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Former teen ‘Idol’ David Archuleta on Christmas in Tacoma and fighting the negativity in his head

DECEMBER 17, 2019 06:00 AM  

 

It’s been more than a decade since David Archuleta won America’s heart if not the competition as the 2008 runner-up on “American Idol”.

The 16-year-old Utah native was suddenly thrust into worldwide fame.

Since then, there have been albums, world-wide tours and a two-year break while he served as a Mormon missionary.

It’s been more than a decade since David Archuleta won America’s heart if not the competition as the 2008 runner-up on “American Idol”.

The 16-year-old Utah native was suddenly thrust into worldwide fame.

Since then, there have been albums, world-wide tours and a two-year break while he served as a Mormon missionary.

There also was a lot of self-doubt, the singer, now 28, says.

Archuleta is in the middle of a Christmas tour that he’s bringing to Tacoma’s Alma Mater Dec. 19. It’s his fifth Christmas tour over the past decade.

“I do love Christmas tours,” he said in a phone interview from Moab, Utah. This one promotes the new deluxe edition of his 2018 Christmas album, “Winter in the Air”.

“Winter” was Archuleta’s second Christmas album. He’ll be singing from that and his first Christmas album, “Christmas from the Heart”. He’s accompanied by a three piece band.

Archuleta is also out with a music video with former *NSYNC members Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick. It’s a cover of the boy band’s 1998 hit “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”. The collaboration came about when a mutual friend of Archuleta’s and Bass’s suggested the cover.

“It evolved into a video and then getting Lance and Chris to be in the video, which was a lot of fun,” Archuleta said.

Archuleta spends about a quarter of his year on Christmas, whether it’s touring or writing songs with his co-writers Cason Cooley and Dave Barnes.

“Last year, I started in January because it was snowing. So, we decided to write a Christmas song while it was cold and snowy,” he said. That’s how “Winter in the Air” came about, he said.

Sometimes, he writes Christmas songs in summer.

“It’s not too hard to get in the Christmas spirit, once you start thinking about it,” Archuleta said.

Archuleta acknowledges breaking into the Christmas canon is challenging.

“There are so many Christmas songs we never hear about because they just don’t click with people or they don’t get the support they need,” he said. “But I did try. I want a Christmas song like Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Underneath the Tree,’ so that’s why I wrote ‘Christmas Everyday’.”

TEEN ‘IDOL’

Archuleta released a single, “Paralyzed,” earlier in 2019. He calls the song “therapeutic.”

“This is all building up inside of me, so I need to get it out, and music is one of the best ways for me to get it out,” he said.

Archuleta said the song reflects his struggle with negative thinking.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve had to fight a lot of negative thoughts,” he said. “Negatively towards myself. I’ve tried to think positively and not pay attention to the negative thoughts. But when they’re shouting at you, they overtake you. It’s hard to overcome it.”

Archuleta’s story — national fame at age 16 — might seem like a dream to many. But the real story isn’t a fairy tale.

“You’re so influenced by so much, you’re going through so many emotions,” he said of that time. “You’re so self-conscious. And to suddenly be so self-conscious at a time when millions of people are giving you a reason to be more self-conscious is really tough. It really messes with your mind.”

Archuleta said he didn’t believe in himself until he made it onto “Idol”. Only when dozens, then millions, of people got behind him did his attitude change. But, not necessarily for the better.

“It’s almost like that becomes your drug,” he said. “If people don’t tell me I’m great all the time … then you get the crash.”

That need for approval transferred over to social media as it became more prominent.

“I was feeling so obsessed with what people were thinking of me, just a couple weeks ago,” he said.

Shortly after his “Idol” debut, Archuleta was out with his first single, “Crush,” which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

He was still a boy thrust into the adult’s world of show business.

“Everyone is trying to make money off of you, exploit you however they can,” he said. “Who do I trust?”

Archuleta began to question why he was in show business.

“Why am I doing this? This is supposed to make me happy. Well, I’m not very happy,” he recalled. “I would talk to my other peers, and all of them are super unhappy. But then, we’d have to go on award shows and in front of other bands and act like, ‘Wow. This is just amazing.’ Just because people expect you to be like that.”

When Archuleta was in his early 20s, he spent two years as missionary in Chile with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was an opportunity for him to escape his fame.

“They didn’t have ‘American Idol’ there,” he said. “It wasn’t a thing there. If people did recognize me, it’s because they recognized me from ‘iCarly’ or ‘Hannah Montana,’” he said, referring to tween shows he’s appeared on.

“It was usually the other missionaries that would blow my cover,” he said.

He recalled passing a compound in the countryside where a group of girls was celebrating a birthday. One of them recognized him.

“They all started screaming and running for me,” he recalled. “I just told my companion, ‘Elder, let’s go,’ and we started running. They were so fast. I couldn’t believe how fast they were. Luckily, the gate was locked so they couldn’t get out. All these arms were trying to reach out and grab us.”

Archuleta’s faith didn’t fit with his show business career at first, he said. But now, he has woven the two together.

“I’ve become more open about it,” he said. “At first, I was like, ‘This is taboo. People think I’m weird for being religious and being a Mormon.’ So, I just kept quiet.”

He doesn’t push his religion, he said, but he doesn’t shy away from it.

“That’s what I love about Christmas,” he said. “It’s a time when everyone can feel that spiritual side of life with music, even if they’re not religious.”

DAVID ARCHULETA

When: Dec. 19, 8 p.m.

Where: Alma Mater, 1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma

Tickets: $25-30 at eventbrite.com

Information: davidarchuleta.com/