\”The Long and Winding Road\” Live Version

Originally posted on 3/18/08

Some people don’t get it, don’t buy it, don’t respond to it. That’s the nature of diversity. Celebrate it. But an enormous number of people in this country are swooning over this kid, and for very good reason.

The persistent criticism that interests me most is the sense that some have of his being overly prepared, somehow contrived, even “robotic.” Of the number of things I find bewildering and amusing about these views is the fact that working professionals have far more in the way of advisers than David does at this point. Between the stylists, vocal coaches, directors, choreographers, trainers, nutritionists, producers, lawyers and publicists, most performers are prepared within an inch of their life.

But my central hypothesis on this perception is that for some, there is a cognitive disconnect between how young and innocent David seems, and how skilled he is in his performances. The two critical interpretations of this apparent contradiction are that either his innocence is phony, or that he is over-coached. Some people just can’t seem to accept this phenomenon at face value; to the point where they’ll even accuse others of “buying in” to something that is somehow untrue.

There is no doubt that David has studied and learned the skills of his craft. Good on him. But as his voice coach, Dean Kaelin, emphasized in a recent interview, you can’t teach talent. And that extends to inherent musicality. Science has shown that musical aptitude resides in a part of the brain distinct and separate from other functions, including language and memory. Basically, you either have it or your don’t. And David has it in spades. His musical instincts are extremely sophisticated. Much more so than anyone around him could be given credit for. Plus, if he was somehow being fed these choices, it would never come off as so integrated into his being as it is. You just can’t fake that, no matter how much you practice.

For me, as for so many others, it is indeed the very lack of pretense, combined with such beautifully-crafted talent, that makes David so immensely appealing. If any of his critics have an interest in getting to this place of appreciation (not that they should), they’ll need to let down the defenses that help them understand and deal with an otherwise harsh and cynical world, and open up to the pure possibility that is David Archuleta.