Maybe it’s just a surmising conclusion and what I see doesn’t mean anything at all, or maybe there’s a pattern here. But what I have seen and realised over the last decade or so is that talent competitions, and more specifically American Idol, have produced some of the most emotive, heartfelt, talented and compelling artists this modern generation has ever seen. I know such a claim is by all means bold, and many, many people could disagree with me, and that’s ok. But I’m only going by what I’ve seen. Artists like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Kris Allen, Scotty McCreery, Jordin Sparks, Katharine McPhee, Danny Gokey, Phillip Phillips and Clay Aitken have all had varying amounts of succuss post-Idol, all of whom have given to us songs of hope, encouragement and challenging words to think and process over. Enter in another artist, one that I firmly believe has made a mark on music in general over the last decade or so. While still not very as known or even as popular as other mainstays like OneRepublic, Coldplay, Switchfoot and Evanescence (all of whom are very similar to this artist I’m about to unpack today), American Idol season 5 finalist (4th place) and rock band Daughtry exploded onto the music scene with their eponymous band (Daughtry is lead singer Chris Daughtry’s last name, and their first album is indeed called Daughtry!) way back in 2006. Fast forward to 2019 and they sit as high as no. 3 on the list of most successful artists post Idol (#1 and #2 are occupied by none other than Carrie and Kelly respectively!), all the while delivering songs of importance as the band themselves have changed what it means to create great rock music with a solid message and an inspirational edge. Daughtry have, I reckon, shown us a great example of what it means to thrive in the rock industry that isn’t all about inspiration or even anything to do with a wholehearted message at this point. Which is a shame. Nevertheless, Chris Daughtry and co. have decided to make good music as well as impart values upon society, that we all need to strive and live by. Chris has given to us a band that is truly underrated, and one that makes me smile anytime I listen to them. While I am still on the fence as to whether they have influenced music as a whole, I know this for sure- they have influenced a lot of their fans, myself included, and with lists like this being as subjective as they are, Daughtry’s presence upon such a list like this can be determined as controversial, and maybe that’s ok.
If you have been reading any of my posts and the blog series from its inception in February 2019 up until now, you may have noticed one particular thing- my posts are long, and I mean, really long. Not that I even intend to write them as long as I have, it’s just that for me, I’ve been immersed so much into their music that I have written and written and written…one because there’s a lot to say, about artists like U2, Dc Talk, Newsboys, Skillet, Phil Collins, Shania Twain and the like, but secondly, I tend to write and write, maybe to even convince myself that these artists are deserving enough to be placed on such a list of this magnitude and grandeur. Because if you’re like me, you want to justify your selections, you want to state your case as to why you believe this artist is in a certain list, and why this artist, maybe even equally deserving, isn’t. But as I’ve been reflecting upon how my writing style has been these last few months, I’ve noticed that it cannot be sustainable or even healthy. For me to try and ‘convince’ you all that this artist, or in this week’s case, Daughtry, is deserving, means that I can have doubts about my own validity of the list…and that has sometimes been the case, maybe even from day dot. But enough with the real honesty right here. What I will say is this- this list is subjective for a reason. Sure there are some unmovable artists from any Best OF Artist’s list, from U2, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, to Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Leonard Cohen and Olivia Newton-John, to say the least. But all in all, a list is just that- a list- subjective. There’ll be artists there that you may never agree with, and that’s ok. They’ll be an artist that I have intentionally placed off such a list, that I know are influential, but can’t in my conscience write about them or even listen to them- artists like Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams, Korn, Green Day and George Michael- and on any other day, in any other universe, if someone else was writing the list and not me, they’d be there, no question. Which begs the question- is Daughtry really deserving of such a prestigious honour, when I know that I’ve willingly omitted certain artists because of my own personal beliefs and my ‘gut’? Maybe, maybe not, but I will still say this- being placed 3rd behind both Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson as being the 3rd successful American Idol alum in all American Idol history is certainly saying something.
