The unguarded truth is that very few artists deserve fame. Very few have the ability and the vision to impact society for years to come. The way the Beatles have. The way Elton John has. The way Michael Jackson has. Very few have that magical brilliance that will make a difference in people’s lives the way David Archuleta already has.
After David sang “Falling Stars”, the Good Things Utah co-host asked if he even understood ‘the extraordinary gift and talent’ that he is. Talent helps but unfortunately, it isn’t a prerequisite for success in the music business as evidenced by some of the artists out there today. Talent alone does not assure longevity. With clever marketing, a savvy promoter can mold mediocre talent into success. If talent alone does not assure a solid career, what does help build one? Does longevity in the music business only mean making music that tops the charts or is it something of exceedingly greater worth?
The above artists have been around for decades. Their careers have stood the test of time. What has sustained their careers? Is there something similar about all of them that made their careers endure? Most have been inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and/or The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Paul McCartney is the most commercially successful songwriter in the history of popular music, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. He also has the most successful solo career because his music is VERSATILE. His songs range from pop to rock to jazz to pop rock. He is in his sixties and still remains current. He is responsible for 32 #1 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. He has composed film scores, classical and electronic music and released a large catalog of songs as a solo artist.
Elton John‘s music encompasses every genre including rock, pop, blues and classical. His POWERHOUSE SONGS and PHENOMENAL PIANO PLAYING make his live shows huge crowd pleasers. His career has spanned for four decades and he has sold more than 250 million records making him one of the most successful artists of all time. He has had more than 50 top 40 hits, won six Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him Number 49 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Powerhouse songs and mad piano skills
Madonna is known as the world’s top-selling female recording artist of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records. She became popular because she PUSHED THE BOUNDARIES of lyrics in pop music. She had many number 1 hits including “Like a Virgin” and “Like a Prayer”, sold 300 million records and is continually REINVENTING HERSELF AND HER IMAGE.
Pushed the boundaries of pop music and reinvented her image
Michael Jackson was extremely talented and a recording artist/singer/songwriter/dancer/musician and philanthropist. He is known as the most successful entertainer of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records. His career spanned four decades as he made CONTRIBUTIONS TO MUSIC AND DANCE. The videos for “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller”, helped make MTV famous. He popularized the dance step, the “MOONWALK”. His album “Thriller” is the best-selling album of all time. He won 13 Grammy Awards and 26 American Music Awards. He had 13 #1 singles in the U.S. and sold over 750 million records. He PERSEVERED despite being publicly scorned for his personal life.
Perseverance, contributions to pop culture with dynamic music videos and innovative dance moves
Sting was the bass player/songwriter and lead singer of the rock band, The Police. The band broke up in the eighties but Sting PERSEVERED by being the only band member to continue on with a solo career. He still remains current as a musician, activist and philanthropist. His VARIED STYLE, which incorporates jazz, reggae, classical and new age music won him 16 Grammy Awards.
Perseverance and varied style
Carole King is a brilliant singer/songwriter and a legend. In the sixties and seventies she WROTE SONGS FOR OTHERS TO SING, songs that became hits for many including Aretha Franklin. Her album “Tapestry”, released in the early seventies and on U.S. album charts for over six years, marked the beginning of her solo career and produced huge hits. In 2000, Billboard named her the most successful female songwriter for five decades because she wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits. She won four Grammy Awards.
Wrote numerous songs that became hits for other artists
Bruce Springsteen is known for his heartland rock songs and songs about the struggles of daily life. His songs are completely ORIGINAL. He has sold more than 65 million albums in the US alone and garnered 20 Grammy Awards and two Golden Globes.
Bob Dylan, one of the most influential rock artists of all time, is known for his songwriting more than his voice. Writing songs since the early sixties, he‘s most well-known for “Like a Rolling Stone”. In the sixties, radio stations would not play songs over 3 minutes long. Bob Dylan TOOK A RISK and made the song six minutes because anything less wouldn’t tell the story. He PUSHED HIMSELF WAY OVER THE LIMITS and got the radio stations to play the song.
Took risks and pushed way over the limits
John Lennon – The other half of the Lennon and McCartney songwriting team, John Lennon WASN’T AFRAID OF TAKING RISKS with his songwriting and used freedom of speech to write songs like “Imagine”. His other songs are about love and hard times. An icon for the last 40 years, even after his death his songs live on.
Wasn’t afraid of taking risks
Billy Joel, singer/songwriter/pianist/composer. Since his first big hit “Piano Man” in 1973, he’s had top 40 hits in the seventies, eighties and nineties, amounting to 33 top 40 hits in the United States, ALL OF WHICH HE WROTE HIMSELF. He won six Grammy Awards, and sold over 150 million records worldwide. He remains current and continues to tour.
Wrote all his own material
These artists did not get to where they are today in a hurry. It took decades of hard work, staying creative and taking leaps of faith. They continued to evolve by pacing themselves, staying true to who they are, trusting their instincts, persevering and by not rushing for the hit. They took risks in their songwriting and performances and stayed original and versatile.
It’s still very early in David’s career but he’s already showing some of the tendencies of the above artists. He took a huge risk by walking away from a demanding major label to try to find his own sound with his own vision. One might say that he is reinventing himself. In a short time, we’ve seen changes in his performances that lean toward his goal of becoming the artist he envisions. He is owning the stage. He is relaxed and in charge. He shows the sensuality of someone twice his age, one of his trademarks. Some say that since David is twenty, he should shift his focus to more mature songs instead of continuing to sing pop songs. But David is versatile. He has demonstrated that he can sing all genres from pop to rock to R&B to ballads to Christmas music and more. His repertoire in one show can consist of mature songs like “Blackbird” and “Everybody Wants to Rule The World”, to a pop song like “Crush”. David’s voice is unique; it is original. When I turn on the radio, if I’m not familiar with the song, the generic raspy rock sounding voice I hear could be a number of different artists including Nickelback, David Cook, Lee DeWyze or several others. How many other artists sound like David? I cannot even name one.
David wants to discover his own sound, away from the pressures of anyone telling him how he should sound. He wants to further develop his songwriting skills. It doesn’t matter if David writes it or if someone writes it for him. My hope is that he has good material to sing. My hope is that he gets a smash hit that will enable the rest of the world to hear and comprehend his worth. And whether he sells out arenas or not, I hope for David a solid career in the music industry so that generations to come are exposed to the “extraordinary gift and talent” of the Voice.