Review Summary: This is just what one would expect from Chris Daughtry, a generic rock album. Nothing more.
Countless stars come out of American Idol and all find a huge audience and meet incredible success. Chris Daughtry is a bit of an oddity out of them. While most pop stars from American Idol possess the sweet, radio-friendly voice that swoons anyone of any age, Daughtry belonged on CBS’s Rock Star interpretation of American Idol. He has the perfect rock star voice- crystal clear quality, a slight dirty rasp, and a powerful intensity that maxes out any PA system. Due to his perfect rock star image, everyone predicted Daughtry to be the clear cut winner of American Idol. However, the fans eliminated Daughtry and he walked off sure he had a career in music ahead of him. Now he appears with his debut album and it comes across like he already made his bones. Daughtry’s self-titled debut finds an egotistical Daughtry knowing exactly how to make the most money possible, and being the lead singer of dormant band Fuel wasn’t it. He went to RCA Records, put together a mediocre backing band, and wrote songs that featured his crystal clear voice. During his required time off between American Idol and his debut, Chris collaborated with some of rock’s most stereotypical frontmen, including Chad Kroeger of Nickelback and Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. It seems as if Daughtry wanted to make the most generic album possible.
And that he did. From everything to the music, the album cover, the song titles, and the lyrics, everything fits the typical rock stereotype. Chris claims Daughtry to be a “band,” but the album cover shows only him. Either way, Chris’ backing band seems like he went onto the street and picked the first musicians he could find and put them in the studio. It doesn’t matter; Daughtry rarely gives them a chance to play on their own. Daughtry sings for just about every second of this entire album. For that reason, there isn’t much to be said musically about Daughtry’s debut. Every single song plays at the same annoying middle ground tempo and sits in the same generic drop-D minor key. They play the expected quiet verse and heavy chorus with a bridge that builds to a heavier recapitulation of the chorus. Amazingly, they do step a bit out of that structure a few times. Breakdown
is the band’s attempt at a song that builds throughout. It fails miserably. The production puts the quiet sections and the loud sections at the same exact volume and no riff is original enough to create any sort of interest.
It’s Not Over
, the band’s single, is simply the first track on the album. Any song on the album could be the single; they all appeared to be written for that purpose. However, It’s Not Over possesses every rock song cliché possible. It starts sounding like 3 Doors Down, with their typical clean guitar opening. The chorus is catchy enough with the harmonized anthem of the title. Daughtry gives a technically perfect performance on the song as he does on every song. However, he seems so uninspired and bored. He probably is. The lyrics can’t possibly be any inspiration, not a single line in the song is original. The chorus reads like this:
It's not over,
Try to do it right this time around
It's not over
But a part of me is dead and in the ground.
This love is killing me
But you’re the only one
It's not over.
What I Want
looks like a good song in comparison to the rest of the album. It features Slash, which could possibly mean a good long break from Daughtry. Slash receives a fifteen second solo, which in itself is a wankfest. However, the song is one of the most rocking on the album even though it is just as generic as the rest. Easily the most rocking and best song on the album comes on There and Back Again
. It features a two note bass riff that, while incredibly simple, is pretty catchy. The song picks up the tempo a bit from the rest of the album. Daughtry sings as if he’s singing to the band, with a scream of “Shine; here’s your moment to shine.” The album ends on a variation with What About Now
, featuring piano and attempting to be a bittersweet ballad. The piano even strikes a major chord! While it is a variation on the typical sound, it still sounds just as generic as the rest of the album. It ends the album on a happy note and it feels somewhat out of place with the rest of the album. But it does end the album with a good representation of the album. Daughtry sings “What about now?” as the guitars fade out on their last note, simply leaving Daughtry to hold his note solo.
Maybe I’m expecting too much out of Daughtry. Chris did go on American Idol to become the next big pop star, after all. He’s only doing what he wanted to; gain a huge fan base out of simple pop songs. But he did absolutely nothing original on this album. Sure, he has a great voice. It’s clear and understandable, possessing a great quiet dynamic with an even better explosiveness. That is all he has going for him. The lyrics, the music, the image, and everything else about him and his band have all been done before him. However, even his powerful voice tires since he uses it for the entire album, giving Slash a small solo and a few quick instrumental sections. The pure generic style and lack of variation makes me give this album a 2. There is nothing about this album that peaks my interest for the length of an entire song. Nevertheless, Daughtry will find some success out of this album as long as Nickelback continues to make tons of hits.