The Beautiful Letdown

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The Beautiful Letdown
Studio album by Switchfoot
Released February 25, 2003
Recorded Sage and Sound
Mansfield Lodge
Jon's House
Genre Alternative rock, post-grunge, hard rock
Length 44:18
Label Columbia/Red Ink
Producer John Fields, Charlie Peacock, Switchfoot
Switchfoot chronology
Learning to Breathe
(2000)
The Beautiful Letdown
(2003)
Switchfoot: Live – EP
(2004)
Singles from The Beautiful Letdown
  1. "Meant to Live"
    Released: 2003
  2. "Dare You to Move"
    Released: 2004
  3. "This Is Your Life"
    Released: 2004
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Jesus Freak Hideout 4.5/5 stars[2]
IGN 9/10 stars[3]
Cross Rhythms 10/10 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[5]

The Beautiful Letdown is the fourth studio album by alternative rock band Switchfoot. Released on February 25, 2003, it launched the band into the mainstream on the strength of two top 20 singles: "Meant to Live" and "Dare You to Move." The album was hugely popular and remained a staple on the Billboard 200 album charts for a considerable amount of time. The album sold over 2.7 million copies in the US[6] and was eventually certified double platinum by the RIAA.

The album won an Album of the Year award at the 2003 San Diego Music Awards.[7] It was ranked #195 on Billboard's Hot 200 Albums of the Decade.[8][9]

Production[edit]

Recording and history[edit]

In 2002, the band entered the studio to begin recording of the follow-up to their 2000 record, Learning to Breathe. They were unsigned at the time, their contract with re:think Records/Sparrow having expired with the completion of Learning to Breathe. Bassist Tim Foreman has said that "this was the most freedom we had ever felt while tracking an album – no record labels, no distractions, just four guys making the record we'd always wanted to make."[10] They finished recording in two weeks,[11] but shortly afterwards, were signed to the major record label Columbia Records/Red Ink. This ultimately delayed the release, as the label submitted the album for further mixing and marketing. "Sony is a big battleship of a company," said lead singer Jon Foreman. "It takes a long time to turn it around. It's like parallel parking a Buick."[10] It was finally released February 25, 2003 as The Beautiful Letdown.

Music and lyrics[edit]

A sample of "Dare You to Move", the second single released

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The album featured some of the band's most intricate work to date, and featured a departure from the lo-fi indie rock sound of their previous three albums. This shift to a more layered, heavier rock sound with occasional electronica influences can be attributed to the addition of long-time touring member Jerome Fontamillas as a full-time band member. Contributing more to the recording process by filling in with his added instrumental versatility prompted Foreman to note, "I feel like Jerome is a great team player. I mean the same thing where live he just kind of fills in, is the same thing on the album. He's just a wonderful guy to have around."[10] The sound was also influenced by the fact that "these were songs that we'd played live countless times, songs that we'd lived with."[12] "This was also the most prepared we'd ever been for a record," bassist Tim Foreman has commented. The album brings together an eclectic sound as it gathers inspiration from the previous ten years of contemporary rock. The song “This Is Your Life” features a more subtle pop jam while the up-beat, light-hearted “Gone” brings the album to an entirely different place musically, exemplifying the band's musical versatility.[13]

Lyrically, the songs on the album speak of hope in spite of an imperfect world. "The Beautiful Letdown is about real life: the good, the bad, and the ugly," said Jon Foreman. "It's an honest attempt to reflect on the great and terrible aspects of being human, the tension of existence."[12] "Meant to Live" expresses this in the lyric, "We were meant to live for so much more/have we lost ourselves?/We want more than this world's got to offer/We want more than the wars of our fathers." While the band's Christian beliefs are clearly communicated through the album’s message, bassist Tim Foreman notes that “We’re Christian by faith, not by genre.” Inspired by their role model U2, the band seeks to merge the appeal of rock with deep and spiritual thoughts.[13]

The first few promotional copies of the album were printed with the song "Monday Comes Around" on it. When the wide release version went to print Foreman removed the song as he felt it didn't match the tone of the album.[10] The song can now be found on the 2004 re-release of "The Beautiful Letdown" on the accompanying DVD, on the b-side of the Meant to Live vinyl single released, in copies of the Japan release of Nothing Is Sound, and in the 2007 iTunes Deluxe re-release of The Beautiful Letdown.

