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“You have no idea how great he is, really you don’t. You have no comprehension–it’s absolutely impossible. I can’t tell you why he’s so great, but he is. He’s sensational.”
Phil Spector, famed American record producer and songwriter, struggled to articulate the essence of a young artist by the name of Elvis Presley who had just burst onto the scene in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. When I happened across this quote, I was struck by the fact that I have uttered almost identical words many times in an effort to describe the experience of seeing David Archuleta perform live.
Many fans have emailed me in the past four months suggesting that David Archuleta compares favorably to Elvis Presley in a myriad of ways. Is it possible to write about David’s charisma, his musicality, and his enormous appeal using Elvis as a cultural reference point? I believe it is entirely appropriate, especially when we begin from the assumption that David is on the cusp of a legendary career.
FOD’er Pam M. and Candy were the impetus for this train of thought: they commented under yesterday’s blog that Jive once released an image of Elvis that was very reminiscent of a recent image we all hold near and dear:
This cannot be happenstance: Jive is very savvy, and I am almost giddy to think that they “get” David like we do: the voice, the charisma, the musical giftedness–the “it” factor that will move him beyond temporary fame into the realm of legends.
“Legend” is such a powerful word. Elvis’s artistry not only changed the course of pop and rock music; Dick Clark notes that Elvis’s influence has “made an imprint on the world of pop music unequaled by any other single performer” that will touch “several generations.” Why? I wonder if it is because Elvis fulfilled an aching cultural need. Little Richard identified Elvis as an “integrator” who forced open the doors for black music, his music and performances crossing the rigid color line that existed in the music industry at the time. Elvis was the right person at the right time; there was no other like him.
The ancient Greeks defined this idea with the concept of kairos: an entity that arrives at the right and opportune moment. David Archuleta’s arrival onto the music scene can be described as a kairotic moment: there is no one like him recording music today. As a male teenage recording artist with substance–a musical prodigy who possesses vocal skills that we have barely begun to understand, with striking looks, a humble, sincere personality and an unflinching moral code–he is nonpareil. There is a void in music today: over-produced singers with much in the way of style and very little substance flash onto the scene and are gone in a few years. I imagine this is why I have such a difficult time answering when someone asks me, “Well, who does he sound like? Whose music can you compare him to?” Truthfully, David Archuleta will become the point of reference for others to come.
Elvis’s legendary status has much to do with the fact that his appeal crossed demographic boundaries: of course, the girls (both younger and older) went wild for him: his frank onstage sensuality was an anomaly for the time. Both men and women understood his appeal: “He had total love in his eyes when he performed,” remembers k.d. lang. “He was the total androgynous beauty.” Director Steve Biner in 1968 remarked that “you stop, whether you’re male or female, to look at him. He was that good looking. And if you never knew he was a superstar, it wouldn’t make any difference; if he’d walked in the room, you’d know somebody special was in your presence.” Many of you (myself included) have tried and subsequently failed to describe David Archuleta after meeting him in person; no photographs that I have seen can capture the real thing.
The young Elvis was described as a “shy, polite, mumbling boy” who was transformed when he performed; people were astounded when Elvis took the stage. Roy Orbison described Elvis’s energy as “incredible, his instinct was just amazing.” Sam Phillips noted that Presley “put every ounce of emotion into every song, almost as if he was incapable of holding back.” Many of us have tried to reconcile the awkward, funny, laughing David that we see in interviews and interacting with fans with the passionate powerhouse that we see onstage. The dichotomy of the sensual and the spiritual sends us reeling.
His interpretation of “Love Me Tender”–sung with aching poignancy and directed to each one of us through that American Idol camera–defies explanation. It’s just magic, and maybe becoming a legend is as simple as that.
Note: It is not my intention to put “undue pressure on David” or compare him point-by-point with Elvis: there are, of course, more differences between the two than there are similarities. Elvis is a cultural icon while David is just at the inception of his career.
