There's hardly ever a bad time to study television's
impact on some aspect of contemporary pop culture, but its impact on rock,
especially hard rock, these days is particularly compelling. Back in the day,
grunge was a badge of the disaffected. But now bands such as the one fronted by
Chris Daughtry avidly embrace all the choreographed moves of a TV show. Poses
aren't merely struck; they're held as if for an archetypal camera shot. Shirts
that came off to defy easily marketed sex appeal are now doffed to reveal
personal trainer-designed torsos.
Not that this is surprising in Daughtry's case; without "American Idol" he
might still be singing in bars and small clubs in the Greensboro, N.C., area.
Instead, riding a high tide of moves and sounds derivative of generic hard rock
bands such as Live and Fuel, he shot into the upper reaches of last year's
competition. He turned down an offer from Fuel to be their lead singer and
released his own disc, "Daughtry" (RCA), which is far, far outpacing the work
In fact, the disc is outpacing all others; it's currently the No. 1 CD in
the country and it has been in the top 10 for all but one week since its
Chris Daughtry has mastered the strong, sensitive look.
He has big shoulders and a bald head; if he pounded the bar and got off his
stool, most people would take note and get out of his way. Yet he sings of
heartbreak and yearning with passion and conviction.
Daughtry kept his shirt on at Irving Plaza Monday night but did his best to
bare his soul during a set that checked in at just less than an hour. The band
opened with a moody instrumental that brought to mind a revival of trip-hop
atmospherics before settling down to business and playing "Crashed" from the
record. Daughtry's fans haven't just heard the single, "It's Not Over," they've
memorized the lyrics to many of the tracks on the album, so Daughtry turned
the middle parts of the show into impromptu sing-a-longs.
He slowed the tempo down for a cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man" and a new
song, co-written with Rob Thomas. Both were done in a duet setting with just
Daughtry on guitar and his drummer on tom-toms. Then, with a sense that was
more mechanical than dramatic, the show picked up and the band plowed though
their hit single, and their next single, "Home" before thanking the audience.
After a brief pause, the band returned and Daughtry revved the crowd for a
raucous version of Pearl Jam's "Break."
DAUGHTRY. A good case study for television's impact on rock but not much else.
Monday night at Irving Plaza, Manhattan. Cinder Road and Eve to Adam opened.