From the very beginning of this year’s “American Idol,” David Archuleta has been a shining star. Only 17 years old, and with such presence on stage! Such a voice! So cute! He seemed fated to be the winner.
Now, weeks into the competition, I’m not quite as sure. He certainly is talented – there’s no doubt about that. He is incredibly confident on stage. And he’s a clean-cut teen who seems tailor-made for a pop idol career.
However, what you want to see on “American Idol” is growth and transformation in the contestants. Those who can learn from the judges and their experiences there, and change themselves into great performers, are the ones who will go to succeed. Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first “Idol,” is a perfect example of this transformation.
As much as I like David, and as much as all the teen and tween girls in America love him, I’m not yet seeing the evolution that will lead him to the top spot.
Make no mistake, I thought his March 25 performance on “Idol” was very, very good. He took a song unknown to American audiences and made it compelling. He connected with his audience in a personal way. Yet there is still something missing. There is a lack of true emotional connection in his songs.
Part of the problem last night was the song choice, frankly. “You’re the Voice” by David Foster is an okay song, but seemed somewhat bland.
David sang it beautifully, moved well on stage, and hit a great long sustained note at the end. The audience got into it and was moved by it, but I kept wondering what would have happened had David chosen a familiar, beloved song with a strong emotional hook. He would have blown them away.
It’s down to the point in the competition where song choice counts. As the weeks go on, such seemingly inconsequential choices can spell the difference between being No. 1 and No. Whatever.
He is quite vocally accomplished for someone his age. But he’s also had some bad moments to overcome. He forgot the lyrics to a Beatles’ song two weeks ago. Since then, every song’s been letter-perfect. For a while, he had a visually distracting habit of licking his lips after every phrase, which he seems to have conquered. So there is a little bit of change. Just a bit.
No doubt David will go far, propelled by the teens and tweens that are busily texting their votes in every week. He may very well end up as one of the final two.
Keep changing and growing, David. The top spot is within your grasp.