To be candid and perfectly honest, I reckon everyone thought that Daughtry was going to win the American Idol season he was performing on…and so when he was booted off in 4th place, it came as a shock- the judges loved him, the audience both in the live studio plus at home, also loved him. And so his shock exit on the competition show was a little unexpected…nevertheless, what transpired afterward was nothing short of a miracle (or a que sera sera moment or a ‘meant to be’, whatever you want to call it). Daughtry, despite the earlier exit on American Idol, still went on to deliver great songs and albums- and to this date, Daughtry’s self-titled 2006 album remains to be their best selling album, and one of the best selling rock albums of the 2010s decadal era. With songs like ‘Home’, ‘It’s Not Over’, ‘What About Now’, ‘What I Want’ and ‘Over You’, Daughtry’s first has a sentimental sheen over it, in fact, dare I say that ‘Home’, as popular now than ever, is arguably not only one of Daughtry’s most meaningful, but also one of the decade’s most meaningful as well? For someone to exit a show and then have a quick turnaround into delivering an album, and then to include such a song as ‘Home’, is impressive and a reminder of the talent and quality of Chris and his band. The song itself- about going home, be it a physical sea-change, or a change of heart or mindset. It is a moment where we realise that home is not a physical place, but rather, it is with the people we’re in relationship with. ‘Home’ the definition means a lot of things to a lot of people, and the song ‘Home’ means a lot as well. It is where there is unconditional love flowing to us as we feel safe in the presence of our family and friends who love us without condemnation or expectation. It is when we can be in a place where we affect the culture in a positive way. It is where we can be ourselves, in the calm but also realising that the chaos can drop on us at any moment. ‘Home’, both the song and its definition, has reminded me that indeed there is no place like home, and that sometimes places and faces, and families and different cities evoke emotions in us that we may not have thought were there in the first place…and that is a good thing. ‘Home’ is a healing song, and arguably one of Daughtry’s best.
That’s not to say that Daughtry’s discography and his influence only relies on this one song ‘Home’. Far from it. Sure, much of the radio success did come from his debut album, but there are still other songs out there that are as compelling. ‘What About Now’, a song I first heard through the cover boy-band Westlife and their recording in 2009, is one such song from Daughtry’s debut to leave an impact upon myself- a timely reminder that what we’re feeling inside and what we believe needs to be done for a relationship on the brink to work, needs to be expressed now, in the moment- hence the song title. It is a song about urgency, of the necessity for us to do something- whether it is to fix a relationship, or just to use whatever we have and the gifts and talents given to us to further the betterment of society as a whole. ‘It’s Not Over’ is a declaratory statement about a relationship that is on the brink as well (seems like a lot of Daughtry’s songs are about relationships that are possibly breaking apart), stating that whatever a couple had prior to arguments and fights need not be discarded because, as the title of the song alludes to- it’s not over- and I know this, especially when God is involved with restoring marriages.
‘September’ (no not the same ‘September’ as the one by Earth, Wind and Fire), a mid-tempo ballad about reminiscing and nostalgia, and calling upon memories of the past to recall the good times of the past and to be grateful for life in all its nuances and facets, is a song that I believe is as underrated as Daughtry as a band is as well, while the song ‘Life After You’ laments a life after a breakup and states boldly, albeit a little untrue, that there’s no life without the person that is not currently in their life. ‘Life After You’ is a reminder to always reconcile and long for a way to work through issues and circumstances, rather than just breaking things off because it’s ‘easier’; while ‘Tennessee Line’, from Daughtry’s second album Leave This Town, employs a country element to it as Vince Gill, country star legend and husband to CCM songstress Amy Grant, appears in a melody full of reflection and tranquillity as the persona credits a place like Tennessee in changing his mind and his life from chasing a dream in L.A. Maybe the life in L.A. could’ve been destructive, maybe staying in ‘Tennessee’ will stifle things creatively, but this song calls us to make hard decisions, to figure out if we want the fame, often at the expense of our souls and humanity in the process. Taken from his self-titled debut, ‘Over You’, though lyrically depressing and about a persona who is declaring that they are happy that they’re over this person; has helped countless of people who have been going through breakups, and is a reminder that sometimes, songs like this do have their purpose, even if I myself couldn’t see it initially; while ‘Crashed’, again from Daughtry, is a spiritual-esque melody about thanking either God or a really, really good friend, for helping through difficult circumstances, crashing into us and altering our lives in the best way possible, often during the worst times possible. ‘Feels Like Tonight’, a song written for Chris Daughtry, during his time on American Idol, was used and placed in the debut album instead- the song itself is a desperate plea and yearning to make things right between lovers, friends, or even siblings, as we as a human race realise that playing the other person in whatever case will only get us all tangled up in messiness- and ‘Feels Like Tonight’ is hopefully a call into action, for many people who long for their relationships to become what it once was.
