Light On vs. Crush (Battle of the Davids)

So... it's been a while since I've given you all review... at least one worth reading. I know I keep promising you a Max Payne review, and I'm probably starting to sound a bit like a politician, but I swear they aren't empty promises, I'm going to deliver - I swear. I just want to give it a good, rounded, well researched review.

Today, however, you are getting a review... sort of a compare and contrast, if you will. I've been listening to a lot of music lately - mostly Christmas stuff, because I really like Christmas music, and it seemed somewhat okay to start listening to it with Halloween out of the way... and for whatever reason, Christmas music has always gotten me in the mood for Thanksgiving... but music for the most part is a staple in my life. I've been digging around for new stuff, because I'm making a CD for a friend, and I usually ask people to send stuff my way if they find anything they like... so, today I was checking to see if I had any new songs sent my way, and instead found an e-mail asking me to go vote the NKOTB's new video for "Single" as #1 in MTV's top 20 video countdown. I thoroughly enjoy the video - not just because I love the New Kids, but because I am a fan of editing. Anything that is edited so well that it sends chills down my spine deserves a nod where I'm concerned, and "Single" does that in spades, so I had no problem voting it to the #1 spot. As I did so, however, I looked at the videos that "Single" was up against, and upon doing this, I noticed that "Crush" and "Light On" were on the list.

Now, I'm a fairly big David Cook fan, and as such I've been made aware of the "Battle of the Davids" that's been going on. Both Cook and Archuleta released their singles at the same time, and I've listened to both of them... so I felt it only fair to watch both videos as well. As an on looker in this war - I'm not really involved, because I'll be the first to tell you that both are extremely talented, I just prefer Cook's image over Archuleta's - I decided I wanted to give you all a weighed and thorough review on both the songs AND the videos.


Like I stated before, music is a staple in my life. I listen to more old stuff than I do new stuff, so I have a number of songs done by multiple artists... because of the way I judge music, I usually have a problem choosing one version over the other when it comes to good covers (for instance, I couldn't tell you who did a better job with "Little Drummer Boy" if forced to choose between Aly&A.J. or Jordan Knight)... which is why I was extremely glad that the sounds of "Crush" and "Light On" were so different - made it easier to pick out things I liked and didn't like. 

"Light On" - David Cook's first single caught me by surprise. Normally, it takes a while for an American Idol winner's album to come out, so having Cook's single so quickly was shocking. This was good, though, because I approached the single without all the expectations I usually have of an AI debut single. Having it out so quickly and catch me by surprise allowed me to be extremely open minded - my opinion of the song would not be weighed down by the anxiety of waiting for a song, the expectations that come with anticipation... but I feel that, even if I HAD gone into this song with expectations, "Light On" would have easily exceeded them. 

The pacing is slow and thoughtful - reminiscent of Cook's performance of "Time Of My Life." It starts out simple enough - subtle guitar backing Cook's vocals. As the song carries on, Cook's vocals become stronger and are backed by a more powerful band arrangement, pulling from the rock image he created during his time on the show. For the second verse, the band pulls back, once again giving way to a simple arrangement and allowing Cook's vocals to lead the song into another powerful chorus. 

His voice doesn't fail at it's leading role, either - soaked with passion, Cook leads one to believe in the song, understand it, and relate. It just... fits.

The lyrics are poetic at the very least, and absolutely beautiful... but not so beautiful that the rock song genre would kill them. On the contrary, the lyrics suit the feel of the song perfectly, further assisting Cook's vocals to lead the song, as well as supplying it with the passion that makes a single become a hit. 

The song is not just a safe choice for a single, but a smart one. If AI didn't do it already, "Light On" serves to catapult Cook's first album to the top of the charts upon it's release. One can only hope the rest of the album is just as amazing.

"Crush" - Archuleta's first single caught me by surprise, as well - I didn't expect both Davids to release their singles so close together. "Crush" also caught me by surprise, because the piano that led the song off seemed a bit more up tempo than it should sound for a David Archuleta ballad. Like Cook's single, the song starts out slower at first, then picks up tempo on the chorus. A very similar structure, but substance wise, "Crush" lacks what "Light On" had in plethora: reality. Archuleta's single seems much more electronic - using a piano backed by a studio beat. The drum rhythm reflects that of a drum machine, and the guitar laid in the chorus sounds just as fake. 

