16 comments on “Honesty

  1. John

    I think this writer needs a good archu-spanking!
    Why is he even comparing David with Christina or whoever? Every writer has his own unique way of expression, whether in music, painting or art. That’s what an “artist” is about – that he expresses his emotions HIS way.
    Like you said, John, a little vagueness and mystery make the story more interesting – and for me, more beautiful than taking it at face value.

    I think the lyrics in STR are classic – they denote anger and cynicism without saying “I am angry”.

    “When you were younger
    Did it occur to you
    10 years from then
    You’d act the same age”

    “One of those complicated soap operas
    I almost felt like I was watching myself”

    How UN-vague is that?!

    And:
    “I know I’ve always been your token nice guy”
    “I know that you rule your whole world
    Thought I could live in it
    But I just can’t”

    Meaningless?
    Not honest enough?
    How explicit can one get!
    Bring out the archu-cane, I say!

    My take on the lyrics of STR is that David was referring to his management/label who wanted to pigeon-hole and control his artistry at a certain point and he was angry with the way he was being manipulated. We the listeners may not be able to tell who he is referring to, but I ask you: Is it necessary that we know? Isn’t it more mysteriously beautiful that we didn’t?

    Yes David does do covers very well – in my opinion, he sings those songs better than the original singer. But these songs have gone through the test of time and everyone is already humming them and accepting them as “good”.
    David, with all his creative juices flowing constantly, wanted to make a different kind of music to put his own stamp on it.
    I remember an interview when he said his label did not think his “new” sound (TOSOD I believe) would work, and David replied “But how do you know if we have not tried?” – words to that effect.
    Well, retrospectively, that sound did not work too well for many people or maybe that album did not get sufficient promotion etc – but it did not mean his lyrics had no honesty.
    Ggrrr….

  2. I think the writer has got the wrong idea of why the songs were successful. Most of the time, it is sound that determines success; if a song has a sound that people like, then it will go far. The problem with TOSOD is that it has a sound that few people appreciate nowadays: happy, upbeat, almost bordering on joyful silliness and also on some pieces, sweet (NOPE); some songs also present a mournful keen like FS. Many teens prefer stuff like Britney, GaGa, etc. You know the drill. Meanwhile older audiences are not likely to relate to such sounds either – if they listen to the pop radio at all.

    I won’t pretend to know David inside out, but from his actions thus far I can safely say that when he writes a piece, he will try to convey his emotions through the song as well as he could, be it in the lyrics or when he sings it. The catch is that he is probably being told to write songs mostly irrelevant to him; songs that are radio-friendly and thus he has difficulty in pouring everything he has into his works.

    The quality of his singing does not change from song to song; he sings MKOP as expertly as he would sing “Crazy” or “Heaven”. It is merely the mood and tone of the songs that differ and that is enough to give an impression to people that “Oh, he is better with his song”. Whenever his voice crests to hit a high note in Crazy, I hear the crowd go wild, but Falling Stars has more high notes that are even higher, yet audience reaction is noticeably different. My point is, the more ‘serious’ songs probably set a more sombre mood (Imagine, Heaven, Apologise) during which people pay more attention to his vocals than ever and thus they think he did better during those covers. People always say he sings covers better, but his cover of “A Thousand Miles” and “Stand By Me” isn’t hyped up as much as the others were. Why? Because in my opinion, these two songs have the ‘happy’ sound and that makes a world of difference already. So what is the conclusion, you ask? Is David better when he sings other songs, is he more ‘honest’ when he does covers? No, it’s merely the mood; the sound; and last but not least, he usually sits during said covers so he has waaaay better control over his vocals. Trust me, it’s much easier to sit and sing than hop around doing the same. And regarding his lyrics’ “honesty”, I don’t believe for a moment that David is feeding us codswallop that he whipped up just to fill in his album. He must have given it thought; given as much relevance as he could during writing sessions. Anyone else thinks otherwise?

  3. I thought David always caresses the lyrics when he sings. He carries us away with his emotions may it be fast or slow and punches us with his voice that move us to the core. That is the reason I am so captivated by him. I thought most of his songs are honest .. from his perspective. The message is very clear. Take Everything and More, is such a beautiful song with good phrasing and meaningful with great melody.

    Bruno Mars – today I don’t feel like doing anything sold millions. This is as honest as you can get, but is this what you want your children or anyone for the matter to grow up in this kind of mindset. Therefore, I am so happy that we have David who are young as he is, but do not push through such messages through his songs. In that sense, he is a young man with integrity and responsibility.

    Zach – I don’t think David just simply whipped up to fill in his album. Is not his style. So, we shall hear more amazing songs coming out from him. In due time .. sir .. in due time .. we shall see him receiving the accolade he so deserved.

  4. Whoa peeps! very valid points 🙂
    And Trace whoa calm down Aunty lol! You sound like you’re about to blow a gasket hehe.

    I’ll have to chew on what you guys have written and try to come up with an equally intelligent analysis 🙂

  5. Zach
    I agree that when songs make it or break it – it is because of the “sound”, not the lyrics.
    David may not have the confidence to write lyrics but we all know he works very hard on them. Still, to me, he has done well:

    – “Paint it over if your world is grey”
    – “Cut the ribbon if it starts to fray”

    Show me a writer his age who can write lyrics like that.

