Making a strong case for the troubled good guy construct, David Archuleta proves why being nice won’t make you finish last. In fact, in this day and age, it makes you really, really cool.
We don’t quite get it ourselves, but somehow, the good guy has accumulated a bad rep, especially where the Internet population is concerned. Ironic as it may be, firing up a Google search on the nice guy construct will be flooded with hits all concerning the appendage “finish last.” The definitive warm, compassionate, sensitive, and vulnerable man isn’t exactly what is deemed as cool these days. In fact, there have been accusations of it being thinly veiled ploy to get what they want. But here’s where it becomes problematic: What is so inherently wrong with being nice? Have we become so hurt and jaded enough to believe that kindness is overrated? Or conversely, why are we still commiserating an age-old dictum on masculinity that has long held us back?
The old geezers of society have long convinced us with the delusion that the man should be brusque, stoic and hard-hearted. Anything other than these tenets of the binary are considered straying from the assigned norm, making it quote-unquote uncool. However, as society moved forward in time, there rose a pervading consciousness that there isn’t a strict definition to masculinity. From the front lines of the long-standing discussion, valiant men have made great, noteworthy strides in shaking off the ridicule of an archaic perception, subsequently liberating boys coming-of-age from the shackles of the past, later on breaking down the barriers of stereotype as we know it. It is a long, long way to go until we reach an ideal equilibrium, but at least the discourse is engaged. It can only get better from here on out, especially where David Archuleta is concerned.
Once groomed to be a “white” Chris Brown (whatever that even means), the American Idol alum and arguably honorary Filipino struggled with finding his identity in the music industry. Yes, his voice was (and still is) distinct in its breathy, reverb-charged quality, but he was being forced into a box that wasn’t natural to him. “This is what will sell more,” he was assured, and so he relented. But as he was living the dream as we know it from the surface level, there existed a gaping void in his soul. Things weren’t just enough; He wanted something more out of the music.
So, he searched, far and deep, coming into his own eventually with a renewed purpose and an unapologetic sense of self. Straying away from is typical; David Archuleta continues to make a strong case for the unerringly nice. This vigor has seen him partnering with organizations here and abroad with a greater resolute to make a difference. Since then, he has made music with more meaning, lyrically as well as visually, which he has shared with his adoring audience all over the world. In the Philippines, he has struck a partnership with the Mabuhay Deseret Foundation, the largest surgical charity in the Philippines, facilitating free operations per year to correct medical conditions such as cataracts, crossed eyes, cleft lip and palate, burn contractures, post-polio and club feet for the poor, by mounting a holiday benefit concert that also introduced his Christmas album, Winter In The Air. “If I get to reach even at least one person, especially with my music and affect change, then that gives sense to what I do,” he says.
Since the debut of his self-titled album 10 years ago, he is still here, weathering and withstanding the tempestuous nature of the entertainment industry. Without a shred of resentment to him, he is still sprightly and spirited, being debilitatingly nice and incredibly kind, despite what others have to say about it. “I’m David,” he argues. “This is who I am.” With a lot more goals and dreams carefully hung on the horizon of possibility and opportunity, David Archuleta is consistently and maybe almost single-handedly brandishing his sense of awww shucks good to tame the unforgiving precedent for all the guys like him. So much for a nice guy finishing last, right? See, the good guys aren’t so bad after all.
Read the rest of the exclusive one-on-one interview with David Archuleta below:
We couldn’t believe it ourselves, but your debut self-titled album turned ten years old this year. What does it feel like to have that form of permanence in music?
I can’t believe it’s that old already. Yeah, it is like a child and to see how it has grown? Because at first, I was like, what am I Doing? I hope people like this music, and now ten years later, people are still like it and singing Crush. Wow, it blows my mind that music can last. And I’m grateful that I made music that can last, because I thought, people will forget about this in a few years. You know, people move on. But now, people still like it. It is cool.
How did this partnership with the Mabuhay Deseret Foundation come about?
To me, music is language; it’s expression; it’s connection. You can help people understand things through music, especially like me, that you can’t through words. In just a few seconds of a song, you can be deeply connected to the listener. And I love that power. It can be happiness, sadness, anger, laughter…you can express all that in music and people will feel that. [My challenge is] how can I use this to the best way that I can. It’s not about how many people, but instead of doing whatever it takes to get as many people to listen, it’s not worth it to me if I can’t connect.
Something very important to me is personal time. I make sure I have time every day to pray, to meditate. Whether you’re religious or not, spirituality is important. There’s a spiritual nature to us that is more than our bodies, and you have to connect to that. If you try to keep yourself busy all the time, you never hear your spirit, what it is trying to tell you and what you need. Something inside of us knows what we need, and if we ignore it, we start feeling depressed. And it’s very easy to get anxiety by listening to all the other voices and comparing ourselves thinking: ‘I’m never going to be good enough’ or ‘How do I keep up?’ Sometimes you need to take a step back or take a social media fast. I get caught up, too. A few days, a week, or even a month and it was like, ‘There I am. I can hear myself again.’
Even if I have a few minutes, I’ll say a prayer, give thanks and just say, ‘God, what do you need me to see today? What do I need to learn about myself today?’ It’s easy to put yourself down, but through prayer, it can easily helps you look at yourself in a positive way.
I guess I might be a little bummed if it all ends, but at the same time, I know that I’ll keep giving my best. As long as i keep at it working hard, I’ll be happy. Whether everyone forgets about me or people know more about me ten years later, either way, I’ll be happy.
What is that singular piece of advice that you would give other young kids or even older people when it comes to pursuing their dreams?
It’s one of the biggest compliments when there’s a kid that wants to be like you, because they’re in their years where they are shaping who they are, molding their identities, and what they’re going to grow up to become. And if they are using you as a model, that’s such a huge honor, because that kid is important, too. For me, I take that seriously. You know, I like to respect myself, but I like to respect other people as well. One time, we were doing a video for one of my songs about love, and the proposed treatment was a party where everyone is passing out. I argued that it shouldn’t be like that, because if other people see that, they will think it’s okay. They might go and say, ‘Oh, David Archuleta is doing that? Maybe I should do it, too.’ I don’t even do that in real life, why should I portray that in a video for more hits? In the end, I wanted it to show different kinds of love, like someone helping another out. Whoever watched it, I don’t know, they learned something. And if that’s the difference I can make, then I did my duty and I’ve lived my purpose. It brings me joy and it makes happy to do it.