Archuleta's vocals are good, but lacking. His performances on American Idol showed the world how well he could sing, so to put out something less than what he is capable of just leaves the vocals sounding... empty at best. It lacks the passion needed to push the album, and doesn't reflect as strongly on the listener's emotions. 

That doesn't mean the song is BAD, it's just... reminiscent of a One Hit Wonder. 

The lyrics don't save it, either - poetic at BEST, "Crush" is Archuleta's "Invisible" - Clay Aiken's hit got his album some sales, but wasn't enough to make the album memorable. Not to mention, both have the same stalker undertones. A safe choice for a single, but not as smart when looked at in the long run. If "Crush" gives us any idea of what Archuleta's album will be like, the outlook is grim. True, it shows that Archuleta can sing more than a normal ballad, but also shows that he has yet to acquire the umph needed to get him some recognition. 

THE VERDICT: Screaming teenagers may buy Archuleta's album, but there won't be enough of them to justify a second. Cook's album will appeal to a larger audience, and has the makings of a truly great musical masterpiece. When listening to the songs alone, Cook wins by a landslide.


Being a fan of music in general, I know what it's like to have a great song backed by an even better music video. The ability to highlight a song with wonderful scenes and pump an amazing arrangement with brilliant cinematography is an art that many have mastered. Many, however, have also failed... and it sucks when that happens, as well. Music, as well as the videos that couple it, is best when moving. As one who has been well versed in music, I feel it safe to say that I know the joys of watching a hit like "Tonight" be attached to a video that, on a bad day, can make me smile up a storm, as well as the disappointment when a song like "Picture to Burn" is stuck to a video that fails to get the point of the song across.

"Light On" - Where Cook's song succeeded in listening, it almost fails in visual. 

The music video tells the traditional story of the girl with the jock who doesn't care about her, and the lowly bus boy that loves her more than anything. The "you don't belong with him, you belong with me," vibe is there, but doesn't seem to fit as well as you would think with the song. 

However - it IS artistic. The chorus of the song talks about leaving a light on - something I rely on to get home. This idea is woven into the song in a very crafty way, leading to an obvious, yet unpredictable use at the end. 

Another thing that stands out about the video is the fact that Cook doesn't use himself as the object of the story - a move that earns him respect. There are scenes of him singing the song with his band, but the body of the video - the story - doesn't involve him. He's merely singing the tune to someone else's story, and it gives the video a little more meaning... and what successes like Jordan Knight, Alison Michalka, Zac Efron, and Amy Grant, had to learn, Cook already possesses: Camera presence. He seems comfortable and natural in the video, so kudos to him for that.

The song does end up tying into the video more than one would initially see, but it's the initial reaction that matters - the initial hook, and "Light On" doesn't have it. If the song itself wasn't amazing at the least, the video wouldn't even warrant a nod. 

"Crush" - The video for Crush reflects a lot of the same vibes as the song. Archuleta uses himself as the focus of the video, not really delving below the surface of the lyrics, but delivering them at face value. He is a prepubescent youngin, vying for the affections of a friend. His camera presence is lacking - Archuleta cheeses up his camera time, much like a young Jordan Knight did in the 80's, but without the charm, body, and moves. As opposed to laughing at Archy, commenting on how cute he is, you're stuck feeling uncomfortable, watching him try to sell his emotions. Archuleta tries to relay passion with his mannerisms, and it doesn't fit the emptiness of the song. The idea of the video is the same - you aren't supposed to be with the jerk you're with, you're supposed to be with me... however, there is nothing really woven into the song and the video that locks them together. 

Having said that - the video fits the audience it's meant to reach - young, squealing girls. Taken at face value, the song and video couple together well, the song playing the part of narrator for the fairytale playing out before you. Very much what "I'll Be Loving You Forever" was for the New Kids - but without the undertones that launched it to the top of the charts. 

THE VERDICT: "Crush" is a far better video for one that doesn't wish to pick it apart, a much better fit for a top 20 countdown, but both videos are extremely lacking. 

And that's it... say hi to your mother for me. 


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