My purpose was to use Elvis as a cultural reference point to gain insight into the phenomenon that is David Archuleta, especially in terms of David’s musicality, his spirituality, and his appeal to a wide demographic that I truly believe will endure for generations. I didn’t intend to put David in the box of the “next Elvis.” He is the “first David,” and that’s even better.
Update on the David Corn Maze
Picture credit to Christine Armbruster
Kamille from Cornbelly’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Fest at Thanksgiving Point in Utah contacted me again today to let me know that the grand opening of the David Archuleta corn maze is tomorrow! Here is her message:
Thought you migh enjoying seeing a couple of photos taken at yesterday’s unveiling of the David Archuleta-themed corn maze to the media. Press from all over Utah flew up in a helicopter to get aerial views. Though we previously sent you a computer generated image of the maze, here you have the chance to see the actual aerial from yesterday. The maze opens tomorrow to the public and we’ve received word from David’s team that we’ll be able to give away an autographed copy of his cd when it’s released to the lucky winner of our grand prize drawing!
Exciting! Thanks so much, Kamille! Kamille and I are hatching a plan…stay tuned…
David’s Debut Album: A Fun Promo Video
This fan promo is a fun way to spread the word about “Crush” and David’s upcoming album. Credit to jacoboleon.
Any FOD’ers want to make a promo video for David’s album? Send it my way!
Who Has the Best Smile? TCA Knows!
David Archuleta wins the “Best Smile” award on the Teen Choice Awards post-ballot. (Thanks for the information, Rick!) Just think: someday we will be watching David accept his first Grammy. Imagine his smile on that day…
Fan Pictures from funnygirl (Ford Day), Julie (Ford Day), and Elena (Wilkes-Barre)
If you have concert pictures and/or stories that you have not sent to me yet, now is the time!
Click the thumbnails to make the pictures bigger!
David’s Gold Record Status
As most of you no doubt know by now, mathematical logic tells us that David must have certainly reached the magical 500,000 mark with “Crush.” Jive has not officially announced the gold record status yet, but when they do, it’s time to par-tay!
Click “Read the rest of this entry” for stories from funnygirl and Julie!
DAVID ARCHULETA ROCKS!!!!
I will try my best to summarize this amazing experience! First off, I was a little nervous about going to the event because I was going by myself. I was planning to meet up with others that I have met online (Pam, Ashley, and Val), but since I had never actually met them yet I was just a little apprehensive. Here I was worried about driving 45 minutes from home to an event by myself and there were others who flew from another state by themselves to see either Cook or Archie! Of course, as with anything having to do with David, I had no reason to be worried. As soon as I arrived I found the group and it was so wonderful to be able to be with others who shared my ODD! I could finally let my fangirliness excitement out!!! You see, no one around me “gets it”. My whole family thinks I have lost my mind and that I need some sort of intervention…well, maybe I do, as many of you know what ODD is like! So, we were all pretty excited! We had lunch first, like any of us could really eat. I bet they had a ton of food left over since many of us were too nervous and excited to eat much of anything!! We lined up to go in and unfortunately they were a bit unprepared, in my opinion, for getting us into the room where the Davids would perform. They opened the doors and there was a mad dash to get the best seat. Thankfully, I don’t think anyone was hurt. I got somewhat separated from the people I was with but we managed to sit fairly close together. Because it was just a small banquet hall most seats were good seats! I think I was about maybe 30 feet from the stage/David. So because this was actually an Adcrafters meeting (it is an advertising/marketing group) there was some business that they had to take care of from the president of the group as well as various thank you’s they had to do. There was the usual polite applause while we anxiously awaited the reason most of us were there!!! Finally, they introduced David and he was so Archdorable when he came out!! His sweet banter was sooo cute! You could tell he was a little nervous but that is what made him that much more endearing!! You all know by now what he sang! First up was Angels and I think he has definitely made that his own song now! (Jeff said David may have his version on his upcoming album because it was never that popular here in the states and David has so made it his own)! I found myself bouncing in my seat, like we have seen David do, as he sang it!! I attempted a couple of pictures but did not want to be distracted from experiencing David sing-because you all