THE FRESNO BEE
David Archuleta, on the stresses of ‘American Idol’ and becoming a celebrity pre-Twitter
April 08, 2019
David Archuleta isn’t tired of talking about “American Idol.”
“That’s my connection to a lot of people,” says the singer who’ll be performing Thursday, April 11 at the Tower Theatre in Fresno.
Archuleta was 16 when he made it to the finals of season seven of the show. He was the runner-up but managed to parlay the success into a hit single “Crush,” a self-titled album and touring career. He played Fresno’s Save Mart Center in 2009 as a special guest for Demi Lovato and returned in 2010 for an acoustic radio gig at Sierra Vista Mall.
“Eleven years later, it still makes people smile,” he says.
That’s even after Archuleta stepped away from the celebrity life. He served as a missionary with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years in Chile. He returned with a new outlook on his career and the makings of a new album — 2017’s “Postcards from the Sky.”
The album is a deeply personal look into Archuleta’s life post “Idol.” The singer started therapy and for the first time since he auditioned for the show, he took the time to question whether music was what he wanted to do with his life.
“I had so many things in my head that needed to get sorted out. ’Postcards in the Sky’ was my way of doing that,” he says.
Archuleta is grateful the “American Idol” producers were intrigued by his personality and story. He certainly wasn’t looking for the fame and wouldn’t have had it without the show. He auditioned out of sheer curiosity and never felt comfortable being the center of attention.
“I liked being away from the camera,” he says. “I wanted to be invisible.”
And he still checks in on the show and is friends with other contestants, including Ashley Hess, who made it into the top 20 this season.
If there’s a difference between the show then and now, it’s social media, Archueta says. Twitter was still in its early adopter phase when he was on “American Idol.” Instagram wouldn’t launch for another two years.
Now, contestants, artists in general really, have control over their own media platforms. They can address rumors and gossip directly with fans in real time, Archuleta points out. He’s thinking about singers like Pink and Billie Eilish — both active on social media.
For contestants on the show, it can be an outlet to share real moments of vulnerability, like Hess did in a series of Instragram videos. That’s a part of the show that viewers might now see otherwise, Archuleta says.
At that, it might have been a blessing Archuleta didn’t have social media when he was on the show, he says. He’s not sure he would have been able to handle having that kind of control over his image and career.
“I didn’t know how to do it 11 years ago,” he says,
“I didn’t want to.”