Chris Daughtry competed on “American Idol” in 2006, finishing fourth. Since then, he and his band (known collectively as Daughtry) have had abundant success, though the group’s fourth studio album still has an “Idol” air about it.
Which is to say, it’s a hack job.
“Baptized” is hitched to blatantly dumbed-down hooks and pandering lyrics delivered with relentless histrionic clichés. It’s the rock version of the travesty that is modern, formulaic country music.
Which is to say, the audience for it could be massive.
And the truth is, a blast of bombastic rock might be just the thing to fill the airplay gap between overprocessed songs by Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. “Baptized” has a few worthy cuts that could hit the spot, including the mainstream-friendly title-track anthem, where Daughtry wails, “It’s safe to say I’m lost without you in my arms.”
Also, the rowdy stomper “Witness” and electrified romper “Traitor” are testosterone rushes that power past the platitudes through the force of pure adrenaline. And even if “High Above the Ground” is adrift in banality, the melody is addictive.
“Baptized’s” manipulation takes time to sink in, its menacing mundaneness slowly but surely getting brain cells in a stranglehold and choking off the oxygen. Luckier listeners eventually will realize that what at first blush seems refreshingly accessible is actually an artless concoction, perhaps cynically created in an assembly-line sound lab where anonymous arrangements are standard and the aural equivalent of unflavored gummy worms serve as bait for the hooks.
Those who don’t limit their exposure to “Baptized” will be in over their heads in songs about the upside and downside of relationships – from unconditional love to frustrated discord. Daughtry also indulges in the lonely girl profile (the beyond-trite “Waiting for Superman”) and wince-worthy nostalgia, including “Wild Heart’s,” “You were beautiful in blue jeans, holes in the knees … You were smokin’ like a cigarette, I couldn’t breathe.” Plus he glorifies 1980s rock (“Long Live Rock & Roll”) with the dubious invitation, “Throw your lighters up, and darlin’ sing with me tonight.”
Then there’s that final paint-by-numbers trip down memory lane, “18 Years,” where Daughtry recounts a small-town, go-nowhere romance from his youth: “We were kids on the run on a dead-end street.”
Doesn’t sound like much has changed.
Rating: 2 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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