Music

Traitor? Hater? Or Bold New Sound? Chris Daughtry’s ‘Baptized’

Sure I played drums in a high school rock band, and though I had some ability, I wasn’t a big time talent like Chris Daughtry. And yet I find myself relating to his experience with his new album, Baptized. I’ll explain:

baptized

Last year I launched my newest science fiction adventure novel, Crossline. To date the reviews have been mostly excellent.

Mostly.

A few months ago, while doing promotion, one reader absolutely ripped me to pieces — I mean scorched me — saying that I had betrayed him, that I stole his money, having deceived him into buying such a terrible book, and that I should be ashamed of myself as an author for writing such drivel.

Why was he so angry? Why did he feel swindled? Crossline full cover.psd

Because the novel I delivered wasn’t the novel he was expecting. For those of you new to my work, my first novel Finders Keepers is a raunchy, science fiction backpacking comedy — think American Pie/Superbad meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s an all-out comedy that even drew some interest from Hollywood. This reader was drawn to my catalog based on Finders Keepers.

But while Crossline is filled with humorous moments — it might even make you laugh out loud in places; I hope it does — unlike Finders Keepers, it’s a science fiction adventure set, at least in part, during a civil war. And though the novel is absolutely loads of fun — with a host of female characters who are forces to be reckoned with, and are in many ways the true heroes of the story — during war, bad things happen, and sometimes to characters you like, or even love.

Which brings me back to Baptized.

Daughtry’s first three albums are rock albums. They kick ass, to different degrees. So … like many of his fans, when Baptized came out with a bold new sound, I was … shocked. I admit it. I didn’t quite know what I was listening to.

But as I had been through this experience myself, with my own work, and trusted that Chris would once again deliver the goods, I listened to the album, a song at a time, and then the entire playlist, over and over.

What’s my verdict now that I’ve gotten over my initial expectations, that I’ve accepted what Daughtry actually gave us, rather than what I thought I would get?

Thumbs up. cd boys

Chris and the boys have delivered a fun, radio-friendly pop album that shares some karmic DNA with Rhianna, Katy Perry, Fun! and others, with a mostly angst-less set list. I think this review here is pretty close to my own views, so I’ll pass it along for a more thorough song by song analysis.

With that, for me a few standouts on Baptized include the catchy, destined-to-be-a-hit “I’ll Fight”, about always being there for your kids (Chris I and both have young twins, so I relate), as well as “Cinderella”, a (mandolin?) based ditty with some snappy vocal hooks that could easily fit into Jack Johnson’s play list. “Long Live Rock and Roll” is an acoustic, thumping ode, and jest, about the joys of rock n’ roll, while “The World We Knew” and “High Above the Ground” are joyful reminders to embrace your moments while you have them.

chrisD

I’ll also call attention to “Traitor”, the album’s one true rage against the machine. A sound I would have expected to come from Nine Inch Nails, it’s actually not quite in sync with the overall tenor of the album … but wow. I’ve rarely ever heard a song that conveys so much seething ire over feeling betrayed, combined with a ‘don’t f**k with me’ attitude. When Chris sings, “Are you sure you want to play this game?”, there’s a lilting in his voice like he’s just daring you to come at him. You know he means business.

And if I had one ‘wish’ for any song on the album? It’s that Chris and the boys go all out on “Undefeated”. It’s a good, rousing tune as is, about staying on your feet no matter what life throws at you. But I submit that if re-recorded in a concert hall and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and an equally sized choir, it would have the scope and gravitas — the soaring power — to become EPIC. chrisd2

So where does that leave me?

Baptized may not be the rocker Chris has typically delivered in the past — it wasn’t what I expected — but it’s a damn good entry in the Daughtry catalog. You can dance a little, groove a little, and, when the album really hits its stride, clap your hands and smile.

And as for the reader who initially tore into me because he felt betrayed? In time, I won him over, too.

🙂

 

10 Tunes I Can Always Hear

No matter how much I might enjoy a certain band or singer, an album or even just a single song, there’s only so many times I can hear it. Sooner or later, I just get listened out. I need a break.

And yet there are a handful of songs I never seem to get tired of hearing. Sure, any tune can get old … eventually … but below are ten songs, in no particular order, that I seem to listen to no matter what.

This not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start:

* Driving Blue Cars (acoustic version) — Dishwalla
* Two of Us — The Beatles
* Easy Money — Billy Joel
* Walking on Sunshine — Katrina and the Waves
* Hazy Shade of Winter — Bangles’ version
* Twilight Zone — Golden Earing
* Walk On — U2
* Losing My Mind — Daughtry
* Hey Hey What Can I Do? — Led Zeppelin
* Levon — Elton John

So now that I’ve shared my list … what’s on yours?

There and Back Again: The Evolution of a Chris Daughtry Fan

Be with me. Here’s the scene:

My apartment. Queens, NY. Saturday morning. The sun is shining. I go to the computer, and load up iTunes. I scroll for Chris Daughtry’s new album, Break the Spell. I click on the third song, Outta My Head. I turn up the volume. Loud.

The music blares:

Bahm! Bahm!
Baddah-daddah-daddah-daddah
Bahm! Bahm!