know, you don’t just hear or listen to David but you experience him! To watch him sing is like being transported to a different dimension where time stands still and then when it ends you wish it could have gone on forever!! Next up was Crush-OMG how could we all be so lucky to get to hear David sing it live for the first time!! You could tell he was a little nervous but he did so well!! I really wanted to stand up and dance along with him to this song and thinking back I wish I would have because I think it would have started others doing it and David would have probably been fired up to see that! The fans showed him lots of love for singing Crush and he was happy about that!! And finally there was Imagine. OMG, he sang the whole song!!!!!! We really were the luckiest fans to be there for that!!! I chose my screen name/profile name, dreamer, because of that song!!! This is the type of song David is meant to sing (and Angels)! You can soooo feel his emotions as he sings this and you can see his feelings written all over his face!!!!!! The songs that he will be singing in the future need to have meaning and depth because you can tell that this is what David connects with!! He really is a very deep and emotional guy and you can tell that singing for him is his way of being able to communicate this depth and emotion. His songs don’t have to be all slow songs because I think he can have some uptempo songs with feelings in them too. Jeff talked about some of the songs David is writing and has written and that the lyrics are pretty amazing! Jeff also talked about David’s wit and how we will see it in his songs! So, that was the end of David’s set and, of course, we were all left with wanting more!!! David Cook came out and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed his set. He is very good with the audience and quite funny. I enjoyed just him and the guitar because he didn’t have to scream over a rock band. I can now see why our David gives Cook so much credit-he was really good!! Oh my, this is so long already and I haven’t even gotten to the after part! Eek! Well, I have to say that it was really fun just to sit back and watch David interact with his fans! I didn’t really need another autograph (had 3 from the Detroit concert) so I decided to wait until the crowd thinned a little to try and get a little time with David without having to be told to move it along for others. David was very gracious to everyone and took his time despite what the people in charge were telling him. At one point one of the guys said only one more autograph/picture and then David would have to go. David seemed to completely ignore this guy and kept talking, signing and having pics taken. He even turned around and the guy thought he was ready to go and David said something like “no, I was just reaching behind me to get something”(this is in the video that someone took with “zoom, zoom, zoom” and “shake it”.) He must have stayed for at least 30 more minutes after that! He did his usual singing to himself when someone said something that reminded him of a song-this is absolutely one of the most adorable things about him!! So after waiting for a while I finally got my picture taken with him!!! I sort of wanted a hug but felt awkward asking even though I know so many have and he has kindly obliged!! So, sweet Ashley who I met up with, is standing right next to me and tells David about a favor that I did for her (not a big favor, just something small) and David said “awww, that’s so nice” and he gives me a hug!!!!!!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHH, yes I almost passed out!!!!! I could have hugged Ashley for that!!!!! My day was complete!!! Many of us were able to talk with Jeff and get some album info and other tidbits. I gave a letter to Jeff to give to David for me-I hope he gets a chance to read and respond. When we left we were walking through the parking lot and out comes Jeff, so, a small group of us hung around and talked to Jeff some more. I boldly asked if David could come out and talk some more too, but Jeff said “they” would not let him:( Jeff said that David was inside reading all the letters and looking at all the gifts he got! David is soooo kind and thoughtful to his fans!!! Sorry this is so long but I didn’t want to leave anything out although I am sure there are some things that I forgot!! I have to thank my husband because I almost wasn’t able to go to the event. My daughter was sick and we did not want to leave her with a babysitter so I was going to stay home. My awesome husband to the rescue, he took the day off work to stay with her, and said he had wanted to get a few things done at home anyway so I wouldn’t feel guilty for him having to take time off work!!! I guess you could call him an enabler, haha! Thanks to everyone who runs this site as you are what I think help to keep me feeling sane and not so alone in my love for David!!!!!! Julie