Season 7 of American Idol made David Archuleta a sensation at 16, but the young pop singer told Boise Weekly that in hindsight, his newfound fame concealed plenty of unhappiness and self-doubt.
“[Internally, there were] just constant voices of like, saying that I’m not good enough, why even bother trying, you’re going to fail, people are going to hate you, you’re going to be a disappointment,” said Archuleta, “... I’ve always been shy, I don’t like attention. There are so many times where I’m like, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
Now 28 and on tour to promote his seventh album, Postcards in the Sky (Archie Music/Tone Tree Music, 2018), Archuleta has newfound confidence in self-expression through his music, a development he attributes largely to therapy. Postcards is a palpably honest album, and Archuleta will bring its tracks to Boise's Egyptian Theatre on Monday, April 8, at 8 p.m. Songs like “Numb,” which Archuleta said he co-wrote using his own journal entries, are painfully relatable, and the album’s title track is a love letter to anyone dealing with loss, depression or another hardship.
“Fear is only love turned cold,” he sings in "Postcards." “Just a thought can change it back.”
Archuleta co-wrote the song, and his representatives said in a press release that it was inspired in part by the story of one of the other writers' relatives, a girl whose mother and brother were killed in a car crash.
"I feel like every single song [on Postcards] was personal," Archuleta said, adding that with that particular song, "... Just from the get-go, I wanted to let people know, like, 'Hey, you may be hurting right now or you may know someone who's hurting. Your heart has been weary, it's been hurt, but it still has potential. It still functions.'"
The album as a whole was highly collaborative. Archuleta only wrote one of its 16 tracks alone—the empowering "Upset with Me," which chronicles leaving a toxic relationship. Other contributors included Jeremy Bose, Trent Dabbs, Katie Herzig, Jeff Trott and Joy Williams. Apart from other musicians, Archuleta said his music was also influenced by deep emotional dives with his therapist ("Sometimes I think I get too introspective, but I feel like it's who I am and I just wanted to share that with people, because I feel like I'm on a journey of tackling my weaknesses," he said) and lessons learned while he was serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile, which he returned from in 2014.
"I did it like four years into my career, after American Idol, and so a lot of people thought 'Well, that's stupid. Why would you do that,' like, 'This is the wrong time to make that kind of decision," said Archuleta.
Despite the pressure, he said that he felt called to serve by what he described as "the still small voice" of God, or his intuition. Serving also helped him step outside of himself and leave behind the pressures of fame, while at the same time helping others. He credited that step back for helping him avoid the kind of breakdown that often hits celebrities overloaded by limelight.
"On my mission, not only did I have time to not worry about myself I was serving other people all the time. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about being 'on' for everyone. It wasn't about being liked by everybody. It was about just being there for others and being close to God and serving people," he said.
Looking forward, Archuleta said later this year he plans to release another highly personal album about moving forward after difficulties. Tickets to his show at The Egyptian cost $25-$45 (subject to change) and can be purchased here.