Wednesday, April 30, 2008

a wee discussion of pop culture

I feel bad about hating David Archuleta. Not bad enough to mend my ways, but I am aware of the irrationality of hating a kid who is clearly more likable in real life than many young men his age. My hatred is all music-related, because he just doesn't get it. John got on my case last night about using the word "blaspheme" to describe what he does to songs, so I will try to tone it down.

First offense: "Imagine"
(This is a retread for most people foolish enough to ask for my opinion about something as disposable as a hideous reality program, so forgive my repetition.) What made me so angry about this was his embellishment and elaboration of the song. This song is beautiful because of its simplicity and humility. Misguided as he may have been about the correct implementation of his ideas, John Lennon really was driven by what I think were pure motives in composing this song. And Archuleta didn't get that. He tried to tart it all up and turn it into something it wasn't. It's not a power ballad, you moron. And this song is never. about. you. The performer is merely a vehicle to express the message of the song. It requires enough musical proficiency to do the song justice, and enough maturity to let the song sing itself, in a way.

Second offense: all the weeks since "Imagine"
Meh to the lot of them. John and I were discussing how one great performance early on in the competition can allow a contestant to skate through some pretty horrible following weeks, I think because everyone keeps wanting him to recapture his glory (see: Brooke White, "Let It Be"). And I'm not even speaking as an offended Beatles fan.

Third offense: "America"
This was meh, too, but a far more egregious meh. I will freely admit that he was hung out to dry by that insipid arrangement--the original derives so much emotion from that pulsing guitar, and the "Today!" chorus --but even so, he sucked real real bad on this song. This is a song that brings tears to my eyes (from all around comes the sound of my friends and family saying, ". . . and?"), it is so much a part of my starry-eyed, unabashedly patriotic childhood. Remember the Cold War? Remember being devoted to America? Remember when there was a clear distinction between good and evil? When the American Dream was uncomplicated by moral grey areas? Ah, childhood. Anyhoodle, this song is another one that you don't screw around with, and his puppies-and-rainbows hammer didn't hit this nail.

All in all, I will concede that he sings well. But there's much more to being a memorable performer than musical ability. Runs and fancy-schmancy notes don't mean anything if you have not a clue what in the world you're singing about. I remember when people were losing their entire minds about Leann Rimes, and I was like, "So? So what if she's got a good voice? She has no experience with loss, with hardship, with love unrequited or reciprocated, with joy. She's a larva still. Get back to me when she's done some living." I have no idea if she's gotten any better, because I don't listen to country music. But I would bet that she gets what she's singing about now.

That's my opinion on the subject. So I guess he's not to blame for his lack of gravitas, because he's . . . seventeen. But don't expect me to be throwing my hands up in the air about his "prodigious" gift, because although he may be deemed to be the "best" (read: most marketable) famewhore of a group of famewhores, he's not that big of a deal.


Courtney said...


All8 said...

Who???? ;)

Jenny said...

You are so dang funny. You actually seem to be more emotionally invested in this season than I am. My loyalties and love have drifted to Dancing with the Stars!

Layne said...

And the sad thing is, I've only watched bits and pieces on youtube. But I'm nothing if not opinionated, even when I don't know what I'm talking about.

highdeekay said...

This season I find myself anxious to see who gets their just rewards of being voted out instead of who gets to stay. There is just not a stand-out. I have to say that I'm thrilled to be done with the whiny Brooke. She may be beautiful and sweet and all but I was just so done with her.

We don't have tv so we listen to bits and pieces on the radio (our local Fox channel is on the radio too). Maybe that is why I'm less excited by them all.

crystalcookie said...

Layne I couldn't concure more, it takes more then just being talented with a good voice/good looks there is much more required in area such as singing and lots of people seemed to be blinded, although half the world is blinded on alot of things but we won't go into that ha ha.

Jill said... I'll throw this out..Will he still serve a mission if he wins. ha ha