Thursday, April 5, 2012

David Archuleta Retrospective Series Part Two: Imagine

By Pamela Pike and Rosanne Simunovic

 In February 2008, David Archuleta took a risk and chose to sing a beautiful, yet haunting melody by John Lennon “Imagine”.  It is possibly one of the most beautiful works of art ever written.  Words can’t describe the emotion connected with this song.
One of Lennon’s most memorable songs, and in these trying times, his lyrics is just as poignant now as they were in 1971.
David actually picked another song before Imagine but knew he needed to do Imagine.  Idol wasn’t happy that he made the change and also wanted him to sing the first verse.  But David won them over. “There are more important things about the song than the first verse, “he said.  “I leave it to what matters, what matters in life and what matters in music.  That song captures those things perfectly, and it captured what I wanted to do with music.  It captured why I felt like I needed to be there and what I needed to say.”  
It is the greatness of David Archuleta Interpretation, sensitivity and maturity beyond his years that renewed closeness to Imagine and its meaning given by the man who wrote it.  Lennon was born to write it and David was born to sing it.  It was a breathtakingly heartfelt performance of Imagine, one that felt you were hearing for the first time. David never fails to reach the height of artistic excellence.
Upon returning to the American Idol stage on April 7, 2010  Season 9 results show, David gave another inspiring performance of Imagine.  Seated at a piano he provided a pure and natural performance with elegance and grace.

Rosanne's Recollections
Although Imagine was not my favorite John Lennon song, there were many aspects of this song that did capture my attention over the years. I think these important elements escalated after hearing David's musical and artistic delivery of this song during American Idol Season 7.

I loved how David expressively punctuated key words within his phrase line. He was and still is the consummate story-teller, always fully immersed in the emotional core of the song and communicating the lyrics to his listeners in a meaningful and genuine way.

We all know that David's technical skills are impeccable. That is a given! Yet, without the emotion to enhance and energize the technical aspects of this or any song, his music would sound figuratively flat, devoid of passion.

David is smart and diligent enough to know that, although technique can ground and direct your voice, without soul and nuance one's voice cannot capture a listener in a meaningful way.

This is what David brings to all his performances and, in particular, every performance of this John Lennon song.

David performed "Imagine" twice during American Idol Season 7: during the Top 20 Semi-Final show and the Top 2 Performance Final Show.
Here is part of my summation from the Top 2 show:

"You ended your Top 2 showcase with a reprise of Imagine and, once again, you performed this number with perceptive artistry. It was just so beautiful and the words poured from your mouth through your expressive vocals and genuine charisma.

I loved the acoustic ambience of the musical background, as it allowed us to truly hear the beauty of your voice and your heartfelt delivery of the words. What a gentle and inspiring way to end the entire Top 2 showcase. Gorgeous!"
Then, two years later, he was invited back to Season 9 as a special guest and asked to perform his signature number. Here are some of my comments.
Seated quietly at the piano, he performed another inspiring version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, once again reminding all of us that he is a force to be reckoned with. The sophistication and poise he brings to this performance is pretty amazing. How he is able to pack so much into one song and yet make it sound flawless and effortless is beyond me. He is truly a rare and precious gem in the musical world.
I think all will agree that we fell in love with David when we first heard his rendition of "Imagine". I don't think I have ever heard anyone sing a more beautiful interpretation of this song. It was a very special moment for me as a listener and as a teacher for I finally realized that American Idol found the consummate performer in David Archuleta. He set the bar very high for singers who chose to follow in his footsteps.

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