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David Archuleta Retrospective Part Four: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Rosanne Simunovic’s Recollections
David’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was one of the most brilliant, emotional performances I have ever seen on the American Idol stage. It was two minutes of musical magic, mesmerizing, almost hypnotic. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the television screen.
I was absolutely overwhelmed with depth of his musicianship. The phrasing, the nuances, the dynamic range, the soulful expressivity, the meaningful articulation of the lyrics, the pacing – it was all there in this singular performance of this Elton John classic.
It’s funny – looking back, before I heard David’s performance, I wasn’t thrilled with David’s selection. Over the years, this song had been performed countless times on American Idol, the first time being when Season 2 Runner-Up Clay Aiken used the song to catapult him into the Top 12.
So, here we were once again, five years later, watching another performance of this song by Top 2 performer, David Archuleta. What more could David do with this song that hadn’t already been done?
Well, as it turns out – plenty! There were so many twists and turns in this two-minute masterpiece performance that I remember staring at the TV screen in absolute awe.
Here is what I had to say about this song via my Top 2 Vocal Masterclass article in May 2008:
“Your first number, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was a brilliant performance, overflowing with style and substance. I have heard this song performed many times and performed well, I might add! However, your interpretation was, for me, the pinnacle of all past performances of this number. It left me in tears – first time all season!
I loved the opening ambience of this number, a sole spotlight on you seated at center stage on the stairs. It not only created a relaxed mood, but also the measured and unhurried pace allowed you to ease into this song. By doing so, you were conserving your adrenaline for the dynamic vocals that were to follow and, boy, did they ever!
However, before we move there, I should applaud you on your excellent posture while seated on stage. Your elevated rib cage provided consistent support to your resounding baritone vocals.
You even had one foot ahead of the other – one foot on one stair and the other on the stair above it -which all singers should freely adopt, particularly while standing. This allowed you to establish a forward position with your body, thus assisting you to generate a forward momentum within your phrase lines. Additionally, you were primed to move easily off the stairs when you changed positions and walked to the front of the stage.
Additionally, your hands and arms were relaxed and free – no tension there whatsoever. You were primed and ready to hit a home run and so you did as the song moved effortlessly and with astonishing artistry to home plate.
I loved that determined walk to center stage, as your pitch perfect vocals started their crescendo toward the climactic end of this song. You added some exciting new soulful elements to this song, gently but distinctly bending the melodic line with passionate artistry and sensitivity.”
This was indeed a very special night for David. He performed three outstanding numbers and hit a home run with each of them. But, this song was his shining moment – it left me breathless and so thankful that we were blessed with his enormous talent via the American Idol process.
CLICK HERE to read the entire retrospective.