The Voice

DAVID ARCHULETA

Posts Tagged ‘the riddle’

The Compartmentalist vs David Archuleta

Posted by Angelica on Saturday, September 1, 2012

Below is an excerpt from an article in the September edition of The New Yorker, by Lizzie Widdicombe entitled, “Teen Titan – The Man Who Made Justin Bieber.”  Click on the above link for a fascinating read, the story of how a star was born and the Machiavellian machinations that delivered him into a world of fame, power, and wealth.  Well written and informative, it is an education in how things work in the very competitive music industry where marketing is all and art is superfluous.  At one point she quotes Universal Music Group CEO, Lucian Grainge, who recently signed a distribution deal with Braun… “We’re not in the art business.”

 One afternoon, I sat in on a meeting Braun had in his living room with a potential client, a nineteen-year-old singer named Tori Kelly, and her parents. At eleven, Kelly had appeared on the TV series “America’s Most Talented Kid,” and she’d had a deal with the Geffen label. But her career had stalled.

Braun leaned back on the couch, his hands crossed behind his head. “So what do you guys want to do?” he asked in an antsy tone. “I think you’re a real artist with a real voice. I want to understand what you want so I can help you out.”

Kelly’s mom, wearing pink Capri pants, explained that Kelly had just self-released an album, which was charting on iTunes. Kelly named a few pop acts that she’d like to open for: Beyoncé, Alicia Keyes, Justin Timberlake. “Justin”-meaning Bieber-“would be great.” She said that she’d like to perform with a band and with choreography, “if it fits.”

Braun interrupted: “You’ve been doing this for a while now. What do you think the holdup has been?”

Kelly said, in a small voice, “I think the people we have worked with, they don’t see the full picture. They don’t know what to do with me.”

After a minute, Kelly picked up one of Braun’s guitars and performed a song-the chorus went, “Lavish me with your love.” It sounded a bit like acoustic Lauryn Hill. Braun listened attentively. It was nothing like the R. & B. and dance-oriented pop on his roster.

When Kelly finished, Braun asked, “Are you a fan of Jewel?”

She said, politely, “I’m not super-familiar . . .”

Braun jumped in. “Let me give you the background,” he said. “Jewel tried to get signed, it didn’t work out. She drove to California, and she lived in her car. She was homeless, she played coffee shops. She wrote really amazing songs. Then she sold millions of records.” He explained that in the late nineties, during the height of Jewel’s fame, the charts were dominated by elaborate pop acts like the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSync. “But the biggest female star on the planet was someone who came in with a guitar, real quiet, and people would sit there and just be blown away by these singer-songwriter songs.” He went on, “That is the lane for you. There is a time for that again.”

Kelly was wary. Her father said, “So, like, a Jewel-meets-Fiona Apple-meets-Beyoncé?”

Braun said, “Jewel-meets-Tori Kelly. The Beyoncé thing comes later.” He said that the strategy was a marketing approach, not a musical one. “People compartmentalize things. Kobe needs to be like Jordan. Justin Bieber needs to be like Justin Timberlake. You want to dictate to the public who you want them to compare you to. If I was to market you, I’d want them to call you the next Jewel. Because if another Jewel came out, in today’s music market, people would go crazy. That’s what they’re missing.”

Kelly asked, meekly, “How about just the next Tori Kelly?” ?

One of the things that has always impeded the public’s acceptance of David Archuleta is his refusal to be compartmentalized, to be placed inside a convenient box.  He is the whole package who refuses to be packaged.  People want the familiar, the no-brainer, the known entity.  During AI, he made the  media uncomfortable, which was a microcosm of the disconnect felt by many viewers.  Who is this guy?  To whom can we liken him, thereby giving ourselves permission to like him?  I don’t blame Scooter Braun for knowing the public so completely and doing his job so well.  The blame lies squarely at the feet of a complacent public’s refusal to admit that, like many of the scantily clad empresses on stage, most of the emperors that strut before them are also wearing no clothes.

Teen Magazine 2012, Singapore

Posted in Art, David Archuleta, The New Yorker, The Voice | Tagged: , , , , , | 59 Comments »

Here’s A Riddle For Ya

Posted by bebereader on Monday, December 7, 2009

During American Idol, David Archuleta stated that he liked message songs, so it comes as no surprise that he covers Five For Fighting’s feel-good song, “The Riddle” in the pop portion of his Christmas tour.  When the set list for the Christmas tour leaked, I was overjoyed to see “The Riddle”, but wondered if it could be the same song that I’ve loved since 2006.  Does David know every song in the book?

“Five For Fighting” is the stage name of lead singer/songwriter, Grammy-nominated John Ondrasik.  He’s a hockey fan and took the expression used when a player gets five minutes in the penalty box.

David and John are both storytellers; they sing songs that connect to their audiences.  Their outlook on life and what music means to them is similar, too.  In addition, they both grew up in musical families, play piano, are self-taught on guitar and started writing music at a young age.

