SONG OF DAVIDS

‘IDOL’ HEARTHROBS ARCHULETA AND COOK DUKE IT OUT WITH THEIR COMPETING DEBUT ALBUMS

David Archuleta

BY LARRY GETLEN

David Archuleta, the runner-up of this year’s “American Idol,” is in Cincinnati, where he’s having anything but a superstar moment. The squeaky-clean, occasionally bashful and unconditionally adorable singer is appearing on a radio show with students from an all-girls school who collected 64 jugs filled with pennies to benefit a cancer charity.

If that seems like an odd way to spend a morning, it gives you just a taste of Archuleta’s bizarre life these days. But then again, he’s not the only “American Idol” vet named David for whom life has become an affair worthy of a “Twilight Zone” episode.

Immediately after more than 31 million people watched angsty/scruffy 25-year-old David Cook snatch the “Idol” crown from the reach of Archuleta’s tiny 17-year-old arms, both were whisked away to juggle two enormous tasks: hitting the road for the “American Idol” tour, and recording their new CDs at a breakneck pace so that both could be released in time for the holidays.

“I was really nervous at the beginning because this is something I always wanted to do, and it happened so fast,” Archuleta says. “The night of the finale, they’re like, ‘OK, you’re gonna be working with Jive.’ I was like, ‘Whoa.’ ”

Now, with “David Archuleta” set for release by 19 Recordings/Jive on Nov. 11 and “David Cook” dropping through 19/RCA a week later, the world waits to see whether – much like in that other big “younger man vs. older dude” battle that’ll be playing out nationwide on Tuesday – age and experience can win out over youthful charisma.

Or, in the parlance of the now-legendary “American Idol” post-show sales battle between the winner and the runner-up, whether David vs. David will be the next Kelly vs. Justin or the next Clay vs. Ruben.

Whatever the result, the path to it was nerve-racking for both.

“It was kind of all over the place, because I was trying to work on the album while I was on tour,” says Archuleta, who, as he’s prone to do, starts laughing in mid-sentence. “I mostly did it in LA. Some was in Utah, some was in Minnesota, some was in Oklahoma, some was in Indiana and some was in New York. Whenever I had a day off, I’d record in whatever city I was in.”

Travel mate Cook, meanwhile, endured the same crazy pace. Grammy-winning producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day) assembled many of the 12 tracks on Cook’s album while the singer – who set a record the week after the “Idol” finale by placing 11 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 in one week – was still on the road with the tour.

“A lot of it was done via e-mail and telephone calls,” Cook recently told Rolling Stone. “I was face to face with Rob maybe five times before I got off the tour, and I had to bare my soul to this guy. It was really scary.”

One would think, after seeing Cook bring tears to American eyes with his heart-melting rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” while his cancer-stricken brother Adam watched from the front row, that singing to Green Day’s producer would pale in comparison. But baring your soul in any circumstance can weaken one’s defenses.

“The best analogy I can come up with,” Cook said about his long-distance relationship with Cavallo, “is that it was like taking off your clothes in church.”

While the circumstances were similar for both singers, the nature of their recordings hewed closely to their respective pop and rock leanings.

Archuleta, a smooth crooner in the traditional boy-band mode and a novice in the studio, depended on some of the most reliable hitmakers in the business (his father, happily, sat this one out) to craft the 25 songs he laid down in order to get the perfect 12 for his debut. While he’s been performing for most of his life, he found that the demands of the studio provided some unique challenges.

“There’s a different way of singing in the studio,” he explains, “because you’re not feeding off the crowd. You take several takes, you try to balance and preserve your voice, and sometimes you can be there all day – hours and hours of recording. But it’s really fun, because you get to learn the song and figure out what you want to do with it.”

‘NSYNC’s JC Chasez, who co-wrote the peppy plea for love “Don’t Let Go” with Archuleta and veteran songwriter Jimmy Harry (Kelly Clarkson’s “Low”), said that Archuleta showed a maturity beyond his years.

“His voice is out of this world, and he approaches his singing very professionally,” says Chasez. “Some people just jump into the studio raw, but he takes the time to warm up, sit down at the piano, run the scales. He takes it very seriously. When he goes into the studio to sing, that kid is business.”

Chasez says that Archuleta’s vocal strength and endurance – particularly for someone his age – is a rarity.

“After touring, people’s vocals get trashed, but he sang for hours on end and he was still clean,” says Chasez. “It was stunning to hear how much abuse this kid’s voice can take. But because he’s so dedicated to doing it the right way, it always sounds great.”

While the teddy bear of the “Idol” veteran class was getting his crash course in studio work, Cook was treading on more familiar territory, having previously recorded a solo album called “Analog Heart,” as well as releases with his bands Midwest Kings and Axium before his time on “Idol.”

As such, Cook employed a drastically different formula for his debut, including writing or co-writing many of his record’s dozen tracks himself. When he did use collaborators, they were less chart veterans than rockers, some from just mildly popular bands that Cook had long admired.

“I worked hard to write music that forced not only my hand, but the label’s hand,” Cook told Orlando’s XL1067.com. “I wanted to put music in front of them [where they went], ‘We have to put this on the record.’ ”

While Cook – whose first single, “Light On,” was co-written by Chris Cornell and Hinder producer Brian Howes – was more the old pro, he was still felled by some scary moments, usually when working with his heroes. Meeting with Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace, one of his favorite bands, for instance, rattled the Idol. But once that went well, it set the tone for the entire record.

Archuleta, meanwhile, was working with Chasez and other successful songwriters and getting a virtual master class on the topic.

His album’s lead-off track and first single, “Crush” – which has already hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on iTunes – was written by Emanuel Kiriakou (known in the business as Eman), David Hodges and Jess Cates, who between them have written hits for the likes of Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson and the Jonas Brothers. Archuleta made the most of this extraordinary learning opportunity.