Another song that the band wrote about and recorded that I’m sure was difficult, is ‘No Surprise’, where the persona as well as the other who’s in the relationship, both know it’s heading towards an end, and thereby, it should be no surprise, to both of them, that the end is nigh. Break-ups, whether you’re doing it or on the receiving end, are hurtful generally, and such a song like this can hopefully be a catalyst for anyone who’s in a relationship now, where both people know there’s never going to be reconciliation. A song that’s indeed sad, ‘No Surprise’ tells us a lot about relationships in general- that relationships come and go, and that we need to latch onto the relationships that last- with our spouses, our family and friends. ‘Crawling Back to You’ is indeed another song that is raw and emotional, from the band’s 3rd album Break The Spell. A melody about reconciliation and realising that you have always been in the wrong, and that humility and reconciliation are higher on your list rather than wanting to be right; we are given the overall feel that much of Break the Spell is underrated, and an album that I’m sure gets overlooked often by people in general- I know I’ve overlooked the album more times than I should’ve when listening to songs by Daughtry in preparation for this post. Yet, some of the most emotive songs by the band are from this 2011 set of songs.
‘Renegade’, the first single from the album, is as much rock anthem as it is a statement, that being a renegade is to realise that in order to stand for something, it means to turn your back on what is said to be popular, what is said to be assumed true, and to follow something radical and often uncertain. The song is a reminder of my own Christian faith, and how we as Christians don’t fit in, and are indeed renegades living in this life of sameness. ‘Start of Something Good’, a song that could’ve easily landed on any album by any country artist and it would’ve fit directly in no question, is a melody that is part-love song, part epiphany, part revelation, as Chris and co. call for us to realise the good things in life when we see them. That when there is a moment where we believe that there is the beginning of something good about to bloom and take fruit, we ought to be grateful and thank the Lord for such circumstances and the lives we are in currently. A song where we have to be grateful at every turn, Daughtry also imparts to us a heartbreaker in ‘Gone Too Soon’, also on Break the Spell. Singing from the POV of a family friend, who lost their child via miscarriage around the same time the song was written, ‘Gone Too Soon’ tells of a persona who is lamenting for the child that should’ve been, and is a careful and timely sobering account of how life is fragile and we need to cherish it as much as we can. Never have I seen a song as vulnerable as this one from Daughtry, a statement that asserts my own understanding of his song writing ability and staying power in such a business as the music industry is in right now. ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Everything But Me’ and ‘Losing My Mind’, also all from Daughtry’s most underrated album (yes, Break the Spell!) are other standouts to me from the album, this last week or so, as the band impart important and meaningful messages within these songs- ‘Rescue Me’ is a blunt and personal call for some type of salvation- be it physical or even spiritual, while ‘Everything But Me’ is a sober reminder that you can have everything in this life, but it will still mean nothing if you don’t have anyone to spend it or share it with. ‘Losing My Mind’ tells of the things that could and may happen when you do fall in love with someone- to the outside world, it may look like you’re losing your mind- doing things you may not have considered doing- in the name of love, of course. It is a reminder that love (and everything else that comes along with it) is a game changer, and losing our minds is something that often, should happen in order for us to distance ourselves from daily stress and to see life from the eyes of people in love.
If you were to ask me with albums by Daughtry has made an impact on my own life of late, I’d say it’d be the last two albums the band has undertaken- Baptized and Cage to Rattle– that’s not to say that the songs prior aren’t as good- ‘Home’ is by far one of my favourite songs by Daughtry, full stop; and underrated songs like ‘Gone Too Soon’, ‘Tennessee Line’ and ‘Crawling Back to You’ are songs that will continue to be in my Spotify Playlists in months and maybe even years to come. But for me, aside from ‘Home’, one of the earliest songs I heard from the band would have to be ‘Waiting For Superman’, from his 2013 album Baptized. A song that highlights our own human need for a Saviour, we are met with allusions and parallels to Superman, and a reminder of what it really means for us to hold onto and cling to superhero stories in modern day society. Superheroes give us a sense of comfort and feeling like we have someone watching over us, even when we know truly in our hearts that such things like Superman aren’t as real as we think. Nevertheless, ‘Waiting For Superman’ is a song about longing for the hero that maybe we thought was something but really wasn’t, and gives us a sense of anticipation again as we hopefully understand that the real superheroes in the lives of ourselves are indeed the people around us who love us unconditionally- alongside God Himself. Though not a single at all, ‘I’ll Fight’ starts off with an acoustic riff, as Chris Daughtry himself delivers a song with a message for his own kids- that ‘…if you ever fall down straight to the bottom and you can’t get back where you started, any place any time, you gotta know for you I’ll fight…’; while a song like ‘Long Live Rock and Roll’, also not a single (but surprisingly included on the band’s compilation project released a few years ago), tells of nostalgia and how the artists that have been and gone in the music industry have all given a bit of themselves so that rock and roll can look and sound like as it is today. Rock and roll in its purest form hasn’t really been sought out with as much integrity as it should- and so a song like this that can actually challenge us into altering our beliefs of rock and roll period; is something to be in awe of. ‘Battleships’ and ‘Broken Arrows’ are the raw and honest moments of Baptized, as the band deliver poignant themes in need of listening to again and again for us to soak in the messages and utilise them in our own lives- ‘Battleships’ speaks of a love teetering on splitting up, but realising that working on a relationship is far better than the alternative, especially when people know they have a love that’s like battleships; while ‘Broken Arrows’ expresses the vulnerability of wanting a significant other to see past the mistakes made by the persona. It is a reminder of a longing to make things right, using the metaphor of broken arrows to imply that often what we do and what we say, can never turn out as we expect them to. Nevertheless, such poignant songs can hopefully challenge us to be better, in all aspects of life.
