David Archuleta was just seventeen years old when he came in second, placing behind David Cook, on season seven of “American Idol” in 2008.
Since his time on “Idol,” Archuleta has released eight albums, had cameos on television shows like “Hannah Montana” and “iCarly,” and toured with Demi Lovato. But in a new interview with Variety, the now 30-year-old opened up about what his experience on “American Idol” was really like and how he coped with becoming a household name as a shy teenager from Utah.
In the interview, Archuleta admits that he couldn’t wrap his head around why tens of millions of Americans were continuously voting for him to stay in the competition. “I felt so disconnected from everything,” Archuleta said. “Like, 13 years later, I’m piecing together what actually was going on. But it’s still a process because I still don’t understand why people were so into it.”
The “Crush” singer revealed that most of the season seven finalists had nervous breakdowns at some point during their time on “American Idol.” Archuleta himself called his experience “miserable” and “traumatic.”
Archuleta Says the Show Breeds ‘Trust Issues’
Archuleta told Variety that he gets “afraid to blame things on ‘American Idol’ because something in me is programmed to say, ‘I have to be grateful, because where would I be without it?'” Yet he also said that in conversations he’s had with other “American Idol” alums, they’ve connected on the fact that “we all have trust issues.”
“‘You can’t trust anyone anymore, not even your own family.’ That’s what we were told,” Archuleta said. “It was like some weird grooming process, from the very first audition, the way that they were speaking to us, kind of like, ‘you’re powerless little bugs. If you step out of line, then you’re out of here, and you’re going to lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'”
When Archuleta was on “American Idol,” his father was characterized by the media as an overbearing “dadager” type. “Anything to make it look like my dad is this evil man and poor little helpless David,” Archuleta told Variety.
“I think one of the biggest misconceptions people did have was with my dad,” Archuleta told Yahoo! Entertainment in 2018. “People thought my dad had a lot more control than he actually did. Yeah, I don’t always get along with my parents, and I did have some struggles with my dad, but I feel like a lot of those struggles were created from ‘American Idol.'”
Another ‘American Idol’ Alum Recommended a Therapist to Archuleta
Archuleta told Yahoo! Entertainment that talking to other “American Idol” alums — including David Cook, Kris Allen, Brooke White, and Melinda Doolittle — about his experience on the show has helped him feel less alone.
“When we get together, we’re all able to talk, and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going through the same thing I am! I thought I was the only one who was feeling like that,'” Archuleta said. Melinda Doolittle even pointed him in the direction of a therapist she’d met with who “specializes in people who have been on reality TV shows.”
Although his feelings towards the show that launched his career are complicated, Archuleta is still making music, just in a way that feels right for him. His latest single, “Beast,” was released in October 2021.