“The writing of a song, it’s not like, ‘Oh, this line comes and then this line comes,'” says Archuleta, who, in addition to “Don’t Let Go,” also co-wrote the lovelorn “A Little Too Not Over You.” “Even amazing songwriters have writer’s block. What you learn about songwriting is [that] to become a good writer you need to take risks and [be willing to] throw out dumb ideas. When you throw ideas to other people, that’ll help spark an idea for them.”

Whatever lessons there were to learn, Chasez says he caught on quickly.

“When we were going over lyric ideas, he didn’t let anything get by. Everything in the song, lyrically, had a purpose,” he says. “He put thought and consideration into each line, and he cared about the quality of every second of the song.”

One thing that caught Archuleta off-guard about the recording process was that a song he was less than enthusiastic about upon first hearing it could eventually become a favorite.

“Your Eyes Don’t Lie” is a slinky song of defiance with a whistling coda, produced by Antonina Armato and Tim James from Rock Mafia. Archuleta initially had doubts about working with the veteran writing/producing team because of one of the pair’s other famous clients.

“At first I was like, they work with Miley Cyrus. Why would I wanna do stuff with Miley Cyrus’ people? Just because we’re both young?” he says. “I don’t wanna be in that category. She’s really talented, but that’s not my kind of thing.”

And once they hit the studio, Archuleta still wasn’t convinced that the song would fit his style. “I was like, I don’t know how I’d sound singing that, if I’d portray the idea of the song very well,” he says. “This is another love kind of song, and it was just really different.”

But ultimately, he saw what talented producers like Rock Mafia (whose members have also worked with Mariah Carey and Green Day) can do, and the song won him over.

“I couldn’t believe how versatile they were,” he says. “They did ‘Your Eyes Don’t Lie’ and ‘You Can,’ and I love that song [too]. It’s a really simple song, but I just love to sing it, and I love what it’s all about.”

“You Can” is an acoustic tune that’s sure to strike right to the heart for the “Archies,” Archuleta’s devoted fan base.

“It’s a ballad, and it talks about falling in love for the first time, and how that one person can change the way you look at things,” he says. “You can really connect to it. It’s like I can feel the way they felt when they were writing it.”

Archuleta also worked with Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi, who co-wrote the gentle ballad “To Be With You” for him with Eman. DioGuardi, who also sings backup vocals on the track, worked on Cook’s debut as well. Since her work with Archuleta, she has been named the fourth judge on “American Idol.”

“She’s gonna be a really good judge. She’s so amazingly talented,” says Archuleta. “I had a little writing session with her, and it was really cool to be able to work with her.”

While Archuleta’s CD is being formulated for maximum radio-hit potential, Cook’s will be largely what fans have come to expect from him: a rock record through and through, although one that will shift gears enough to keep fans intrigued, from the hard-edged “Bar-ba-sol” to the more grandiose “Come Back to Me.”

“I just wanted to write a record that really was eclectic and had some movement,” Cook told 1067.com. “There’s heavy songs on this record, and songs with piano, strings and vocal. I wanted this record to be heavy and delicate, all at the same time.”

Considering the timing of the two releases, the speculation about which will emerge as the king of the music charts and the fact that one of these young talents beat the other for the most prestigious title in music, one has to wonder if the two Davids are out for blood, each anxious to demolish to other – at least in terms of CD and digital sales.

The truth is, these Davids are totally BFF.

“He has seriously been like my big brother,” Archuleta says of his older counterpart. “He’ll still text me once in a while to make sure things are going well. He’s a really caring guy.”

As evidence of their closeness, Cook was seen on the “Idol” tour wearing a bracelet that said, “David Is My Idol” – but it was an Archuleta bracelet.

“I spent so much time with him, and we really got close during the show, especially at the end,” says Archuleta. “He understood what I was going through more than anyone else – because he was going through it, too.”

Source: NYPost.com

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~ by archuletafanscene on November 2, 2008.

7 Responses to “SONG OF DAVIDS”

  1. Great article! I enjoyed reading it from the start till the end. Anyway, it does not matter who would win in terms of sales and stuff. What matters is that both Davids enjoyed making the album as this is their passion and it goes out to all their fans. And, come on, they are buddies! 😀

  2. This was a very well written article and I enjoyed it very much. I got the feeling that the newspaper asked this writer to do a piece about the so called “David vrs David” CD releases. But instead it was more about David Archuleta’s recording experience which is so much more interesting.

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article! What lessons we can learn from our Davids, eh?

  4. This is a very nice article that tells the truth and counters the non-existent David versus David wars. These are two fine young man and I wish them both David’s continued success.
    Thank You for posting this article.

  5. I enjoy the article..but I am personally tired of the comparisons and David vs. David, two separate artists, I am not support Cook, there is only room and energy for one David and that is Archuleta..

  6. This article was great. Thank you Todd for posting it. I had been wondering the process David had to take when creating his album and it was interesting to read about his hesitation with working with some very known hitmakers, which goes to show how much David thinks about the song choices and whether they will fit him…despite that the song is from well known people. The people who write the song does not determine if David will accept the song, but whether the song will fit him, his style and his vision for what his music will say to his fans. I love that about him. While he likes to go with the flow…he does not go with the flow regarding his music…which shows a lot of maturity for him. I just love him for being so David….what an amazing individual. Way to go David. Thanks Todd.

  7. David knows what kind of music he wants, and its great he questions what right for him. For as young as he is he has great maturity and wisdom. We seem to forget that when it comes to watching him laugh off questions he feels are not appropriate to answer. He’s a very smart young man.

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