MATTHEW MORIARTY: What's So Hot About David Archuleta, Anyway?
David Archuleta must be stopped.
Archuleta is the 17-year-old who is certain to win this year's "American Idol" contest. He is an undeniably good singer with nonthreatening good looks and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get ahead. I can't stand him.
There's a great scene in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line" in which Cash auditions, singing a gospel song about how much he loves the Lord. The talent rep leans in and says, "I don't believe you."
Well, when Archuleta sings about being in love, happiness or pain, I don't believe him. His voice may technically be the best, but there is nothing behind that voice. Great music touches your soul, and Archuleta isn't capable of it, yet.
I never expected to write a column about "American Idol." It's been on for what seems like forever and I've never watched more than a few episodes. I particularly remember watching the one when the little Asian kid makes a fool of himself.
I've probably seen a couple of other episodes just to watch Simon Cowell shatter the hopes of some moron who thinks he can sing. I always lost interest once the show zeroed in on people who could actually win.
But my girlfriend decided to start watching it this year. Because she watches it, I watch it. I have to admit, thanks to DVR -- which allows you to skip the boring parts like the entire "Idol Gives Back" episode -- I've found the show surprisingly watchable.
I remember the exact moment that this season roped me in. I walked into my girlfriend's apartment and could hear the television but not see it. Someone was bleating out a particularly empty version of some hit.
"Well, we know that guy's not going to win," I said.
"Yeah, he's terrible," she said.
I sat down on the couch and watched with disbelief as the judges proceeded to fawn all over the singer -- David Archuleta. I hoped that maybe Simon would speak sense, but he had even more praise for the kid, calling him the early favorite.
Archuleta gave his little aw-shucks routine and went and sat down, certain of his safety. Ever since, I've done nothing but root against the kid. Along the way, I found out that he's had a voice coach since he was 13 and has a dad who has been banned from "Idol" backstage because of his meddling.
His unbelievably manipulative version of Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" on the April 29 broadcast made me hate him even more. Dripping with patriotism, the song poured out beyond Archuleta's perfectly white teeth. I remember thinking at the same time how terrible the song was and how it's destined to be released as a single and go platinum.
Then there was his performance last week of some popular new hip hop song. Clearly, he was attempting to broaden his appeal.
"Girl, you're my boo," he sang.
I had missed it, but my girlfriend rewound it to make me watch it.
"You won't believe how awkward this is," she said.
Of course the judges loved it.
At this point, when Archuleta comes onto the screen, we both feel like the people who hate Christmas. I watch his performance and think to myself, "This is crap," and then the judges tell him how amazing he is. They call him a prodigy and a showman well beyond his years.
I found out while researching this article that Archuleta had once been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, which he beat. That may explain why he gets the kid-gloves treatment. I have to admit, it somewhat tempers my own hate. But he's so fun to root against that I'm going to continue.
Meanwhile, Syesha Mercado has almost as much talent, is gorgeous and has such stage presence that I'm certain she'll go straight from the "Idol" stage to Broadway. Naturally, she was voted off this week.
The other finalist, David Cook, is a good singer who turns every song into a rock ballad. After "Idol," he's certain to be the lead singer of some pop/rock band, which ain't a bad gig, I suspect.
At this point, nothing can stop Archuleta from becoming a star. I just don't want him to win. I want to see the look on his face when he loses. Give me that, please, America.
Besides, sometimes it's better to finish second. Just ask Clay Aiken.
Matthew Moriarty is a staff writer. Contact him at email@example.com.
More like this story