    It is David’s sound that is not totally defined yet. Nothing wrong with his emotiveness. And nothing wrong with his lyrics.

    The truth is, the more I repeat reading that writer’s quote, the less I understand what he is trying to say – in fact he is giving me a headache. I give up.

  6. One more thing – he is totally honest in trying to express his music from his heart. He just doesn’t have enough life’s experiences yet to write music that is comparable to one who has had a multitude of divorces, multiple heartbreaks and what-nots.

  7. Wow eveybody’s got such valid points. In a way i think I get where the writer/poster is coming from but I also think its probably not as clear cut as that. Whether a song grabs my attention or not doesn’t necessarily just depend on whether it is clear or it is vague. For example Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is hardly what I would call clear and on point. In fact I still have NO idea what its about but I love it anyway 🙂

    At the same time, I also love the simple honesty of Adele’s Someone Like You for example and can’t help but imagine how gorgeous David would sound on that. Then again like Zach said, I think David would sound gorgeous on a song of the same melody and mood, etc even if the lyrics didn’t really make sense.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think there’s any real rhyme or reason as to why I would like a song or not. I think there’s too many contributory elements to that that I can’t just lock down and pin point just one.

    But re David’s song writing, the only song that he has written on his own (that we’ve heard) and that came fully and completely out of his own experience and in his own words (I think) really is Falling and that seems pretty honest and personal to me.

    He has said in interviews that he has had songwriting sessions where he finds it difficult to find his own voice and that often there are others with a stronger opinion or voice (not literal) that guides the sessions maybe due to being more experience, etc.

    He also said (I think it was in one of his vlogs) that lately he’s been trying to find out what his own voice is and seeing what comes out when he writes songs on his own. I’m glad that he is taking the time to do this because I really want to hear what kind songs he would write.

    So before I worry about David writing songs that are either vague or are too upbeat and happy go lucky, etc, I would just really really like to hear what a DAVID song would sound like first 🙂

    No pressure David.. hee.

  8. Sorry. Anonymous was me 🙂

    Thanks for all these thought provoking posts and the lovely ever changing banners John!

  9. There’s no ambiguity as to the underlying theme of TOSOD. It’s all about not giving up even when life gets difficult. Be thankful for what you have and never lose hope. How much more clearer can you get? Even the more cursory David Archuleta fan would get what he was trying to say. It’s so David that you couldn’t miss the message. So I’m not really sure what the writer doesn’t hear or has missed.

    David’s vocal prowess is undisputed and this is borne out by the fact that he sang so many memorable numbers on AI – the cover extraordinaire of shows. Who can ever forget the power house performance of DLTSGDOM during the finale? Everybody derided him as a mere balladeer but there he was belting out the song for all it was worth. It was amazing to watch.

    David has such an innate musical sense and good taste that he never over sings a song. Glory notes or flourishes are used judiciously to bring the song to another level and never included just for the heck of it to gain attention. That’s why his covers are such a joy to listen.

    The question is are those cover songs more ‘honest’ than his own? Again I’m not sure what the writer is getting at. Every songwriter will express the truth the way he/she sees it. Like you said Trace, this is true of all artists. It all depends on the eye/ears of the beholder I guess. What truth do you want to see or hear in the work?

    MKOP is such a sweet, simple and soul bearing song. To me it’s one of the more intimate and revealing songs that David has written. His choice of a girlfriend has been discussed since Idol times and he picks this moment to write about it. The line “No matter what she’s looking at the bright side” says it all about David himself. It’s such a simple line but it speaks volumes about David’s aspirations. We all know how upbeat and positive he wants to be all the time and that’s exactly how he sees his eventual girlfriend will or should be. How much more honest can you get?

    Zach I think your 1st paragraph hits the nail on the head about the current trend of the music industry.

  10. Hi all – John, Sheba, Shu and Zach –

    I feel gratified that we agree with each other and that we have an in-depth understanding of David and his music. I can only say that the writer does not know what he is talking about.

    My only worry here about David is, he tries to achieve so much of what he considers to be his kind of perfection, may it be his voice, sound or lyrics, and coupled with the fact that he works at a relative “snail” and cautious pace (Capricorn trait hehe), that he will take ages to reach a sound which he will consider his own and which will wow not just his fans, but also the people at large.

  11. A Whiter Shade Of Pale – one of my all-time favourite songs from the 60’s.
    But never knew what they were singing about.
    Just goes to show the lyrics don’t matter so much – it’s the sound and also the “mood” (as Zach quite aptly put it).
    I had always thought that they wrote this song under the influence of drugs – thus the ambiguity of the lyrics. 😀

  12. I read somewhere that says that pop songwriting has a different format than country song. Country song tells a story whereas pop song can be vague or in poem format.

    To me, primarily sound/melody of the song plays a huge part in a song, followed by how the singer delivers the song. Lyrics comes much later when one likes the melody of the song. I believe David’s songwriting will improve as he grows older and wiser. 🙂 TOSOD displays simple lyrics that are easily understood straight away without much anlaysing what the heck he is singing about. 🙂

    John – haha…the girl is just “lepak-ing” in Tom’s Diner and the sound the singer makes remind me of “bionic man” when he uses his bionic legs to run.

    Trace – haha.. I really don’t know what the song is about but the melody of the song is nice. Very 60’s-ish feel.

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