My manager at work, Kris, and I are obsessed with all things American Idol. Together, we gossip each week about the show and pick our favorites (or our less-than-favorites). We’re even going as far as throwing a joint finale party this year; when I say that we’re obsessed, I really truly mean it.
Anyway, during Season 5 last year, one of our favorite Idols was Chris Daughtry. I remember the night when he was unfairly booted off the show- I was actually let off work early that night by Kris so I could watch the results episode (obviously, this was before my glorious days of Tivo), and I called him on our work extension to tell him the news. “You’re lying!” he cried, not able to believe that our favorite- who we truly believed would make it to the finale- had been booted off.
Unfortunately I wasn’t lying, and so we said goodbye to Daughtry. But by November of ‘o6, the rocker was back with his self-titled debut album. Though the album has seen plenty of success (it boasts being the fastest selling debut rock album in Soundscan history, and has already been certified platinum), I’m honestly a bit disappointed. Though Daughtry stays true to the rock roots that he presented on the show, his album falls a bit flat, with predictable Fuel-sounding tunes and Creed-like ballads.
The album begins with the first single, It’s Not Over. Interestingly enough, Ace Young, one of the other contestants from Season 5, is credited as one of the writers of this song (Daughtry stated that Young helped write the chorus). The song boasts a radio-friendly chorus and hook, and proved to be a successful single.
Next up is Used To, a mid-tempo track about the end of a relationship (“We used to have this figured out/We used to breathe without a doubt/The nights were clearer for the first time that I’d see/We used to have this under control/We never thought we used to know”). Though the song doesn’t have the same heavy guitar riffs as its predecessor, it’s still a nice track on the album. Home marks the first ballad on the album, and is another welcome addition. Surprisingly, the song is lyrically similar to Michael Buble’s jazz hit of the same name; Daughtry deals with life on the road and feeling homesick (“I’m going home to the place where I belong/where your love has always been enough for me/I’m running from you now I think you got me all wrong /I don’t regret this life I chose for me/But these places and these faces are getting old/So I’m going home”). Daughtry’s gravelly voice works well with the slow ballad, and the song is heartfelt without feeling the least bit insincere or cheesy.
Over You sounds similar to most of the songs on alternative radio stations these days, but it’s not really a bad thing. An anthemic chorus (which reminds me of a few, if not all, of Nickleback’s songs) gives the song most of its appeal. Crashed has seen a bit of radio play as well, and is another one of the album’s strongest songs. Though the lyrics prove to be a bit dry, (“And then I crashed into you/And I went up in flames/Could’ve been the death of me/But then you breathed your breath in me”) the album’s producer, Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects), gives the song a much needed polish that makes it stand out.
There and Back Again features a great guitar-driven hook, and is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Again, Daughtry’s powerful voice is highlighted, and I absolutely love listening to him. The song is one of the heaviest rockers on the album, but it works well, and Daughtry pulls it off like a seasoned pro. All These Lives is a slower ballad, and is by far, my favorite song on the album. The song is a commentary on divorce and broken homes, and though the lyrics aren’t anything especially original (“All these lives that you’ve been taking/Deep inside, my heart is breaking/Broken homes from separation/Don’t you know its violation?”), Daughtry gets credit for tackling an issue other than relationships/heartbreak. However, it is again his vocal talent that makes the track; his voice sounds amazing as he works his way through the chorus and verses, and Benson again turns the song into perfection.
Of course, the album has its pitfalls. What I Want, which features a killer guitar solo from Slash, happens to be boring and derivative. Breakdown is another ballad, and while pleasing to listen to, isn’t memorable enough to stick out among the better tracks. Feels Like Tonight is just fine, but again, doesn’t provide anything that makes me want to hear it again; if Daughtry ever performed this on American Idol, I’m sure Simon’s response would’ve been one of nonchalance (his exact words would probably be, “I don’t see what the big deal is. That was boring. So what?”). Gone is another downtrodden song about a breakup. The song is boring both musically and lyrically (Daughtry pinned the song entirely by himself, as well as several other tracks on the album), and I wouldn’t have minded a studio version of his renditions of What A Wonderful World or Walk The Line in place of these colorless filler tracks.
The album ends with What About Now, another slow ballad (this time written by former Evanescence band members, Ben Moody and David Hodges). Unfortunately, the song about heartbreak ends the album on somewhat of a dull note.
Altogether, Daughtry’s debut isn’t bad. He definitely has the talent and ability to make it as a star, but I believe that he needs to find his niche before he can release an album that’s entirely representative of his talent.
1. It’s Not Over
2. Used To
4. Over You
6. Feels Like Tonight
7. What I Want – (featuring Slash)
10. There And Back Again
11. All These Lives
12. What About Now