Pre-David Archuleta (was there actually life before David?), I was a fan of FFF’s music and particularly, “The Riddle”, the first single from the CD, “Two Lights”.  The Riddle’s haunting, yet whimsical melody and simple, yet surprising insightful lyrics, sung in falsetto by John Ondrasik captivated me on first listen and affected me the way some of David’s songs do in its profound message.  As David says when introducing the song, “Why are we here in this life and what is the meaning of all of this?”

“..There are secrets that we still have left to find
There have been mysteries from the beginning of time
There are answers we’re not wise enough to see
He said… You looking for a clue I Love You free…

Here’s a riddle for ya
Find the Answer
There’s a reason for the world
You and I.”

In an interview, John Ondrasik revealed that of all his songs, “The Riddle” was the hardest to write.  It started out as a song on the meaning of life but after 100 drafts, evolved into a song about the love between father and son and was inspired by his relationship with his own son.   “…There are only a couple people who have the pretension to write about the riddle of life [Laughs]–me being one of them. Obviously, I’m not going to solve the riddle of life in 3 minutes and 40 seconds when we’ve had 10,000 years to try and figure it out.  In the beginning, I really wanted to write a riddle.  I couldn’t write a good enough riddle to have the song work.  Then it started morphing into this father-son kind of purpose song.  A guy goes through his life looking for a purpose, and his son, with the clarity of a 5-year-old, reveals to him what makes life worth living at least for him.  That really made sense for me because I have two little kids at home.  For me, my answer lays with them.  Lyrics to me are so hard.  I wrote “The Riddle” in about a year and a half….For me, it was a tough song to write…” ~John Ondrasik

Emotional Connection

When David performs, he is the consummate storyteller.  You are watching someone who is in the moment, making an emotional connection to his audience. Live in concert, you feel this connection down to your very soul.  David’s ability to convey meaning with his singing is remarkable and has become one of his trademarks.
John Ondrasik is also a storyteller, and has “spent the past decade writing deeply personal songs that include social messages, invoke the human spirit and make an emotional connection.”

Life Lessons

“…  sometimes even if it is a hard path to take, even if it has those big hills and climbs and all those scary trees and you can get scratches, and you can get hurt sometimes.  But I think that’s what makes us grow.  That’s what makes us learn in our lives.   So when we get to that end of the path we have all those bruises and cuts and you can see that we had a difficult time getting to where we were; but at the same time, you can say, you know what, this is proof that I went and I took that path, and this is proof that I did all I could and that I was willing to take that path even if it wasn’t the easiest path to take.” ~David Archuleta (Women’s Conference in Utah)

There’s a song on FFF’s newest CD “Slice”, called “Chances”, a song with a simple message:  “It’s all about taking the swing—there’s beauty in the scars.” ~John Ondrasik

Being an example

“As I get older as a songwriter, the circle of acceptability shrinks.  I become more critical of my songs…I know that there are children who are fans…So I can’t put songs on my album that would be unsuitable for children.” ~John Ondrasik

“It is amazing to see how much of an example you can be for other people.  People will pay attention to the example you set.  It always amazes me.  It’s very cool to see that.  That has been one of the coolest things of this whole experience.” ~David Archuleta

What music means to them

“…. just to see what people have said and how my singing has affected them.  It’s just really cool cause it’s like I’m actually doing that for people.  You know I’ve always looked to certain artists and thought you know I’m so glad they had this song that they sang because it helped me so much in my life and to hear that, you know, the same story with people because of me is just…I can’t believe…it’s just like wow, are you serious?  I did that?  You know I’m just so glad that I was able to do that for you because it’s like this is why I’m here.” ~David Archuleta

“…songs like “The Riddle” kind of affect people who are struggling at certain points of their lives.  If a song is a conduit for them to find some strength within themselves and maybe make their life a little bit better, that’s kind of why I got into music in the first place.  That’s what music does for me.”  “To make a difference in someone’s life through a song is a humbling experience and can provide inspiration and energy to continue the grind that is songwriting.”~John Ondrasik

Ondrasik claims that his devotion to his family and his desire to be at home is why his new album took longer than his prior albums.  “Took a couple years to write as I was busy coaching little league and driving car pool.”   (Can’t you just predict David Archuleta, The  Voice,  saying the same thing one day?)

John Ondrasik writes and co-writes music for other artists including Josh Groban and Brooks & Dunn.  He also writes for movie soundtracks.  I’d love to hear that David is collaborating with John Ondrasik on some new songs.  And don’t be surprised if David covers other hits by FFF including “100 Years” or “Superman”, both with inspiring messages.

Here’s a riddle for ya…what has Honduran roots, glows, and can make any song, even the amazingly talented John Ondrasik’s songs, his own?  I’ll give you one guess.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 99 Comments »

 
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