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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"
Jive
One and a half stars

 
Comments () | Archives (72)

This is a strong debut album full of catchy Pop hooks that will likely produce multiple hit singles. You should try setting aside your views on religion and American Idol and focus on the music. I know not everyone will like Archuleta, but this shallow and dismissive review has me wondering if you even listened to the album.

"Why do "American Idol" fans consistently reward male pop singers for being entirely sexless on the show? "
Hmmm...And since when is being a good role model with morals a bad thing?

Who? Oh that Clay Aken kid. You girls know it's coming right?

Listen again to the album...it IS great! David will also have his whole life to please whatever music you like because he can sing anything. He is a true artist with a brilliant gift.

His voice touches my soul.

David will be a superstar based on his amazing talent and sweet personality. He doesn't have to use sexuality to become a megastar. I"m THRILLED that we have a teen role model who is wholesome.....finally.

maybe the reviewer expects archuleta to do R&B like justin or chris brown?

what's wrong with singing pop and ballad when it's what people want to hear from you? besides, this is his first album, and as far as i listen to it, it's quite good, really doesn't deserve your 1 and a half star.

i wonder what the reviewer gives to Taylor Swift sophomore.... if he gives her a 3 or 4 out of 5 stars and only gives this album 1 and a half, it will be very very weird, if you know what i mean.

I'm definitely no 13 year old girl, but I definitely enjoyed this album. Lyrics were wholesome (just what a song should be) and the melody was nice.

Honestly, what's wrong with innocence and pop ballad? It's actually nice to know that there is someone in the business who is still wholesome and talented! If you think that a song needs "salacious pandering" to be a good song, then you have got to set your brain (if you have one) straight. Music should be appreciated through its lyrics and melody....not "salacious pandering"! Get a life.

I like both David Archuleta and David Cook. I think Archuleta should be commended for being a decent role model, and staying true to who he is as a person. Will the album win any grammy's????? maybe not, but staying off the beaten path (i.e. taking off your clothes, and trying to be sexy while selling records does sell records, but sticking to your morals is a revolutionary act these days, and I applaud both Davids for doing that). they both have said they are NOT in it for the FAME. They just like making music and they are grateful for the position that they are in, and I hope TO GOD they stay the decent role models that they were before they won Idol. We need more kids being raised with the morals that they have at 18 and 25.

David Archuleta could sing the alphabet or mary had a little lamb and I would still listen to him. He has a distinctive and soothing tone to his voice, and while I did listen to the album, and bought it. I wasn't crazy about every song, but its an album I can give to my niece who is 12 and know I am not giving her a questionable product.

You don't see Josh Groban taking his clothes off, and he sells tons of records. Give Archuleta a break. Its his first album, and for his first album I think its pretty darn good and he'll only hopefully get better as he grows into his career.

He should be very proud of himself. His fans are.

I disagree on Mr. Browns review but I think the day will come when he will change his mind. I think David's did a wonderful job on his first CD. I loved the mix of songs. I haven't been able to get "Touch my Hand" out of my head. I hope a CD with ballads happens in the future. Let's all of David's fans just keep supporting him, we know he is amazing. I am not a teenager either.

I always saw David Archuleta as the antithesis of David Cook. He sings light-hearted, non-jaded, catchy pop that seems left over from a simpler era gone by. David Cook on the other hand sings brooding, grungy material with a modern rocker's edge (I never thought I'd hear a Mariah Carey song sound as depressing as Cook's version of "Always Be My Baby"). David Archuleta's album is manufactured pop, while David Cook's is manufactured rock pop. Neither is going to win Grammy's, although I do prefer Archuleta's work.

David Cook really is what's in right now, though. There are dozens of artists who sound rather similar to him, one being former American Idol Daughtry. The irony is that while Cook sort of stood out on American Idol, now that he's out on his own there's little to distinguish him from others with a similar sound. He certainly isn't as personable as Archuleta, and yet he doesn't quite have that rock star's charm either. I have a strong feeling that he will eventually get lost in the crowd.

I was actually surprised by Archuleta's album. I expected a bunch of schmaltzy ballads thrown together with some great singing, but uninspired production. Instead I found a bunch of catchy songs that don't try too hard to turn a 17-year-old into another Justin Timberlake or Chris Brown clone. It's just carefree, happy-go-lucky pop music with good melodies and impressive singing. Archuleta fans will appreciate it for what it is, while others will turn their noses up at it because it doesn't try to turn Archuleta into some male sexpot as reviewer August Brown seems to feel is necessary.
If you like music that is light-hearted, quite well-produced, and flies in the face of modern entertainment which favors cynicism and sex, then this album is for you.
Good tracks: "Running", "My Hands", "You Can", and "A Little Too Not Over You".

After taking time to think about August Brown's personal and professional attack on David Archuleta, I have come to think that August Brown is absolutely on target. David Archuleta should be driven from the music business, and fast. He has the audacity to come here with that beautiful voice, smile that beautiful smile, and promote general good feelings with that shining spirit of his. Archuleta even had the nerve to put out a pretty darn good first CD. Somebody better try to stop him now, for who knows what he will do next.

Thank you for a good laugh! This kid's going to go very far, wait and see! I'm 44 yrs old and I can't wait to get the CD. Neither can my eleven children ages 2-21 We like the sweet pop songs and the REAL kid who sings them!! Someday you will say "Man I missed the mark on that one!" He's GREAT!

What is up with all of the bad reviews for David Archuleta's CD?! I think that it is amazing! It is actually the best CD that I have ever heard in my life. All of his songs are incredible.

