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Album review: David Archuleta's debut

David Archuleta Why do "American Idol" fans consistently reward male pop singers for being entirely sexless on the show? Pouty lips and flirty lashes are practically entrance requirements for female singers, and "rocker" guys can bellow and strut to their content. But there's a kind of elfish contestant who always does well despite the possibility of vanishing in a cloud of unicorn glitter were he to sing something arousing.

Which brings us to the curious case of David Archuleta's debut album. It's an exacting distillation of a 13-year-old girl's wholesome romantic aspirations as imagined by 50-year-old label reps. Yet the show revealed that image is actually true to Archuleta's personality (albeit, one creepily stage-managed by his dad). It's as if Archuleta's influences as a singer were solely previous "Idol" contestants, and he's a blank screen for viewers to project onto via millions of speed-dialed votes.

Archuleta has one magisterial single, "Crush," that will smother all who encounter it with the refinement of its craft. But the record is larded with awkward modernist R&B, Christian semaphore ballads like "You Can" and warm-milk mewling that makes David Cook, Archuleta's "Idol" foe, sound like Robert Plant.

The best teen pop is often code for exploring more dangerous ideas, yet Archuleta counts Tamyra Gray and Kelly Clarkson as influences in his liner notes. Kids deserve more salacious pandering than that.

--August Brown

David Archuleta
"David Archuleta"
One and a half stars

Comments () | Archives (72)

Heh, better find some cover, August. (For what it's worth, I largely agree with you -- David could have done well with some better material. Alas, such is corporate music...)

"Kids deserve...salacious pandering"...? Are you serious? I'm not sure which is more offensive, the salacious part or the pandering part. Let me go out on a limb: You don't have children...

Um, 'salacious pandering'?? You obviously don't know this guy. He's doing the material HE wants to do, and it's just right for him.

Lots of us love what he does just how it is. And I'm no 13 year old either. His voice is gorgeous, and the one truly refreshing quality about him is that that he DOESN'T do material that's salacious.

'Imagine' that!

David James Archuleta will never have to use sex to sell his music, And if the record industry thinks that the kids of today's music need sex to sell then what does that say about them and more that the industry is doing the pimping?
David James could stand in front of a microphone and not move an inch, not swivel his hips a bit, nor wear long flailing hair or chacoaled eyes and still bring the house down. It his voice that we love first and that sterling character which we pray people like you will not influence him to alter for the sake of selling records.

I might also suggest that before you critique David Archuleta, you get the CD and listen to it. I hate lazy people.

I think the only reason you did not write "Crush" was a bad song is because you would look like a total fool. Oh wait, you already accomplished that.

What kind of a review is this? I reread trying to figure you out. Are you kidding me? You want salacious pandering? What are you trying to get at. This is probably the worst review of an album I have ever read.
A great singer, a great kid, a great role model. He has everything going for him. Don't worry. Your review doesn't mean a thing!

Wow, you must be in a horrible mood August Brown because you totally are missing the call on this one. Archuleta delivers arousing performances almost every, single time he gets behind a microphone. It seems you weren't able to separate a lack of respect for the show with this particular effort so you probably shouldn't have done the review.

The stage dad thing is so old and totally false. David proved this in countless interview questions on his radio tour. If you were current on your supposed facts and actually kept yourself up to date on the artist you are attempting to review, youwould know this. You are un-fit to review this artist.

huh.. did I miss something? Where is the actual review of this album (you know.. talk about the songs) that will help me to decide whether or not to buy it for my kid and teenage relatives for Xmas? Are you serious?

Is this a review of David Archuleta's cd or a personal attack on David Archuleta and his father. Pretty pathetic attempt at a hack job on a talented kid.

In the words of a very talented and intelligent soon to be MEGASTAR, I would say "WHAT?"

this review is so mean not even giving justification on david's songs on the album. i do think david is a great artist without pretentions and overexagerrating moves and experiments to lure our attention. his album deserves to be a good hit like lindy said that he is really in a good shape likewise a good model to kids...

I love the album and I am not a teenager. Get your facts straight. You insulted David and called his dad a stage father (you got that from TMZ?). I don't know why you write with so much hate. Open you mind and your ears, and you will find this album will change your mood and make you happier.

Review of Album Review: August Brown Reviews David Archuleta.

Brown opens with a small minded and scathing review of something he is obviously not intelligent enough to understand. His review is short and lacking in musical chops. Rather than comment on the details of the album, ie, lyric, melody, song choice, Brown instead weaves in a personal attack of a fundamentally, good-natured and amazingly talented young man.

Brown would be better-served writing similar mush for the classifed ads; perhaps even the "jobs wanted" area for those aspiring to write, but who just aren't up to snuff.


