I was first introduced to Switchfoot 15 years or so ago by some of the students I managed in the fund-raising call center at a university. They gave me a “mixed” CD and it wasn’t long before I attended a concert and found them remarkably astute and an excellent live band.
Though I did not discover them when they sort of rocketed to fame in 2002 thanks to the movie A Walk to Remember, “Learning to Breath” and their smash single “Dare You To Move” were pretty hard to ignore both of which were featured in the movie. Unfortunately, that pretty much spelled the height of mainstream success for Switchfoot despite a now wide catalogue of music that wholly defines them as more than just those two radio staples.
Regardless, Switchfoot found success with a Christian audience and though they do not consider themselves a “Christian” band, singer Jon Foreman, bass guitarist Tim Foreman, drummer Chad Butler, keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas and guitarist Drew Shirley don’t shy away from their beliefs. (One of my more memorable concert moments comes thanks to Jon Foreman who, after a show in Portland led a small group of fans downtown, sat down with acoustic guitar in hand and sang gospel music, praise songs and some Switchfoot songs. Wow!)
At any rate, as Switchfoot progressed musically their live shows got even better and they routinely released albums full of solid material. Earlier this year, Switchfoot unveiled Native Tongue, their 11th studio album, after a small break from writing and recording and followed that with the best live show I have seen from them. They deserve far more accolades than they get but I’m guessing they don’t really care. Their live show rivals if not exceeds any of today’s “mainstream” acts and they continue to break new ground.
Switchfoot music sometimes tears your heart out, head bangs you into the ground and occasionally they combine both their hard rock roots along with emotional melodies that keep you coming back for more. So let’s find out the Top 10 Best Switchfoot songs and remember this can always change.
- Stars – Nothing Is Sound
Stars is hard rock at its finest and feels like a breakout or break away from their mainstream hit “Dare You To Move” from a few years earlier. Great guitars throughout and that opening riff sets the pace.
- You – The Legend of Chin
“You” comes off their debut album The Legend Of Chin from 1997 and if any song on this album indicated the band’s future success, just listen. “You” probably gets overlooked by a lot of fans who found the band in later years, but this weepy and melodic song has Switchfoot in one of their finest elements. Thought provoking lyrics and music that keeps you transfixed, “You” deserves a rotating spot on the band’s live setlist.
- Float – Where The Light Shines Through
When I first heard “Float” I was a bit floored just because I knew Switchfoot was trying new things and taking a different approach to their song writing. In many respects, Where the Light Shines Through marks a change in direction for the band with “Float” leading the way. And, if you don’t tap your foot while listening then turn it up louder!
- Hello Hurricane – Hello Hurricane
The title track to 2009’s Hello Hurricane combines everything Switchfoot does well. An emotional pull, driving melody and rocking guitars. Jon Foreman shines here on vocals and the time signature changes rock this song from the start to finish.
- Dark Horses – Vice Verses
Heavy and even a bit dark (no pun intended!), I remember the first time I heard “Dark Horses.” Of course it was live and I couldn’t believe this was Switchfoot. In fact, if I recall correctly, I may have originally thought it was a cover, but no way. “Dark Horses” is all Switchfoot. Drew Shirley says what he needs to on guitar as to why he was a solid pick-up for the band in 2005.
- I Won’t Let You Go – Where The Light Shines Through
When I reviewed Where the Light Shines Through I wrote “I Won’t Let You Go” was the song missing from Coldplay’s last two albums. This is one of Switchfoot’s finest songs and I have no doubt has helped many get through the most trying of times. I dare you to listen and not get a bit emotional.
- Say It Like You Mean It – Fading West
When Fading West first came out I wasn’t overly impressed then I saw them on the ensuing tour. That all changed. Switchfoot knows how to bring their songs alive on stage and in some ways helps translate the album version at home. Perhaps a backhanded compliment but I have found much love for Switchfoot songs after hearing them live, this one included. I dig the Chad Butler’s drums.
- Afterlife – Vice Verses
Put way any notion you might have that Switchfoot is simply a pop act. “Afterlife” opens Vice Verses with hardened guitar but it’s not just Shirley’s touch of grunge that makes this song rule, Jerome Fontamillas adds an element of keyboards that gives this songs some serious legs.
- Your Love is a Song – Hello Hurricane
“Your Love is a Song” beat out “The Sound” off the same album simply for Jon Foreman’s heart-aching vocals. Clearly I’m a sap for these types of songs but seriously when the band pulls back and lets Foreman sing just listen. Criminally underrated. What does the world know?
- We Are One Tonight – Nothing Is Sound
Once again, Foreman does a great job bringing this song home vocally. A classic pop song, Switchfoot does a great job incorporating various musical elements into “We Are One Tonight” as they set up the chorus with a great crescendo in the pre-chorus than dial it back in the verse part of the song.
Nope, “Dare You to Move’ didn’t make the list. I told you Switchfoot has more and a whole lot more. Like any band with a radio hit, Switchfoot always plays that song live and they have to. Probably half the fans in attendance at any given concert got their start on that dare. But I can’t leave you without a little bit of sound because I really wanted it on this list.