Even considering the fact that all public personalities have their detractors, it seems incomprehensible to those who marvel at David’s sincerity, humility, and gracious disposition (not to mention his remarkable talent) that there could be those who cringe at the very sight of him. These unfortunate souls I call the Anti-Archies, and they seem to fall into two categories.
The first are those who probably secretly like him but wouldn’t think of admitting it. I have a suspicion that a good portion of the press falls into this category. Fearing the loss of whatever street cred or industry rep they think they have, lemming entertainment columnists feel the need to snark their way through the weekly reviews lest they appear to be impressed by a wholesome, smiley kid from Utah performing on a cheesefest like American Idol. Most buckle under the pressure to seem inured to David. The other category are those indoctrinated cynics who simply can’t bring themselves to believe that David is genuine. They seem to cling almost desperately to the idea that there has to be more to the picture, that shyness and humility are either fundamentally incompatible with a talent for performing, or that it indicates other, even sinister issues. I’m no psychologist, but I can’t help but see a pathological fear of vulnerability in this view.
In general, however, I am oddly encouraged by Anti-Archie fire because the true greats are always under-appreciated, misunderstood, and polarizing in the extreme. Even Frank Sinatra was considered over-praised during his career by critics who accused him of being little more than a ‘saloon singer.’
Something no one seems to be mentioning is how easy it would be for someone with David’s skills to simply ape what has gone before. Instead, he is making what would typically be, for example, Sayesha’s or Melinda’s territory, entirely his own. Although I continue to believe that he will have even more impact and versatility when he can imbue his performances with greater depth and power as his voice matures, I don’t think we should underestimate the incredible tenderness David brings to his performances, even to the “diva power ballads.” What David is really doing, in my estimation, is taking what is now a nearly forty-year tradition of soul / gospel stylings and infusing them with a warmth and subtlety that has never really been heard before. He is merely doing what he does, I don’t mean to imply that he is consciously pursuing a game-changing strategy, but it nevertheless amounts to an audaciously courageous undertaking.
The fact that a good number of so-called critics don’t get it, or find him “boring” (that one always makes my head spin) is, I have decided, a very good sign. The combination of such obviously vivid talent on the one hand, and such inexplicably clueless criticism on the other, is precisely the reaction that every truly historic singer has ever had.