David Archuleta Retrospective Series Part Four: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

David Archuleta Retrospective Series Part Four: Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
By Pamela Pike and Rosanne Simunovic

Pamela Pike’s Recollections

The Shining Star of the AI Finale in May 2008 sang, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Clive Davis picked the first round of songs and David picked the first single from British musician Elton John’s 1974 album Caribou. It was released that year during the latter half of May in the United Kingdom, and on June 10, in the U.S.

Immersed in a spotlight and seated on the mid-stage steps, David Archuleta took a slow walk to the front of the stage and poured out a worthy ballad.

He delivered amazing vocals; his voice was so clear, so pure, and so similar to his other performances on Idol. He always brings something special to a performance and rarely ever misses a note, if any.

He performed as perfect as a singer can perform with flawless talent, and gave a superior stellar performance.

Randy told David that it doesn’t matter what happens, he has to know one thing – this was one of the best performances this whole season and he picked the right time to peak. David had nailed his performance and the judges said that his singing was beautiful and stunning. Simon told him that the song was the best he’ done so far in the competition.

Paula commented to David after his performance, “the sun is never going to go down on you, because you bring out so much sunshine.”

Her comment reminded me of some cute and funny moments during the American Idol Tour. Weather was an issue for the Idols on tour when they were meeting fans at the buses. Often it was overcast or raining causing a delay or canceling them completely.

In one city a fan was talking with Jason Castro and David hadn’t come out yet, and she was worried it would start raining and prevent his greeting fans. Jason proceeded to re-assure her not to worry that as soon as David comes out so would the sun and it did.

So you see Paula was right “the sun is never going to go down on you”, and it never will.

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.

About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

10 Responses to “David Archuleta Retrospective Series Part Four: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”

  1. I, like you Rosanne, loved David’s rendition of this song. I have to say that he had a lot of great performances over the season. I still have all of these songs on my iPod and listen to them regularly.

    The most listened to song on my iPod is David’s version of “Angels” originally recorded by Robbie Williams. I actually like the live performance of this better than the studio recording. It’s the ending that he put on it in the live performance that is missing for me in the studio recording.

    But David had many great, great performances that season. “Smokey Mountain Memories” is also another favorite of mine. His live performance of “Imagine” was absolutely perfect in my opinion. “When You Believe” makes my list as well along with “Think of Me”.

    David was absolutely one of the best people and singers to grace the American Idol stage. My favorites of late are “Wait” and “Falling Stars”.

    I hope he continues to make great music when he returns from his mission. Hopefully he is doing some writing while he is away or at least brings back some personal experiences that he can use to create some more beautiful, heartfelt lyrics.

    I will definitely be in line to purchase anything that he releases.


  2. Thanks so much for your retrospective on this! And thank you for reminding me of Paula’s comment. I think Paula was a wonderful judge of charisma and character. Her comments about David throughout the season were spot on. Like “the sun is never going to go down on you, because you bring out so much sunshine.”, “old soul”, “you have a beautiful aura about you”. This is weird but I felt like Season 7 was a bit like a music version of The Stand by Stephen King, the light of Archuleta vs the darker grunge sound of Cook, Angels vs Teenage Wasteland, a musical battle for control of our hearts. Paula could see Archuleta’s glow. And that reminds be of what a SE Asia reporter said to fans outside the airport when he came outside after Archuleta’s arrival (Cook had arrived earlier). The reporter said what translated to “That one has a different pull. He glows”.


  3. Thank you, MCL. I love your reviews so much.You have helped me notice things in David and other singers that I wouldn’t have noticed on my own. You have also put into words some of the things that I love most about David…his phrasing, how he finishes off his words, etc.


  4. thank you for this. 🙂


  5. To all the David fans: thank you for your kind words. There is more to come, of course, and both Pam and I cannot wait to share our thoughts about David’s incredible journey thus far with you.


  6. Thank you so much for the beautiful words about David. I’m so glad that there is at least one expert in the music field who sees his talent!


  7. Thank you Pamela and Rosanne for this wonderful post. David blew millions of people away that night, including me! He surely left it all on the stage, and I remember David saying that’s what mattered so much more to him than winning. He wanted to do his best! David’s rendition of DLTSGDOM was the best I’ve ever heard this song performed, and certainly one of the best performances ever on the AI stage. I remember when Simon told David it was his best ever, and David was so shocked, that he had tears in his eyes. I think Simon was right!!



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