I turn toward the front of my apartment. My twins — who are 20 months old — are in their high chairs waiting for me to feed them breakfast. Waffles and strawberries. Their backs are to me. And we hear:

I thought it would be easy, but it ain’t for me
It’s kinda hard, when you lay your heart on a one-way street

My son, then my daughter. First one hand, then the other.

I really thought by NOW!
You would’ve slipped my mind
But the kind of love sent from above is the killing kind …

My kids are fist pumping. They are head banging. And all because Chris Daughtry is bringin’ it.

Rock is in the air. Life is good.

The Idol Maker

Okay. Now it’s confession time. I wasn’t always a Chris Daughtry fan.

In fact, I dismissed his music.

When Chris first came on the scene back in 2006, all I knew was that “the rocker dude” from American Idol got voted off, and apparently it was unfair. I never saw the show, and had zero interest in learning more.

Yet my sister Alison said — repeatedly, ad nauseam — that Chris was the man.

Whatever.

Fast forward a few years and two albums later. At this point the only Daughtry songs I know are from the radio: What About Now, Feels Like Tonight and Life After You. These songs aren’t bad, but let’s face it. They’re not really directed at me.

To my classic rock-loving ear, Daughtry was very … Meh.

And though my sister insisted — avalanche-style — that Chris was awesome, I rejected her assessment. Here’s a typical exchange:

Alison: Dude. Listen to his voice.

Me: Don’t care.

Alison: He’s great.

Me: Nah.

Alison: Just give him a chance!

Me: I’ve heard the songs. They’re all the same to me. Snore.

Alison: Grrrrr …. Dude. You. Are. WRONG!


What I Meant to Say

Whether I was truly convinced that there was more to Daughtry than I gave him credit for — or I simply wilted beneath my sister’s onslaught — I finally listened to Chris’ first two albums, Daughtry and Leave This Town. I focused on certain tracks. No Surprise. Supernatural. Ghost of Me. Crashed. Every Time You Turn Around.

And eventually I admitted … okay, this is better than I thought.

But you know what really got me? That ass-kicking vocal hook in What I Meant to Say:

And I just thought … that you should know
That I’ve been holding on while you’ve been letting GO!

Now I’m starting to feel it. And I think: whoa, this guy’s voice is BOOMIN’. There are some great hooks. But I couldn’t understand why the more rockin’ tunes didn’t get more radio play.

Then it clicked for me. Chris was facing a marketing obstacle I hadn’t initially appreciated. The record label was putting out the songs they thought would sell. Fair enough. But in doing so they didn’t necessarily showcase who Chris really is.

They pumped out more of his softer-side tunes, keeping his potent, overdrive mojo a secret from rock n’ roll fans like me. I didn’t get Chris Daughtry at first because I didn’t know to look for him. As far as I knew, that guy didn’t even exist.

But he does. Trust me. He does.


Let’s Break the Spell

Having finally been converted, I was then educated that Daughtry isn’t just Chris with a backing band. Together, all the musicians — who co-write many of the songs and form the sound — make up Daughtry. This isn’t just a one-man show.

So by this point I’m diggin’ a bunch of Daughtry tunes … yet I still found the first two albums to be fairly similar. And despite the band’s talent, to me the overall quality of the song-writing just hadn’t caught up with that Hall of Fame voice.

Which then led me to ask: Will this band grow? Will the songwriting become richer and more intricate — textured with subtly and nuance? Will the guys trust themselves enough to layer more technical sophistication to their musical instincts and let their sound evolve as it naturally wants to? Or will Daughtry essentially release a third version of the same album?

Translation: Guys, I like you pretty okay, but I want to hear more. You can do better. You. Can do. Better.

And guess what? They did. Big time.

Break the Spell is — by a large margin – Daughtry’s most developed, confident and satisfying album. No dis on the first two records, but with BTS the boys took a significant, creative leap. 

Just hold on tight to the Rebel Yell-style bad-boy opener, Renegade.

Or listen to Chris’ falsetto rising in Losing My Mind.

Get completely absorbed by the surging, devil-eyed chorus of the BTS title track:

The way you pull me in,
The way you chew me up,
The way you spit me out,
I KEEP COMING BACK! I CAN’T GET ENOUGH!
I CAN’T GO WITHOUT!

And the album’s most deliciously confessional lyric, from Losing My Mind:

You’re one part angel, one part danger
But, oh, the kind of crazy I like …

Oh, yeah. It’s go time. Daughtry is no longer just a solid, radio-friendly band with a killer voice at its core. They have begun their ascent as a musical force. They will stand the test of time.

Off on a Spaceship

Back in my apartment. My kids in high chairs. I’m feeding them breakfast. BTS is playing. Spaceship:

If somebody’s out there
S
how me that you care
Give me a sign that comes out of nowhere

My daughter smiles, with strawberries on her face. My son then looks at me, looks at his sister, and we hear:

Like a shooting star
We’ll maybe laugh for miles
Something inside tells me we can’t be too far

The fist pump returns.

Rock is in the air. Daughtry.

And life is good.

 

You Could Be Reading...

Crossline

Blog Archives

Goodreads

Russ Colchamiro's books on Goodreads
Finders KeepersFinders Keepers
reviews: 10
ratings: 303 (avg rating 4.00)