Monday, 23 June 2008

The debut album - What to expect?

Two weeks after the Idol finale and David Cook was announced winner of this seasons American Idol, David Archuleta was signed to Jive for a deal rumored to be of the same, or maybe even more, financial weight as the winner. Never in the history of Idol has a runner-up been snapped up so readily, except for maybe Clay Aiken. As an under 18, Davids contract will have taken longer to process through the courts so it could potentially have been done even earlier had David been a year older. This shows fantastic will and motivation from the men with the money to get David recording and selling records. In an era where the music industry is lacking confidence and is faltering due to piracy, saturation of genres and a transition of how music is sold and listened to, this is an incredibly bold and confident move, especially for an artist who isn't generically associated to any other artist around at the moment. It seems that 19E and Sony BMG didn't think twice about getting David onto a label and prepping him for an album release. David has clearly sparked the attention of quite a few record label executives, with a rumored 7 or 8 other offers from other companies. I would hazard a guess that all four major music media corporations tried their hand at getting David and few independent labels too. This kind of hype and desire to sign an artist is rare, especially in this day and age and even after a month of the finale of Idol, David is still floating around the media, arguably as much as David Cook, with appearances at the Wall-E premier and an appearance on 'The View' as well as various other tabloid articles about his school plans for next year. Jive now has got their hands on David so what can we expect from his album due later this year? This is what I would like to hear...

It has already been confirmed that prolific songwriters such as the legendary Diane Warren and the current in demand Ryan Tedder are already penning songs for David along with various others. Rarely does a new artist get this kind of attention and rarely does a new artist get the financial backing to be able to get hold of songs from this sort of caliber of songwriter. How many of these songs make it onto Davids album we will have to see, but I'm under the impression Jive will fork out the cash for them. David has constantly re-iterated his desire to make a commercially viable album whilst maintaining artistic integrity, referring to artists such as John Mayer and Sarah Bareilles as examples of this and I trust his his judgment and therefore his ability to deliver his vision as he never once dissapointed on Idol and really stepped up to the plate when it mattered.

What David needs in his album is variety. There are three different moulds of songs that he needs to achieve in order for his album to be a success. David needs some songs that are radio friendly, catchy and lyrically fun as well as relevant and memorable. This would be a great first single for David, to really get into the mainstream market with and assert himself amongst the Rihanna's, Chris Brown's and Jonas Brothers in terms of radio play and popularity. I'm not saying he should make songs that sound like any of them, but create songs that can appeal to the same market. It is crucially important that he makes all of his songs relevant to him and not copying others or trying to be something he is not but that would be incredibly out of character if impossible for him to do. He has talked a lot about making a young sounding album so this is the type of song that will really enable him to do that. Achieving this will ensure some radio play, commercial and single success. This is what Jordin Sparx has done very well and Jive seems to be very good at marketing it.

The second mould that I would like to see from David is a more mature, contemporary yet popular style. This is where John Mayer and Sarah Bareilles fit in, again not sounding like them but creating music that fits within the same musical context. I think David would fit this mould brilliantly. Clever, varied and artistic songwriting with some interesting messages in the lyrics and something he can get into more vocally and showing off what hes capable of with his interpretations and vocal licks whilst keeping it commercially friendly, perhaps not radio friendly but something people could really enjoy on an album and maybe use as a subsequent single. David, with the right songs, could take this 'area' to a whole new level as his natural ability to interpret and communicate is astounding. I'm not going to speculate on genre but I would guess that David will aim for some slightly more acoustic, rhythmical 'Think Of Me' style songs here. It would be certainly be a great vibe for him and it would really accentuate his vocal abilities and his ability to really communicate a song across to the audience. Once again variety is important for David.

The last route I would love to see David go down is something more mature, dramatic and maybe spiritual. Only one or two songs but something with a lot of substance both musically and lyrically, something where he can really get his genius vocal interpretation claws into and express something deep and meaningful, messages have always been important to David and this would be his chance to express his soul. Maybe a slow ballad resembling Sarah Bareilles' 'Gravity' or something along the lines of 'Imagine' or 'And so it goes..', a song where David really has something to say and that will really dig deep into our hearts and souls with his vocal prowess. It may not be radio or commercially friendly, but its something I would love to hear from David on his album, it would be even better if he wrote it himself. In his first album, he needs to be careful with this sort of song though, hes only 17 and he doesn't want to come across as being old fashioned or 'boring' but I really think its these sort of tracks that are the difference between a good album and a great album. I think artistically, these could be the most satisfying of all the tracks David records for him and for us and really spark the attention of critics, awards and music aficionados.

The key for David with this album is variety and keeping it streamlined. He needs to find a way of creating different feels and moods with each song as he did so brilliantly (yet uncredited for) on Idol every week whilst keeping it identifiable to him every time. Take a great band like The Beatles or The Police for example. Each album has a wide variety of genres on it but every track still sounds like them and is identifiable to them. David has a very distinctive voice has not been pigeon-holed and should not be pigeon holed into a genre so it is fairly easy for him to achieve this variety. This album is his chance to define who he is as an artist to the world and I believe that to be something of a wide spectrum, which is fantastic and crucial for longevity. Obviously the songs need to be strong and with the caliber of songwriters involved they should be, the key is getting the balance between commercial and artistic right. I would also love to hear 1 or 2 songs that he has written himself. I have faith in him, as a musician that he will reach his aims as he has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve and it appears to be ideal and absolutely spot on. His work ethic is brilliant, hes a real 'tryer' to use Simon Cowells adjective and combined with his exceptional talent, its a recipe for success. Provided Jive do not adversely interfere, which I believe they wont as I have been impressed with how they have handled their other artists, Davids first album could and should be a great success.

However, this album for me is the stepping stone. I'm not expecting a multi-platinum record breaking album from David. I'm expecting an album that will carry him forward into adulthood and give him that experience that is crucial for when he has fully matured. Its the second album that I'm really looking forward to. I have strong faith that his first album will be great, but the second will be better. David is too good for his first album to completely sink however no artist can fulfill their potential at 17 years of age and David still has a way to go both in physical and vocal development. Its truly amazing and a testament to his talent that he can be this good at his age and level of development and people forget that and they did on Idol. I believe he could be a pretty great songwriter too but I don't think we will get to see this until his second album.

The futures bright for David, very bright. Hes got the label and finances, hes got the fanbase, hes got the support, hes got the songwriters but most importantly hes got the talent and work ethic to really make it happen. You cant go wrong with those two things combined and when you have it in abundance like David does, who knows what he could achieve? I'm expecting great things from this up-coming album, but oh my, can you imagine what he will be like when he reaches his peak? Its a scary thought and he isn't even anywhere near there yet. Wow.


No comments: