| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES David Archuleta, who broke millions of young hearts with his soulful piano ballads on "American Idol," wants his first album due in record stores next week to prove that he's more than just a pretty face.
He's still a giddy and excited 17-year-old who's not quite ready for serious dating. But six months after almost winning the top-rated television show "American Idol," Archuleta is about to embark on the music career he has dreamed of for 10 years.
"I think the album shows a variety of styles. One song has a reggae-ish feel to it, there are slower ones and others with a different feel," Archuleta told Reuters.
"I did sing a lot of ballads on 'American Idol' because I felt I could connect with people most that way. But I don't want people to think that's all I can do. I wanted to show that I'm still young and fresh and that I listen to Top 40 radio too," he said.
Archuleta's self-titled debut album will be released on November 11. Judging by "Arch Angels" fan message boards, anticipation is high not only in the United States but also in countries as far away as Malaysia and the Philippines, despite the long wait since the "American Idol" final in May.
The baby-faced Utah teenager's first single, "Crush," released in August, went to No.1 on iTunes within 24 hours and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
ARCHULETA VERSUS COOK
Considered the front-runner in the 2008 "American Idol" TV talent show that ended in May, Archuleta lost the contest to rocker David Cook, 25.
In a marketing bid to keep that rivalry going, Cook releases his first album on November 18 -- a week after Archuleta.
But that's not how Archuleta sees it.
"I know everyone wants us still to compare and compete, but we are so different. Cook is a rocker guy, a guitarist and an amazing musician, and I'm a pop kid.
"I am as excited for his album as I am for mine because we have gone together through this process of watching our dreams grow. This is what we've been looking forward to -- living our dreams and starting our musical careers," Archuleta said.
Archuleta co-wrote five of the songs on the album and is putting a band together ahead of performances on television and at Christmas pop festivals. But he won't be sitting at the piano, at least for now, and he says he still gets nervous when performing.
"Right now, I've been more focused on making sure I am singing the songs as best as I can. I get a little nervous because you don't know how well you are going to do. But it is so much fun when you are up on stage. You forget about your nerves because you are loving what you do," he said.
A Mormon with four siblings, Archuleta began singing at age 6, inspired by a video from the musical "Les Miserables." At 12, he won the junior section of TV talent show "Star Search."
Despite his teen idol status, he says he's still trying to figure out girls.
"I think there will be that girl who I really feel like, wow, she's special. But I'm still getting that idea of what kind of girl I'd want to be with for a long time," he said with a giggle.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand)