Although David was already on his mission and out of the public eye when I first became aware of the amazing person he is, I sympathize with fans who are desperate to have him back.
How does our desperation feel? I think David can tell us. The other morning as I was listening to my iPod, Desperate came up on the playlist. Although I had listened to this song many times, this was the first time I really heard it. And what I heard was incredible. David actually conveyed the feeling of desperation through his voice!
This is how I think he did it, but I want to mention two things before I get to David’s vocals. The first is the instrumental background: piano, throbbing drumbeat, and electronic sounds which are mostly loud, and frequently relentless and chaotic. This does not give David much opportunity for subtlety in dynamics or tempo.
Second is the lyrics. Desperate is not a profound song. The word “desperate” is used 13 times, 14 if you count the title. The chorus is repeated four times, leaving only three short sections of narrative to describe the subject’s emotional state. The first two sections convey his isolation and absolute despair; the third, his realization that he can change. Because David always strives for a positive message, despair actually turns to hope at the end of the second section when he sings, “It’s your life; it’s time you face it.” This line divides the song into two parts.
So, how does David do it? How does he express absolute despair, then the possibility of hope?
In the first part of the song, he keeps his voice in its lower register, which communicates a feeling of seriousness and heaviness, and contributes to the idea of despair. By staying in the lower register, his voice cannot soar into higher, brighter notes. Also, David clips the notes, and even exhales a little breath as he ends some of them. These clipped notes distinctly separate the words from one another, suggesting isolation, which in turn reinforces the sense of despair. The only time there is even a foreshadowing of hope is in the words “believin'” and “light” in the chorus. When David sings these words, he holds the notes instead of clipping them, thus entertaining the eventual possibility of hope replacing despair.
This possibility of hope is evident in the second part of the song. As David sings, “it’s time you face it,” he leaves his lower register and goes into his higher register. In addition, he holds the note on “it” instead of clipping it. In the lines, “You know that things have gotta change/ You can’t go back, you find a way/ And day by day, you start to come alive,” David’s voice steadily ascends the scale and his dynamics increase. When he sings “alive,” he holds this very high note for several beats and puts some runs into it as well, providing a bright sound. Ironically, “desperate” is sung ten times in this “hopeful” part of the song, but sung near or at the top of David’s range. In addition, he extends these repetitions of “desperate” by holding them for several beats. All of these vocal techniques contribute to the sense of despair, followed by the sense of hope, that David conveys through his interpretation of the song.
I always thought this song was a first-person account of desperation, that the lyrics were those of a person talking to himself. Thanks to some YouTube comments, I realized the lyrics could be addressed to a second person. I believe either interpretation holds up, although I prefer the first-person interpretation because it makes the intensity of the desperation more immediate and personal, which David definitely does.
Kirailah rolon: Lol Why Would He Be Desperate He Is Hot
HeartSettoLove: Because hot people have crap in their life happen too :p
And NarutoPHC replies to Kirailah with the third-person perspective: Lol he is singing about the girl being desperate 😛
I love becoming aware of aspects of David for the first time, as in this example of Desperate. I find it remarkable that a 17-year-old was able to convey feelings of desperation and hope so convincingly. David’s musical abilities and exceptional character continue to astound me.
And because I’m still learning about him and from him, I’m not utterly desperate to have him back yet. And no one else should be either, because David will be back soon!
Ronaleem is a guest writer for The Voice.