#1 – Switchfoot

Over the years, I’ve internalized several criteria for what makes a band “good” in my own opinion.  They’re probably not that much different from anyone else’s, but it’s interesting how similar criteria can yield such a wide range of results.

Looking at the rest of the list, it might not seem to follow any kind of logical order, in the sense that you could predict who my #1 group might be by looking at the other nine.  Some of you might just think I’m crazy anyway, and that’s okay.

At any rate, my #1 contemporary band is Switchfoot.  Even though they basically sound like most other pop/rock bands out there, I can’t get enough of them.  Their musicianship is superior in just the right ways, even if the sound is pretty much the same.  Their timing is fantastic, and the instrumental arrangement works perfectly for them.  Tim Foreman’s bass lines add a lot of depth to their otherwise light songs, and Chad Butler’s percussion work is spot-on.  Part of me wonders if they’re not interested in showing off their musical talent as much as other bands, as a way of possibly reaching a wider audience for their music, but I don’t really have any proof of that.

Jon Foreman’s vocals are not always the strongest, but his unique voice packs in an emotion that somehow appeals to me.  What differentiates him from other songwriters, though, is his penchant for uncovering important issues while almost perfectly handling the paradox of being “too Christian for mainstream radio” or alienating Christian fans.  Foreman’s writing has helped make Switchfoot a perfect example of Roaring Lambs in modern rock, and the band’s somewhat progressive ideology within that role happens to be very similar to my own.

In other words, Switchfoot does a fantastic job of saying all the the things I think about, but they do it much better, doing it in the form of songs that reach a wide audience, and they show the same musical  creativity that I like to see in my favorite “secular” bands.

All of this probably explains (at least a little bit) about why I like Switchfoot so much, yet I don’t listen to a whole lot of other Christian bands.  There’s nothing wrong with a Christian artist aiming music at Christians, but I earn a whole new level of respect for them when they can pull it off in the mainstream.  The other main reason is that I didn’t grow up listening to popular Christian music, so I was never really exposed to Third Day, Jars of Clay, and others.  I could do a lot better when it comes to listening to more Christian music, but I don’t have the patience to listen through hours of the average Christian radio station’s lackluster rotation to unearth other similar bands, though I suppose I’m open for suggestions.

So, to sum it up, Switchfoot has great vocal hooks, solid instrumental support, and a timely and powerful message that somehow manages to articulate my thoughts in the form of a catchy song.  I’ll take that over any other band, any day.

Here are my top 25 Switchfoot songs:

  1. Meant To Live
  2. Stars
  3. Dare You To Move
  4. Gone
  5. Happy Is A Yuppie Word
  6. Politicitans
  7. Lonely Nation
  8. This Is Your Life
  9. Oh! Gravity
  10. More Than Fine
  11. Ammunition
  12. The Beautiful Letdown
  13. Company Car
  14. Awakening
  15. American Dream
  16. Only Hope
  17. Dirty Second Hands
  18. Adding To The Noise
  19. Easier Than Love
  20. Chem 6A
  21. 4:12
  22. The Loser
  23. New Way To Be Human
  24. Sooner Or Later
  25. Circles

I just changed this list around before putting it up here, and it’s probably always going to be changing, but there you go.  “Meant to Live” keeps with the general theme of keeping the song that introduced me to the band at #1.  I realize that they released three albums before that song hit the radio, but I had no idea, so that song single-handedly got me interested in music with a message.  If songs have hands, that is.

Now, I guess I need ideas for future series of posts, but I’ll work that out as the basketball season comes to a close.  In the meantime, root on the Bisons tonight and hope they don’t look past a surging Mulerider squad.

(Now that Doug brought up that “Wonder Boys” thing, I have a hard time not laughing when I type one of the crazy GSC team names.  That last sentence sounds more like it’s going to be a tough night at some rural Arkansas ranch, rather than the preview of a college basketball game.)

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