Cage to Rattle dropped in 2018, and while for me I’ll always hold Baptized close to my heart (because a majority of the songs I heard way back when I didn’t even know who Daughtry really was), Daughtry’s 2018 album is nevertheless heartfelt- songs like ‘As You Are’, ‘Deep End’, ‘Backbone’ and ‘Bad Habits’ are some of my own favourites from this 2018 set of 10 songs. Courage and fear are discussed in the album. Pain is discussed. Habits and addictions are discussed. Even being vulnerable and letting the world know your true self is showcased in ‘As You Are’, quite possibly one of the most relevant Daughtry songs that can literally change a generation. The lyrics are powerful, and is a timely reminder that family unconditionally loves us regardless- in effect, as we are. It is a great song to keep listening to for months to come, and hopefully will be a catalyst for us all to share our own testimonies and stories, knowing full well that we are loved and treasured, as we are. All in all, Cage to Rattle is such an album that’d you’d listen to once, find a few standout songs, and maybe listen to again someday…and that’s ok. It’s not my favourite Daughtry album, and maybe it doesn’t have to be. Albums speak to different people at different times, and for me, Baptized, for whatever reason, will continue to get a lot of spins from myself in the upcoming months ahead!
Here we are in 2019, and Daughtry have given us 5 albums spanning 13 years. Nevertheless, regardless of the amount of albums within the time frame, the quality of the songs are impactful and heartfelt, emotive and overwhelming as a lot of the songs act as beacons of hope and places of comfort as Chris and co. deliver melodies where we realise that it is ok to be vulnerable but also deliver a song that is as rock as it is uniquely ‘Daughtry’ and no one else. For the band to come from their self-titled debut to now, all the while still operating at 3rd behind Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson as the most successful American Idol alum post-Idol, is nothing short of miraculous- and it is. Daughtry has shown us what good quality rock-n-roll music is, and a reminder that vulnerability through music isn’t considered a weakness or even a hindrance, but rather a strength as we see the relatability through the music, in such a way that we can connect on a deeper level to said artist throughout their discography. And as Daughtry themselves offer to us unique renditions of Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ alongside Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’- to show us the versatility of the band and even the timelessness of these songs in general, Daughtry have showcased performances that leave us choked up with emotion. Most of their discography is underrated, in fact, Daughtry themselves are underrated when it comes to music as a whole. And maybe that’s a good thing. Often to find the good artists, you need not look at the publicised ones, but those who dive deeper underground and toil with hard work, delivering songs that mean something to someone, rather than colliding with the pop of today. Daughtry is one such band where songs are deep rooted in meaning, and we have a glimpse into the hard life that often musicians lead. Songs like ‘Home’, ‘It’s Not Over’, ‘Waiting For Superman’, ‘Crawling Back to You’ and ‘September’ are some of my own favourites from the band, and all continue to assert my statement that Chris and co. have created a conduit of hope and restoration, of connection and compassion, of deliberation and daring moments of soul-searching and identity-building. Never have I felt such enthusiasm and emotion for a band within this blog series since OneRepublic and U2, and that in and of itself is saying a lot!
Does Daughtry make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Best Influential Artists of All Time’ list? Is there any song (other than ‘Home’ and ‘Waiting For Superman’) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!