Artwork[edit]

The guitar that appears on the album cover at the bottom of the pool is actually a guitar that Foreman bought at a pawn shop in North Dakota. The original intention was "to light it on fire, but the place wouldn't let us light things on fire, so we were going to break it in half." But after playing it a few times, Foreman became too attached to it, thus leaving it intact at the bottom of the pool. The photo used on the cover was taken at a "sketchy hotel" in North Los Angeles.[10] Several variations of the cover exist. The original 2003 pressings of the record featured black lettering on the artwork, while the 2004 re-issues featured larger white letters and/or a sticker with the title font superimposed onto an image of a drum set.

Reception[edit]

The release of their fourth studio album was met with resounding success, selling over 2.6 million copies and becoming certified double platinum.[14] Despite the overwhelming success of the now mainstream Christian band, some criticized The Beautiful Letdown claiming that it lacked originality and saying that it was too similar to other alternative Christian rock such as Jars of Clay and Creed.[15]

Tracklist[edit]

All songs written and composed by Jon Foreman, except where noted. 

Album release
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Meant to Live"   Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:20
2. "This Is Your Life"     4:18
3. "More Than Fine"     4:14
4. "Ammunition"     3:45
5. "Dare You to Move"     4:09
6. "Redemption"     3:06
7. "The Beautiful Letdown"     5:21
8. "Gone"   Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 3:45
9. "On Fire"   Jon Foreman, Daniel Victor 4:39
10. "Adding to the Noise"   Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman 2:50
11. "Twenty-Four"     4:52

2004 CD/DVD release[edit]

In 2004, "The Beautiful Letdown" was re-released in two different forms: A standard CD-only reissue featuring a slightly tweaked audio mix, as well as new artwork, and a CD/DVD package.

The CD/DVD edition featured a DVD that included a few bonus-features, including the entire album in 5.1 Surround Sound.

It also featured a Making of "Dare You to Move" video, as well as Version 1 of the music video itself, an acoustic impromptu performance of “On Fire,” and two previously unreleased bonus tracks, “Monday Comes Around” and “Meant to Live (Live).” For some reason, these bonus tracks were inexplicably included only on the DVD, and not on the audio side.

2005 Dual Disc release[edit]

In 2005, the album was released yet again, this time as a DualDisc. The audio side remained the same as the 2004 re-issue, and the DVD side featured all of the same features, but also included the second version music video of "Dare You to Move."

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

In TV and film[edit]

Many of Switchfoot's songs have been used in various TV shows and movies.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Garris, Blake (2003-02-17). "Switchfoot, "The Beautiful Letdown" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  3. ^ Lord, Jesse (2004-04-06). "The Beautiful Letdown - IGN". IGN. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  4. ^ Cummings, Tony (2003-05-01). "Review: The Beautiful Letdown - Switchfoot". Cross Rhythms. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Robert Christgau review". Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  6. ^ "Switchfoot, Omarion, and Matisyahu return to store shelves with new albums". Monsters and Critics. 2006-12-27. Retrieved 2007-01-08. [dead link]
  7. ^ "San Diago Music Awards". September 18, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  8. ^ "Switchfoot on Billboard Decades Best Lists". wereawakening.blogspot.com. 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  9. ^ "Hot 200 Albums of the Decade". Billboard. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b c d e Interview: Switchfoot – Published March 2, 2003 (Retrieved January 21, 2009)
  11. ^ "Switchfoot Biography". Bandbiographies.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  12. ^ a b Letdown Sound Stories – Published February 2003 (Retrieved January 21, 2009)
  13. ^ a b [1] Kirk Miller, Rolling Stone – published October 16, 2003 (retrieved July 8, 2012)
  14. ^ Switchfoot, Omarion, and Matisyahu return to store shelves with new albums – published December 27, 2006 (retrieved July 9, 2012)
  15. ^ [2] – Jen Waters, The Washington Times published October 20, 2003 (retrieved July 8, 2012)
  16. ^ a b Information from album booklet.
  17. ^ Steffen Hung. "Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown". swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  18. ^ CRIA Gold & Platinum certifications for February 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2007.
  19. ^ "Switchfoot - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  20. ^ "Switchfoot - Meant to Live - HD". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 

External links[edit]

Music videos[edit]