OMG r u kidding me!! ur review is hideous!!!!
ur attacking a 17 year old boy who obviously worked to the bone to produce this album!!!
and i think it Rocks like hell. And im not old fashioned or a teen girl. I am a 20 year old music lover. Besides You seem to be resorting to personal attacks rather than talk about the songs!!!!

I think you are under the mistaken impression that sex is more attractive than love, respect and honesty. David sang his way right into our hearts because we could feel what he felt, and what he felt was pure and honest (and it was arousing too for many but don't tell David that). Re David being a blank screen influenced only by Idol stars, that is totally off-base. The first thing David sang was entire songs from Les Miserables at age 6. David has studied the US and international hit charts for many years, listening and researching every hit song, performer, and producer. His mother is a singer and his father is a jazz trumpet player. Some time you should check out his list of favorite music on Amazon because his musical loves and influences are amazing broad. Re your final comment about what the best teen pop contains, that's a pretty sick view and exactly why so many feel disenfranchised by modern pop music.

David Cook definitely deserved to win!

hmmmmm.....funny thing, but this review (from the same publication, btw) came to mind as I read your review.

http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2008/11/archuleta-david.html

Do you so-called critic have nothing better to do than slam a great person. If you aren't liking his music, that's up to you, but lay off the personal attacks. By the way, his CD is fantastic and you'll be eating your words as the sales sky rocket.

If you are David Cook die hard fans you better move you ass now for his single: Light On is #72 in iTune and his review for his cd album is very unfavorable and per the "MUSIC JOURNO" in Rolling Stone is unoriginal and his only good to do a cover songs of other artist. PLUS HE NEED TO ENUNCIATE HIS LYRICS FOR CLARITY OR ELSE HE WILL BE JUST A SPLASH IN THE PAN AND ONLY GOOD FOR ONE CD ONLY.

TO: ALL ARCHIE FANS


DON'T GET AFFECTED WHAT THE "MUSIC JOURNO" REVIEW - FOR ITS REALLY IRREVANT MOST OF THE WIRTERS ARE OLD GENERATION - ITS THEY PAID JOB. THE FANS HAS THE LAST WORD AND THEY ARE THE ONE WHO LISTEN TO ARCHIES CD AND NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY PEOPLE WILL KEEP BUYING ARCHIES CD ALBUM FOR IT IS A MUST HAVE CD AND ALL THE SONG ARE FANTASTICALLY GOOD. I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE THIS GREAT AND HE IS GIFTED AND HAS A GREAT VOICE TO BE RECKONED WITH FOR THIS YOUNG GENERATION OF THE 21ST CENTURY. THIS CD IS GOOD FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS. CONGRATS ARCHIES, JOB WELL DONE !

DON'T BE SUPRISED, FOR THE " MUSIC JOURNO" NOW A DAYS IS IRRELEVANT THEY DON'T CRITIQUE THE CD ALBUM AS IT SHOULD BE - THEY LET THEIR EGO LET CONTROL OVER THEM AND THIS IS THE TIME THEY FEEL IMPORTANT BUT THEY ARE REALLY IRRELEVANT IN THE MUSIC WORLD AND WON'T IMPACT THE SALES OF THE CD FOR PEOPLE DON'T LISTEN THEY SAY. ITS THE FANS WHO HAS THE LAST WORD REALLY FOR THEY ARE THE ONE WHO LISTEN AND BUY THE CD. DAVID ARCHULETA IS A MUST HAVE CD FOR ALL THE SONGS ARE BEAUTIFULLY DONE AND HAS A VARIETY OF TEMPO GUARANTEED YOU WILL LIKE IT FOR ITS #2 IN iTune not even in a day. So get it and also good for a HOLIDAY GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS.

This review encapsulates the problems with rock critics reviewing pure pop: They place themselves above the genre, and thus the album. They are therefore not listening with their ears, but rather reacting to what they feel is being crammed down their throats. Bottom line: This album is actually loaded with astonishing pop gems, which Archuleta's voice elevates at times to levels of the sublime. This album blows away expectations, and they were high. I can't think of a better pure pop album this year--I keep returning to it. "Crush" is "magesterial" but the rest is warm-milk mewling? No, sorry Brown. Revisit the material. You blew it.
BTW Im 36, male, and straight. I grew up on the Ramones, and The Clash.

Music critics must listen to new music whether they like it or not. Those who garner a following with their critiques enjoy success while they can: critics don't last for long. It's exceedingly difficult NOT to get jaded with experience. Before you realize it, you're dispensing unsolicited opinions instead of critical opinions.

In reality, David's a sweet kid with a nice voice. But unless he mixes it up more, he's never going to be any more popular or relevant than he was as the runner-up on American Idol.

If clean-cut, boring, themes and songs are cool with you, then David's your boy.

If you think his music will skyrocket with popularity, I predict the opposite.

I do like David Archuleta, but did not like his debut album. I think that he will become a great classical singer, but an idol like performer, not. I think that David should concentrate in singing classics and things that are inspiritional in nature, and not that tweeny bop music I heard from his debut album. I do have to agree that Mr. Brown's review was meanspirited.

Sadly, I agree with the reviewer. Apart from Crush, Archuleta's album fades into the background like elevator music and the muzak stuff at the local Walmart/Sears. That doesn't take away from his talent. He's got it but all of you consistently ignore the fact that he'll need staying power and to do that, he'll need to take risks. Maybe not go overly explicit or sexual, but he needs to work out of that musical corner he's backed himself into. Honestly, did you think that Clay Aiken, Reuben Studdard, and the gray haired winner were going to have a long career singing the same type of music they sang on Idol? Really now? Shame on you people for taking the critique so personally. It's the entertainment business. Like Heidi Klum says on her show "One minute you're in, the next minute, you're out." If Archuleta keeps singing the same tired ballads, he'll definitely be out.

 
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