two

In this his first professional year as a musical artist David Archuleta has been specializing in second. Runner up to the first-place finisher on American Idol, his debut single peaking at No. 2, and sales of 183,000 putting his freshman album just behind the top spot on the Billboard Album chart for the week. If nothing else, David’s well-known integrity has certainly expressed itself in an admirable consistency.

I really like this position for David at this point in his career. Two feels true. The connotations associated with second are more correct for someone who is by no means reaching his full potential. There is room to move. Peaks to be scaled. A number-one spot confers definitions and expectations that are not always entirely ideal, especially at this point in a career path. Had David been hitting number-one spots with the material off this particular album, I think I would be concerned that it would be assessed as being a better fit than it is. And that would be far too limiting.

The plain truth is that although David might be in the big leagues now, he is not yet batting homers. Solid singles, doubles, maybe a triple here and there (“Somebody Out There”), but the kid is still working out. The number-two spots are just the right place for him at the moment; far above the mean, nipping at the heels of glory, setting the stage for great things to come. What is abundantly clear to anyone watching is that while most of his contest predecessors peaked with their first efforts, Mr. Archuleta is just getting started.

In the end, these kinds of rankings are meaningless, of course, especially when considering where the value of an artist really lies. With the right material, David has the ability to create an exclusive channel between his heart and the heart of the listener such that the world veritably disappears. The most hardened critics (if they are worthy of the title) have already acknowledged this potential. They know it’s coming. The irony is that David’s real stardom will not ensue from clever executive strategy but from a commitment to trust David himself.

Only then will his work be second to none.