After establishing themselves on the Christian Contemporary Music scene, Switchfoot broke through into the mainstream with the release of their multi-platinum selling fourth album, The Beautiful Letdown. Since then, they’ve refused to be tied down to any one genre, becoming as much of a hit with secular audiences as with Christian ones. Here, we look back at some of their finest moments with our pick of the 10 best Switchfoot songs of all time.
10. Learning to Breathe
After building a firm footing in the Christan rock community, Switchfoot hit the big time with 2000’s Learning to Breathe, which managed to shift over half a million copies and pick up a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album. Its title track is particularly glorious, with Jon Foreman’s raspy vocals perfectly complemented by the uplifting, spine-tingling melody and intelligent lyrics.
After enjoying ever-growing popularity with each new release, Switchfoot’s career went stratospheric with their fourth album, The Beautiful Letdown. Released in February 2003, the album cracked the top twenty on the Billboard 200, shot to the top of the Christian chart, and eventually certified double platinum. One of its highlights is the irresistibly catchy Gone, which, despite not being promoted as a mainstream radio single, still managed to hit the number 1 spot on Christian CHR radio.
Awakening, the second single from Switchfoot’s sixth studio album, Oh! Gravity, received almost zero support or promotion from the band’s then label, Columbia. The video was completely funded by the band, and they were forced to rely on a grassroots marketing campaign set up by their fans to get it in the public eye. But the strength of the song prevailed- released in March 2007, Awakening reached number 3 on the Christian CHR charts and the video has since become one of the “most linked to” videos of all time on Youtube. It also managed to pick up two nominations at the 39th GMA Dove Awards, the first for Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year and the second for Long Form Music Video of the Year.
7. The Shadow Proves the Sunshine
Of all their albums, Nothing Is Sound is perhaps the band’s darkest, with John Foreman revealing via the band’s official website that it would be best described as “a dark chapter revealing even more mysteries to be solved.” But while the themes certainly veer towards the dark, there’s a rich seam of hope that winds through the songs, particularly on the sublime The Shadow Proves the Sunshine. “I may write about how everything is meaningless, but it’s a very hopeful thing for me to be proven wrong,” Foreman says.
6. Your Love is a Song
Your Love is a Song came about after the recording process for Hello Hurricane shuddered to a stop. In an attempt to get the creative juices flowing, Jon Foreman called on hip hop producer Mike Elizondo to help “make sense of the mess (they’d) made”. Not only did he help with the mess, but he also helped Foreman write one of the album’s chief highlights. Released in March 2010, Your Love is a Song peaked at number 27 on the Adult Pop Songs chart and number 18 on the Christian Songs chart.
5. This Is Your Life
It was clear from the start that The Beautiful Letdown had designs on something larger than the Contemporary Christian Music market. Not only was it released through Columbia, rather than the Christian label Sparrow, but its well-crafted, melodic songs were almost tailor-made for the adult alternative scene. This Is Your Life is a perfect example. A subtle pop jam sprinkled with slick electronic treatments, it had hit written all over it. Released as the third single from the album, it cracked the top 40 on both the US Alternative Airplay and Adult Top 40 charts and reached the top 10 on the Christian charts.
4. Dark Horses
The band’s eighth studio album Vice Verses is a heavy, swampy affair with less guitar than normal and a bigger focus on drums and percussion. The stylistic change in direction landed the band a top ten hit on the Billboard 200, and with the sensational single Dark Horses, a number 13 hit on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
Named one of the best Switchfoot songs of all time by thetoptens.com, Stars became one of the band’s biggest hits on its release in July 2005, becoming the most-added song on Modern Rock Radio in its first week, cracking the Billboard Hot 100, and eventually certifying gold.
2. Meant to Live
If any song helped turn Switchfoot from a popular Christian rock band into one of the biggest acts of any genre, it was Meant to Live. A song inspired by T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” might not seem destined for the charts, but this one was, hitting number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100, number five on the Modern Rock chart and Adult Top 40 chart, and number six on U.S. Top 40 radio. It’s since certified gold.
1. Dare You to Move
Dare You to Move is the quintessential Switchfoot song… or, a John Forman calls it, their “defining song.” “It’s me talking to myself and I think a lot of times I feel stagnant and stuck in the same place, and ‘Dare You to Move’ is kind of a song for myself to get me up and get me moving and tackling a new part of life,” he’s said. He’s not the only one to think so. Of all their songs, Dare You to Move ranks as the most enduringly popular, and one of their most requested at live shows. Released in February 2004, it charted in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and in the top 10 of the Alternative Airplay, Mainstream Top 40, Top 40 Tracks, and Adult Top 40 charts.