The only adviser David will ever need is his own ear.

I don’t know whether this song will hit or not, no one does; it doesn’t matter. It very well could, and it should, but it doesn’t matter. With this frothy, jumpy, deceptively edgy single, David proves his seriousness as a pop craftsman, in range of best-of-breed targets from Abba to Michael Jackson. And I’m not even talking about the performance. David has gone meta.

Despite the overly glossy producer polish, inevitably aggravating those of us who hunger for The Voice (autotune? really?), this feels like more of a David Archuleta production than we’ve had so far in this category. It is interesting that a faction of the fan base are claiming that it “doesn’t sound like a David song,” because I would argue that it actually sounds more like how a pure-pop David Archuleta song should probably sound than any previous production has. No, this is not Salt Lake City soul, or boy balladeer, but it is more successful on its own terms than anything he has previously offered in this genre. David is letting us see just how clever he can be in this game, and he’s not even using his most obvious talents to do it. Oh David, you phenom, you.

Certainly the skills of co-producers Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, with their slick interpretations of emo declarations, offer a uniquely appropriate fit with David’s own sensibilities, and David himself may have capitulated to his more commercial inclinations (nothing wrong with that), but I detect more of David in the mix this time, and not just from the standpoint of singer. You can feel a deeper comfort level, a stronger confidence in the material. Indeed, careful observation of David’s notoriously inscrutable tweets suggest important advances in his role as leader, not just collaborator. This is terribly exciting, especially when the results are so on-the-mark without being completely on-the-nose.

And therein lies the Archuleta genius that is beginning to emerge in his pure-pop confections.  There is that strange but unmistakable coolness, something not quite sunny, even in the midst of all the celebration. David knows that emphasizing the brightwork requires shadows. This underlying sense of gravity is becoming an Archuleta trademark; that hint of pathos that David has always had in his favor, and which keeps him from becoming too diaphanous. For as fey as his style may sometimes seem (and for which which many of us treasure him), he is no lightweight. Even in the creamiest of commercial fare David never loses touch with the ground, with the source of the soul. I think that’s where the jumping thing comes from; the Zero Gravity experience is clearly baked into this piece.

The difference here, the evolution of The Archuletor in this instance, is that he is now experimenting with this rich juxtaposition in aspects of music-making other than his voice. The dimensions of David’s own musical intelligence are quite evident in Something ‘Bout Love, from pop prince to soul diva to Texas two-step, all wrapped up neatly and smart in one summery bubble that should bounce awfully easily out of cars and convenience stores all summer long. This is one impressive piece of commercial cargo, and I strongly suspect it is so not because David has succumbed to the likes of Sam and Sluggo, but because he has expanded his role as helmsman of his own work.

— Rascal

Click to listen:

Something ‘Bout Love