David Archuleta posted a long thoughtful blog post about returning to American Idol for the finale. Realizing his schedule actually would accommodate at least attending the event, The American Idol season 7 runner-up arrived a couple of days into auditions. He was only able to be part of the big opening group number, but it appears, for Archie, coming back home was about re-connecting, and perhaps coming to terms with the negative aspects of an extremely intense experience.
I’ve excerpted part of it here. But I highly recommend reading through the entire post here. He’s uploaded some pictures as well.
During rehearsals and being around everyone that I had worked with and worked for before, It was funny in a way to think of how 8 years ago as a 16/17 year-old I let it really get to me and I prioritized what they all thought of me. Now I’ve become my own person and have higher priorities than pleasing heads and producers of shows, record labels, and companies. I realized how much we all had grown up—how much I had grown up. I was grateful for the growth from the show as a performer and person, and for the more uplifting growth I’ve had since.
Before our opening number, “One Voice”, I was feeling anxious. I tried breathing to calm myself down. There were a lot of people backstage and a lot of noise with everyone talking, which all triggers my feelings of anxiety. Everyone was excited, but I was quiet. I usually am in those kinds of situations to not get overwhelmed.
Jordin Sparks was behind me, and asked with her bubbly energy that she always has, “Do you want to say a prayer?” I said, “yes!” She shouted around her “K, everybody! We’re going to say a prayer if you want to join us!!” No one could really hear. Colton Dixon and Danny Gokey came over to join us along with Blake Lewis, and Jordin started praying. During the prayer I felt my fears calm down. Prayers usually do calm my fears. It’s interesting how that works. When we finished the prayer and said “amen” I heard a lot more amens then I expected. I looked up and saw that just about everyone of the group on our side of the stage had huddled around us to join us. It was a special moment. I’m glad that Jordin was willing to be mindful of quiet little me, and also wasn’t afraid to get all of us together like that. It was a unifying experience, which is one of the many powers of prayer—it brings people together and unifies us in a higher purpose with God.
Near the end, we watched from side stage that last moment of Trent Harmon being crowned as the final winner of Season 15. It was an emotional moment for all of us past contestants and all of the crew. We were all a part of this legacy and had worked hard to make it as good as we could. I had to work hard to keep my tears back. We all went out on stage to congratulate Trent and say goodbye to everyone. There were a lot of hugs, tears, and phones filming. (I always automatically avoid the phones and snapchats. It’s just 2nd nature for me for some reason.)
American Idol was probably the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life. The most draining, emotional, challenging, overwhelming times in these first 25 years I’ve had. A lot of people told me my 2-year mission in Chile would be. It really wasn’t though. Nothing challenged my character more than American Idol. Never did I feel so alone, never was I so tempted in my life. Never had I had such a drastic change. Never was I surrounded by so many superficial things and people. Never had I had so many people talking so much good and so much bad about me, having cameras follow me around and making stories up about my life just for the sake of more unwanted attention. I can’t tell you what that did for an introverted person who had always considered himself a recluse, lol. But it has definitely made me stronger. I owe so much of who I am today to my experience on that show. I learned to get over my camera phobia quickly. I learned how to carry conversations with people. I learned how to accept both criticism and compliments—To be honest it was harder to learn how to accept compliments. I had to learn to be gracious and say “thank you.”
Being there for that final show helped me gain closure for a lot of unresolved feelings I had about that whole experience being a naive, oblivious teenager in a crazy world of the Entertainment Industry. American Idol was the opportunity of a lifetime. I tell people it was a once in a lifetime experience, not only because I don’t have the desire to do all of that again but because it brought me to places I never would have even dreamed of going to, and experiencing things I never imagined I’d experience. I thank God for prompting me to go. It was a prompting that I needed to go to learn something. I thank my dad for motivating me to keep going because I would have been fine just stopping after the first audition. He sure did get a lot of flack from the media, but none of you would know who I was today had he not continued motivating me and telling me there was more in me than I gave myself credit for.
For a different perspective, David’s fellow season 7 Idol, Brooke White, wasn’t invited to the finale at all. (I’m guessing folks who weren’t in the Top 3 that got invites had management that reached out on their behalf.). She laments not being able to say goodbye one last time and ruminates on the impact Idol had on her lifevia her Instagram.
A big hug and a thank you to all of you who reached out last night. Nope, I was not at the last Finale in Idol History. I’d hoped I would be, but never got the call. Why? No idea. Was I bummed? Surely. BUT…
The Idol experience is a mixed bag: high highs and low lows, triumphs and embarrassments, moments when producers are calling you darling and giving you cheek kisses and then moments when you feel utterly invisible. Moments of pride and moments of humility. You do something right, then you get it all wrong. Everyone knows your name, then they forget. One second you’re flying first class, next minute your back in the van. But that’s life in the spotlight. It’s on, then it’s off. BUT…
With all that, what Idol was, and has been for so many of us, is OPPORTUNITY. Opportunity to be seen, to be heard, to connect and to be refined. It’s was an education, a university. A place to be schooled with the best of the best, To be mentored by literal legends and to play on a stage with a well oiled machine. It was a family. Contestants and crew, and drivers and PA’s and people that you grow to love. It wouldn’t and couldn’t guarantee a lifetime of fame and fortune and success thereafter, but it definitely gave you a shot, to see how far you could take it. It allowed you to see how badly you wanted it, and to find out what you would and wouldn’t do for it. It gave you experience.
That’s what it gave me and then some. And it was once in a lifetime. It was some of the hardest fun I’ve ever had. It forced me to face my demons. I barely survived but it was an absolute honor to play in your living rooms for a season.
So I wasn’t there last night, to reunite, and hug the “family” and say my goodbyes. Would have loved to. But that’s okay, because I couldn’t ask for more than what I got.
So if my last memory of the finale is sitting on a stage next to THE Graham Nash singing Teach Your Children barefoot on the guitar 8 years ago, that’s A-OK ?
Idol brought me to so many of you. To those who’ve stuck with me through the years, I love you, I appreciate you. And to my idol family, I love you and appreciate you. – Thanks for everything. And the beat goes on…
For many, the American Idol experience seems to be the worst and best of times, but through it all they come out of the experience–if not better artists–most certainly stronger.