\”Think of Me\” Live Version

Some of my favorite Archuleta performances are turning out to be the ones that are, for lack of a better word, smaller. David continues to surprise and impress because his interest in capturing the listener is clearly not about ‘bringing down the house’ but about making an emotional connection. That’s a risky thing to try and do on a show like American Idol where the unstated criteria for a winning performance is to take it over the top. The Long and Winding Road was the first time I realized how truly sophisticated David could be. That performance did seem on the first viewing a tad on the safe side. But on subsequent plays, I decided that the musical choices were quite impeccable; that it was a deceptively stunning performance. I feel the same way about Think of Me, only more so.

The control, the choices, the textures and tonalities are all simply breathtaking. And I love the fact that there’s always a moment in a David Archuleta song when the thing just gets lifted. He starts it on the ground, it’s humming and floating, and then the wings emerge and spread, and it soars. Here, we get it twice. First, after “spare a thought for me…” and again at the end of the following stanza at “don’t think about the things which might have been…” Most contemporary singers strive for this jump, where the song takes flight, but few achieve it with such elegance. The layers and levels of nuance David brings to his work bodes well for his potential as an album artist, the kind whose work not only stands up to the scrutiny of repeated listening, but which pays big dividends in new discoveries on each play.

Maybe it’s a little annoying that David wasn’t credited for choosing an arrangement that brought the material to a new and contemporary place (the only one of the night, by the way), but I’ll take solace in an observation of recognition from elsewhere. I’ve started to notice that in the mentor segments, there is a small but discernible difference in how the music industry luminaries talk about David, as compared with how they talk about the others. It’s not as much in what they say as it is in their attitude and composure. Like they know something. They seem to get calmer, to speak a bit more quietly, with what I can only interpret as a kind of reverence. Not a reverence for David himself, perhaps, but a reverence for the recognition of something inside him, something maybe a bit familiar, something fine and rare and glimmering. Lord Lloyd Webber gave it a name tonight. He called it a real musical soul.

Welcome to the club, Andrew. If you’d like to pick up a pamphlet on the symptoms of ODD, they’ll be on the table after the meeting.