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David Archuleta: The critics have voted

November 10, 2008 |  6:48 pm
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The return of "American Idol" is just two months away. But before another round of auditions kicks off on Jan. 13, the two Davids have another slate of judges to go up against. Simon Cowell may be gruff, but did he properly prepare one David Archuleta for America's music critics?

The Times was tough on the kid, giving his self-titled debut a star and a half. August Brown wrote, "It's an exacting distillation of a 13-year-old girl's wholesome romantic aspirations as imagined by 50-year-old label reps." Though The Times was forgiving of the single "Crush," the review wasn't so kind on the rest of the album, noting that 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."

Could America have been so very wrong in its "Idol" finalists?

But if critics haven't seen what "Idol" voters saw, not everyone is finding Archuleta's debut to be a tanker.

On its Vulture blog, New York Magazine wrote that Archie's tunes are "happy, life-affirming pop songs, mostly about hand holding, selflessly sung in the second-person (eleven of the twelve tracks are about 'YOU'), all with big exploding choruses."

Industry trade Billboard was positively glowing, noting, "Most teen Disney heroes have got nothing on David Archuleta. The 17-year-old who was one of the most exciting 'American Idol' contenders has one of those once-in-a-decade pop voices: A silky tenor with a natural melancholy that makes him a heartbreaker by default. His charming debut exploits that very quality with some strokes of pop genius."

Entertainment Weekly wasn't as chipper, giving the album a C+. Chris Willman wrote that though Archuleta certainly has a winning personality, much of it is "saddled with the most generic writing and production money can buy."

The New York Times seems to strike the middle ground as well, finding Archuleta, who the newspaper writes "has a lovely, foggy R&B voice out of scale with his small body," to be pleasantly inoffensive. Writes the review, "The music, made by many producers and songwriters, averages out different forms of radio-format blandness, with tinges of Coldplay and Shania Twain, and a few dollops of good writing."

So where do you stand on Archuleta's debut? Did we get it right? Are you disappointed? Or do you side with Billboard, which is ready to give Archie the keys to the whole Disney empire?

--Todd Martens

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