November 13, 2008

David Archuleta: Self-Titled

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If you were anything like me during last season’s American Idol, you wanted to violently vomit every time runner-up David Archuleta opened his mouth. His endlessly flowing earnestness and gosh-darn-it shtick eclipsed his tremendous vocal abilities on the show, as little David always seemed far older than his 17 years. And yet, it is this maturity level from Archuleta that makes his eponymous debut shockingly engaging. Even if it is undoubtedly the squarest record ever to come out of the Idol machine — Archie is about as hip and cool as Clay Aiken is straight — David Archuleta is an annoying indelible listen, full of swelling poppy choruses that become engrained into your subconscious.
Nowhere is this catchiness more apparent than in the record’s opening sequence, a string of five songs that each features an identifiable hook that won’t leave you no matter how much you try. From the charming lead single “Crush” to the soaring “A Little Too Not Over You,” Archuleta finds the balance between age-appropriate lyrics and adult-oriented musicality. Not everything works on his debut — the terribly trite ballads “You Can” and “To Be With You” just reiterate how hackneyed Archuleta sounded on AI — but when the melodies outshine the clichés, David Archuleta is a remarkably promising debut from an artist that seemed destined for a train wreck.