The roller coaster ride that is TOSOD continues when you listen to the 7th cut of this album, “Parachutes & Airplanes”. I’d say it is well placed in the CD setlist, coming after “Falling Stars”.

Nicknamed “PANDA” by the arch angels, it is probably the 2nd track that the fan base is most familiar with (aside from the used-to-be-carrier single “Something ‘Bout Love”), given that David debuted this song during the BYU-ID Rexburg Concert sometime in June 2010 along with “If I Could Only Be” and “You’re Not a Very Good Liar”. PANDA received mixed reviews back then but it was my favourite among the three songs.

PANDA adheres to the feel-good theme of the album but veers away from the “soft-verse/full chorus” format found in most of the cuts in this album. The melody is bouncy from the get go and as the lyrics intimate, PANDA “never hits the ground”.

The lyrics are simple yet they are full of imagery. They reflect the always-curious David, not hesitant to ask whenever unsure.

Wise innocence shining through.

Interestingly, David seems to be taken with the idea of being in suspended animation. Just like in “Zero Gravity”, the sense of being high dominates PANDA.

And even if a parachute is a contraption that takes you down, it does so safely – no dropping like a hot potato for Mr. Archuleta, eh?

Meanwhile, PANDA shares a similar sentiment taken up by “Who I Am” — about the wish for a break, of getting away. Easy to imagine that the unexpected speed, at least to him, by which his career has taken leaves him with little room for a breather.

And I don’t ever want to say goodbye
I just want to steal this moment
Right away from time

Melodically, PANDA is strong. The tune stays with you after the 1st listen. The light but brisk piano-vibe in the introduction is a nice contrast coming from “Falling Stars”. It however reminds me — and this may surprise you — of the introduction of The Who’s “Baba O-Riley”. Listen to this live performance years ago and tell me if it is just my imagination —

Of course, the tempo between the two songs is different but I think they share the same diatonic chords of D-A-G. Not 100% sure though if I got the chords down pat as I don’t have my guitar right now while writing this. I may have to get re-visit this some day 🙂

Then, the melody progresses into a robust chorus that is strikingly similar to “Come On Get Higher” chorus by Matt Nathanson, both in melodic and numerical progression. Check it out!

See what am referring to? That higher-note/lower note looping pattern in the two lines of the chorus. Is something wrong here? Certainly not.

A lot of songs share the same chord progression even if they don’t sound alike. Would it shock you to know that Green Day’s “Basketcase” bear the same progression of “Pachelbell’s Canon in D Major”? Or that there are about 36 popular songs with the same chords progression? This is just a small sampling of this occurrence.

So do not fret. This happens. We are not being hoodwinked. Songs may share the same progression but what would make each song stand out would be the lyrics, arrangement, styling and interpretation. The last two is where David shines the most. His musical styling is inimitable. His lyrical phrasing, impeccable.

This brings me to one of the most notable changes made on PANDA’s final arrangement. The album version carries a chorus that has been punctuated with strings similar to Beethoven’s Symphony Nr. 5 – have you noticed?

Now I have always regarded PANDA as the most fleshed out material, more radio-ready, among the three songs that David debuted three to four months prior to the album’s official release. But the addition of the string component to the album version was a very pleasant surprise. It upgraded PANDA’s production value, IMHO. At the very least, it made PANDA more appealing, more memorable to me.

And despite having a full-complement of instruments, PANDA doesn’t sound over produced. David’s voice is front and center. Here, David’s falsetto is rounded and full.

PANDA abounds with low registers that bring out the beautifully maturing voice of The Archuletor, the primary reason why we ain’t hitting ground.

Take another listen and let me know what you think, ok?
[wpaudio url=”‘″ text=”Parachutes & Airplanes” dl=”0″]

There’s something crazy ’bout this day
Like I’m walking on a trampoline
I couldn’t get much higher

So if I ask you, would you stay?
‘Cause you remind me of a
Ballerina dancing on a wire

And I don’t ever want to say goodbye
I just want to steal this moment
Right away from time

What do you say when you can’t look down?
When you feel like you’re ten feet off the ground
What do you do when you’re on the edge?
Now you’re here and you got me thinking ’bout
Parachutes and airplanes
Thinkin’ about
Parachutes and airplanes
We’ll never hit the ground, ground, ground, ground

The world’s a thousand shades of blue
Like we’re here in the kaleidoscope
Don’t want it to be over

But everything that’s in my mind
Is here right in front of my eyes
And you’re the one who got me here

Coz I don’t ever want to say goodbye
I just want to steal this moment
Right away from time


– jackryan4DA