Click here to download the MP3 of “Somebody Out There”

In very short order there has been broad consensus across the fan community that “Somebody Out There” is easily one of the best releases from David’s first major recording effort. It is in my top three. How, then, to account for the fact that one of the most satisfying songs has been subjected to the least amount of distribution? This track is currently unavailable for purchase anywhere. Not on a hard CD, not on a download. Can’t buy it.

In order to have it, you would have had to have pre-ordered the album on iTunes. I have nothing against channel incentives, but when it effectively takes a superior feature of the product out of circulation, it’s not helping anything–except, of course, Jive’s relationship with iTunes. And isn’t that the point? No, my good and loyal Archies, that is most definitely not the point.

There has also been broad consensus that the so-called “bonus” tracks are in general a better representation of David the way his fans appreciate him than the tracks selected for inclusion on the standard CD. Even if I’m not ready to accede to the emerging belief that they are indeed better songs (a couple of them are, including “Somebody Out There”), I do agree that they amount to a superior showcase for David’s voice. And that’s what it’s all about.

David made a point of setting expectations about this album as a hodgepodge of styles, a potpourri of experimentation–a “who am I?” journey. And while I may have observed more range on the standard release than perhaps a number of critics have, it is incontrovertible that had more of the bonus tracks been included, the standard release would have contained significantly more variety. David knew exactly what he was saying. Jive’s decisions only served in the end to undermine his words by releasing as narrow a version of the collection as possible as the standard issue.

In the creative industries and in the media and marketing world, a lot of people think the word “hack” describes someone who can perform work capably, but without any real inspiration or creativity. In other words, servicable but ultimately sub-standard. That’s not quite accurate. A hack is someone who has the ability to do more thoughtful, more creative, or more inspired work but who lacks any real respect for their audience. Consequently they rationalize short-cuts and rote, standard fare as “good enough” because their clueless audience won’t “get” anything more interesting anyway. A hack is a cynic.

I think Jive has been hack in their treatment of David’s album. They apparently think, for example, that because “Somebody Out There” is organic, soulful, authentic and sweet (precisely the nature and character of David’s most heartfelt work) that his current core market of teenage girls won’t “get it;” that they require something between Chris Brown and the Jonas Brothers in order to respond favorably. What Jive is evidently failing to recognize is that David’s core market is both smarter than they are giving them credit for, and entirely responsive to who David already is, not what the Jive marketing machine wants him to be.