August Brown
La Times Music Blog
Negative Four Stars

Actually, being most of the album reviews are so-so to negative, my greatest fears have come true. The songs may be very sincere, but they are run of the mill ballads. Archie just needs more time to develop his talents in the studio, not to mention some better material to work with.

Like many "critics" you just don't get what David Archuleta is all about. Archie's is a fresh face devoid of the usual (and hackneyed) angst of many of today's youth. Archuleta doesn't (as far as I can see) have any tattoos, he doesn't strike James Dean-like poses while smoking or drinking, and from all appearances he comes from a stable family with values foreign to many in today's music industry. And he's religious, which, I can only assume, really gets your goat. Again, you don't get it, August Brown, but that's okay: Archuleta's many fans will purchase his CD, the kid will become a great success in spite of your vitriole. David Archuleta has broad appeal world-wide, and his fan-base steps across all age groups, believe me. This debut CD is a winner, like it or not.

Absolutely useless review. Did you listen to the music? Do you know ANYTHING AT ALL about David Archuletta. We, the public are sick and tired of you psuedo intellectual reviewers telling us what we deserve. This is a disgusting attack on a good hearted kid artist who will be loved and admired long after EVERYONE has forgotten your name.

You've got to be kidding. I don't know what CD you actually listened to. This is one of the most talented kids to come along in a long time. He is also a great role model that follows his own music. I hope he has the moxie to continue and doesn't change his style because someone like you thinks he should. His music is refreshing change to the screaming and swearing that our teens hear on a daily basis. Keep up the good work David. I have a feeling your CD will be flying off the shelves.

I actually wish the album would have included more songs like the ones he sang on the show... but i think that's what they were trying to get away from. show that David can sing mainstream pop songs that are radio friendly. which is exactly what he did. the album is cute. has lots of catchy songs and it feels very young and fresh, not old and boring. (i personally love the "old and boring" songs he sang on the show though... i want more of that on the next album!)

This is a really good first album for him and it's got quite a few catchy songs that get stuck in your head and will hopefully allow him to continue with his career and make more albums.

and fourthly, my tween nieces were NOT david archuleta fans on the show, but now they just love him :)

and lastly, I definitely think his voice is better than the over-produced songs on the album, but that doesn't mean the over-produced stuff is bad! it's just a little over-produced.

and lastly lastly, you're review sucked.

Thanks for the Archuleta review. I was already going to pass on the album. Sounds like typical Top 40 pop dreck.

As a mother of five who has been consistently appalled at the lack of good role models for my children, I was thrilled when my youngest found one in David. When I saw his music video for his sweet single "Crush", it actually made my day. What?! A video not hyping some under-dressed, inappropriately sexy teen fantasy? No, we actually got a sweet video about a first crush (hmmm, a video that actually goes with the lyrics, what were they thinking?) I think you need to come off your "salacious pandering" high horse and get a clue. There are plenty of people out there (girls, boys, young, old) who enjoy finally having someone talented AND clean-cut to admire. Elfish contestant? How about an elfish (read small-minded) and mean-spirited review that had little or nothing to do with the actual album....

The Archuleta has got to be the most disgusting, hateful fanbase not only to come out of Idol in recent memory, but to come from anywhere in recent memory. Never have I seen a fanbase more likely to resort to petty, vicious attacks any time a reviewer - or anyone else, for that matter - dares to not agree with them that Archuleta is the new messiah. You people need to accept the fact that not everyone likes sugary twee pop confections, and that a difference in musical tastes is not grounds for you to hate someone, accuse them of not knowing how do their jobs, or hope that they get fired and/or die. You've made the Claymates look rational and balanced. So buy your 64 copies of his album to inflate his sales, but you've succeeded in making the rest of the world look at Archuleta - and yourselves - as worthy of ridicule.

This review has been featured at THEWEEK.com as Best Opinion- Great piece!

Did the guy even listen to the cd ? This cd is pretty damn good for a debut. There are about 5 or 6 songs I love. " Barriers " is the best song I've heard this ENTIRE year. Crush, Touch My Hand, Barriers, My Hands, You Can, To Be with You are my favorites. The others aren't bad neither. Great job Archuleta ! Can't wait for the next one.

I don't know what album the rest of you listened to, but I think you are blindly - or maybe deafly - praising it beyond all reason. Archie has a beautiful voice. However, the producers have messed with it beyond recognition. It's passable on the album, but hardly his beautiful, soaring vocals. They wrecked Angels completely. I saw him do Angels on tour. It was fabulous! On the album, they took out all the highs and lows and excitement, and made it very bland. That goes for most of the songs. There is no passion for his music coming through in his voice. It's all ironed and synthisized out.

I'm disappointed that he's being made to since all these little songs about teen love when he himself says he's never been on a date, much less been in love. During Idol he said many times that he wanted to sing songs with a message. Sadly, his handlers have denied him this and he's reduced to singing silly love songs. Archie has great potential. This album wastes it.

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