With a third season of the American Idol revival recently announced to premiere this February on ABC, it's no secret the powerhouse reality show has helped produce and boost an incredible roster of singers and songwriters over the course of 18 years — including the gracious and talented Season 7 star, David Archuleta. With the now 28-year-old gearing up for the holidays with the refreshing deluxe edition of his Christmas album Winter in the Air and an upcoming tour, the Utah native tells PopCulture.com exclusively that he's not only a fan of the reality show's second incarnation, but has an idea in just what keeps audiences interested almost 20 years later.
"It's the whole experience of discovery, that people get to discover along with the TV show, and they get to vote, they get to participate in that kind of discovery of like, 'Wow, we found something. Let's watch it grow,'" Archuleta told PopCulture.com. "Because you're watching this person get refined on this singing competition in front of millions of people and it's kind of like my vote is helping that person — I get to watch them another week, and then once they get that attention being on the show, I get to follow what they do next, because of the opportunity they had because now we know who they are."
While it was a very different time during Archuleta's season in 2008, which was way before social networks like Instagram or Twitter to help promote an artist's name and music, he adds Idol has always been a helpful vessel for every artist.
"[These artists] didn't have that before — they didn't have that chance of having people watch them and say, 'When are you going to release music?' At least not to the level that American Idol brings them to, so I think that is always interesting," he said.
Since first starring on Idol and coming in second place more than a decade ago to winner, David Cook, Archuleta has since released eight studio albums and appreciates how the show is a generous launching pad for both artists and music lovers.
"People are always looking for good music and good singers to listen to and new people to be fans of because I think everyone loves music in one way or another," the Nashville resident added.
With fans still looking to Idol for good music all these years later, the show resurged its engine in 2018 with a brand new rolodex of artists turned judges in Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie — something the singer and songwriter admires.
"I think it's neat that all of them are previous performers and artists, so they know what it's like to feel the pressure," Archuleta said. "It was definitely interesting before, because Randy [Jackson] was the producer and the musician, and Simon Cowell was record label head, so he looked at what would sell, what a record label team could work with — not just with a talented voice because there's a lot more that comes into being a professional musician performer artist than just having a good voice."
While Cowell was evidently harder on contestants in the most helpful way during the Fox run of Idol, Archuleta admits the famed judge has changed his tone over the years.
"I will say, I think Simon Cowell has softened up a lot," Archuleta laughed. "He's still who he is, but I think when he's on The X-Factor and the Britain and America's Got Talent, I think he's shown he's a lot more emotional now or just being in the spotlight, maybe he's felt more compassion for people — that they're all on the same boat, being in the spotlight all the time. All that."
Archuleta adds that though it's a "tough business" for every singer and songwriter who hits the Idol stage with many finding it "hard to be under the spotlight all the time," he's learned a lot from his time on the show, including who he is as a thriving musician.
"It's shown me that there's more that I'm capable of than I thought I was," Archuleta humbly told PopCulture.com of what he's learned from his experience on Idol. "Because I felt like I would be just pretty satisfied with, 'Okay, whatever. I don't know if I can really accomplish great things in my life. I don't know if I can reach a lot of people with what I do, but it'd be cool.'"
He adds that while the show was "really hard" and everything that came after as well was just "a lot" in a business he was "not prepared to be in," it's been something he's learning more about through himself every day.
"I'm here 12 years later now [and] it's like, 'You know what? I feel like, okay. I've been able to do this. I've been able to get through it.' And I think I just see that while the big things are really the things that a lot of people see and hear and watch, it's very exciting and it's what provides a lot of the opportunities you get."
The former Idol shares that everything he has learned has been more of an "assist to the things that matter most" to him.
"[It] helped to give me perspective and to balance out many other small little miracles that happen every day in my life and every week, and I think it helps me put that into perspective and value it," Archuleta said. "It's like, 'Okay, these bigger things are awesome and what accomplishments, I didn't know I could do that.' But then it's like the simpler things, just knowing that you have good friends or you can just lift someone's day just by speaking to them or sharing a thought with them, trying to just be better as a human being and help other people find their value, their purpose on a more personal [level]. I think that's for me so invaluable."
Archuleta goes on to say that he wouldn't have appreciated how valuable the value in those moments were had it not been for the "bigger ones" to compare them to as usually those ones get more of the attention.
"Those simple things that have always brought me joy are still the things that bring me the most joy," Archuleta said. "But the accomplishments definitely are awesome as well, on TV and an album release or getting to this event, meeting this person and they help fill out life with neat stories to tell."
Another thing bringing the singer joy this season is his month-long holiday tour promoting the deluxe edition of Winter in the Air, kicking off Nov. 23 in Utah that he considers a "spiritual experience" and one that brings about a "special feeling" thanks to the "magic of Christmas."
"To get to [sing classics] and tie it back into just making a fun show as well [and] with Christmas you can do both — you can make it fun and 'Holly Jolly,' but you can also just sing songs like, 'O, Holy Night' and just songs that are really powerful and have a powerful message to them," Archuleta said. "And it's just so great to do both and people are in Christmas, so they're all up for it. They're all about those feelings and that Christmas magic that takes place during the holidays."
David Archuleta's Winter in the Air: Deluxe Edition is now available on digital retailers and online streaming platforms. Visit his official website for more information, including tour dates.
American Idol premieres Feb. 16, 2020 on ABC.0comments
Stay tuned to PopCulture.com for more with David, including who he would like to collaborate with next and when fans can expect a brand new record.
Photo credit: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images