Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daughtry rocks

I made a good on a promise Tuesday. It wasn't a big promise, but it was.

Last winter Red and I were watching the early stages of the annual "American Idol" competition when I sat up and took notice of a young man who was helping his lady raise her two kids. She wept with gratitude about how the man was willingly giving up his dream of doing something with his music, in order to take care of her and her children in a more "practical" way.

It was a sweet story of sacrifice, typical of the heart-tugging tales that make the show so appealing - until he began to sing. Nothing typical about that voice, a powerful rock and roll voice dripping with passion.

"That guy's going to win," I said to Red. "And I can't wait to buy his album." This was the beginning of the competition, where they cull out the best 200 or 300 or however many it is who are "going to Hollywood, baby." But from the moment I heard that story and heard him sing, I expected Chris Daughtry to win.

Every week the guy was head and shoulders the best performer on the show - not the flashiest or the prettiest, just the one who left everything he had on stage, just the one who kept me coming back to watch and to listen. From the buzz around the show, I wasn't alone. Even the judges started saying they couldn't wait to buy his album.

Daughtry is the best rock voice I've heard in five (!) years of on-and-off viewing of "Idol." Maybe that's what happened - they're looking for a pop music icon, not a rocker.

When he was eliminated four spots from the end, Red and I looked at each other in shock. In hindsight, it probably was a blessing. Judging from past entries by "Idol" winners, I can't imagine winner Taylor Hicks being able to turn in an album as free-wheeling and passionate as "Daughtry," the album that came out Tuesday. The "Idol" machine just likes its idols to be more polished and predictable than this.

Turns out Daughtry's a pretty good writer, too - his name is in the credits on 10 of the 12 songs. First impression: Not disappointed. Very tasty, hard-driving, passionate rock, just what you'd think he'd deliver with his new band. In his acknowledgements he thanks his wife, Deanna, for her support, and tells her and the kids how much he loves them.

He also begins by saying, "I'd like to thank God for the gift of music and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for being the greatest example of love I know." Huh. Now that I didn't expect, but I guess I'm not surprised. He never preached a word, except in the way he loved his family.

Yeah. I bought his album the day it came out. Had to. Needed to. I promised.

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