Utah's "boy next door" David Archuleta did us proud. Although he did not win "American Idol" for 2008, 17-year-old Archuleta clearly won over judges and fans of all ages.
The Murray High School student has demonstrated remarkable grace and composure over the duration of this contest. People closest to him say his newfound fame has not gone to his head, which is remarkable. A less-grounded teen could easily be swept up in the trappings of fame.
Instead, Archuleta has been the picture of humility. Sometimes he's appeared overwhelmed by the extensive support of fans in the Beehive State. David Cook, who was voted "American Idol" over Archuleta, has repeatedly commented on what a "great kid" Archuleta is. "Utah, you did a great job raising that kid. He's as genuine as they come, and I'm honored to have shared the stage with him," Cook said in a Fox TV interview.
While American culture is very focused on winners taking all, the history of "American Idol" suggests that some runners up and finalists have had more lucrative careers than some winners. Jennifer Hudson, who was sixth runner-up in the 2002 run of "American Idol," won an Oscar for her role in the hit motion picture "Dreamgirls." Other notable runners-up include Clay Aiken and Chris Daughtry.
In an interview with EW.com (Entertainment Weekly), the ever-gracious Archuleta was asked whether he was disappointed in the outcome of the contest. "Oh no," Archuleta said. "How can you be disappointed? I mean, making the top two, and then, just, I feel so good about my performances yesterday (Tuesday night). How can you be upset about it?"
There's a lesson there for Utahns. Yes, many Utahns were deeply disappointed by the contest's outcome. Perhaps Utahns should adopt Archuleta's attitude toward this experience. He did a remarkable job. He felt good about how he sang and performed. His star will continue to shine.
Some of that light, undoubtedly, will cast on the family, friends and fans who have come to know and love a genuinely sweet kid from Murray, who, by the way, has an incredible set of pipes.
Well done, David A.