Sound: Daughtry, which is the stylized name of Chris Daughtry's "band," has been around since 2006. He was eliminated from the finals on American Idol and his debut album released in November of the same year. Since then he has received a HUGE amount of success, which goes to prove that to be successful you just need a marketable image and convince RCA Records to hire some decent musicians and songwriters to support you. Despite my strong feelings about Daughtry, I will try to provide as un-biased an opinion as I can manage.
"Baptized" is Daughtry's fourth studio album released, with the two singles released from the album being "Waiting for Superman" and "Long Live Rock & Roll." They were released in September and October 2013. The album contains 12 tracks and clocks in at just under 45 minutes. Daughtry has boasted that the new album contains folk influences as well as an overall "poppier" sound. The album contains several guest artists and guest songwriters, such as Martin Johnson (of Boys Like Girls), Sam Hollander, Blair Daly, Espionage, Rock Mafia, Ali Tamposi, the Monsters and the Strangerz, Scott Stevens, Kara DioGuardi, Jake Sinclair, Claude Kelly, Johnny Black, and Matthew Thiessen.
I'm not sure if I can pull off a very in-depth track by track review, so I will go through the album, but I will keep it pretty brief. The album opens up with the track "Baptized," which includes a banjo and I would describe it as a culmination of country, electro and pop. "Waiting for Superman," the lead single from the album, officially marks the "pop rock" quota being filled with songs about Superman. The track has been described online as electropop or electropop-influenced ... yep.
"Battleships" sounds like something you might expect on a boy band album. "I'll Fight" is really similar to a lot of songs on alternative and indie radio stations lately, with an acoustic guitar and some type of synth work going on, too. "Wild Heart" reminds me a little bit of Michael Jackson. For such an awesome song title, I felt like the actual song was a letdown. "Long Live Rock & Roll" is a nostalgic romp through rock music history. "The World We Knew" actually has some interesting guitar work in it, and that was the strongest thing going on with this track. "High Above the Ground" is a song about love across social classes. "Broken Arrows" is a piano-driven melancholy ballad. "Witness" is another "boy band" track. "Traitor" gives me the Michael Jackson vibes pretty much immediately, and these vibes pretty much last throughout the song. Even the same type of vocal melodies. "18 Years" is another song that is really very solidly in the realm of pop music.
At the end of the day I guess this isn't a bad album for a pop album, but the assertion by Daughtry that he is a "rock" musician is very off-putting for me. I couldn't get behind most of this album. // 6
Lyrics: So, this is really where Daughtry's actual skill comes in is his vocal performances, as the entire band is built around his vocal skill and his image. While there is definitely some vocal processing going on, and some vocal "fixes" a la auto-tune, you gotta give Daughtry credit - he has a good set of pipes. The album gives him the opportunity to display what he's got in a fairly wide range of songs, allowing him to provide different styles of vocal delivery, etc. As a sample of the lyrics, here is a nostalgic trip about rock music in general from the track "Long Live Rock & Roll:" "Well I was born the year that disco died/ and U2 was in high school/ thank the lord that they survived/ got my first taste on a Seger 45/ since that kiss I've rocked all day and partied every night/ we still argue about who's better/ Elton John or Billy Joel/ We still wonder if Kurt really wrote the songs she sang in Hole/ you know we'll never stop believing/ it is the journey of our lives/ so why don't you help me pour some sugar on these memories tonight." // 7
Overall Impression: So, I can't help but think that this album sounds like an episode on Glee that heavily features the character, Puck. Come to think about it, Chris Daughtry actually looks a good deal like the character Puck – and really their images are pretty similar, except Daughtry's sensitive side is emphasized a little bit more. I just can't get behind Daughtry and the more I try the more hostile I feel towards him, but I've desperately tried to give a fair review of this album. There is a vital difference in my mind, however, between pop music and pop music that is trying disguise itself as "rock" music. It is the disguise that pop music wears so that soccer moms can feel like they have a "rock 'n' roll" edge, or they're cool or hip or something. In reality it puts Daughtry in no-man's land where they're having a hard time being pop or rock very well, but instead just a 45 minute soundtrack to mediocrity. // 6
- Brandon East (c) 2013