The Beautiful Letdown

The Beautiful Letdown
Studio album by Switchfoot
Released February 25, 2003 (2003-02-25)
  • Sage and Sound
  • Mansfield Lodge
  • Jon Foreman's House
Genre Alternative rock, post-grunge, hard rock, Christian rock
Length 44:18
Label Columbia/Sony BMG
Switchfoot chronology
Learning to Breathe
The Beautiful Letdown
Switchfoot: Live – EP
Singles from The Beautiful Letdown
  1. "Meant to Live"
    Released: July 28, 2003
  2. "More Than Fine"
    Released: 2003
  3. "Gone"
    Released: 2003
  4. "Dare You to Move"
    Released: March 2, 2004
  5. "This Is Your Life"
    Released: September 21, 2004
  6. "On Fire"
    Released: 2004
Professional ratings
Review scores
Jesus Freak Hideout[2]
Cross Rhythms[4]
Robert Christgau[5]

The Beautiful Letdown is the fourth studio album by alternative rock band Switchfoot. Released on February 25, 2003,[6] 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[7] 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.[8] It was ranked #195 on Billboard's 200 Albums of the Decade.[9][10]


Recording and history

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."[11] They finished recording in two weeks,[12] 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."[11] It was finally released February 25, 2003 as The Beautiful Letdown.

Music and lyrics

"Dare You to Move" sample
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."[11] 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."[13] "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.[14]

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."[13] "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.[14]

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.[11] 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.


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.[11] 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.


The release of their fourth studio album was met with resounding success, selling over 2.6 million copies and becoming certified double platinum.[15] 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.[16]

Track list

All tracks written by Jon Foreman, except where noted. More than half of the songs from the album were released as singles (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 9).

Album release
1."Meant to Live"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman3:20
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 Foreman3:45
9."On Fire"  Jon Foreman, Daniel Victor4:39
10."Adding to the Noise"  Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman2:50
11."Twenty-Four"   4:52

2004 CD/DVD release

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

In 2005, the album was released, 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."


Additional musicians[17]

Recorded at Sage and Sound, Mansfield Lodge, and Jon Foreman's house.

Mixed at Larrabee North 3.

Additional personnel[17]
  • John Fieldsproduction, recording, mixing, additional production and remix (track 5)
  • Switchfoot – production, additional production and remix (track 5)
  • Charlie Peacock – production (track 5)
  • Chris Lord-Alge – mixing (track 1)
  • Tom Lord-Alge – mixing (tracks 2 and 5)
  • Jack Joseph Puig – mixing (tracks 3, 7 and 9)
  • Tim Divine – A&R
  • Erin Familia – assistant
  • Ted Reiger – assistant
  • Dorian Crozier – computers
  • Mike Buzbee – computers
  • Aaron Redfield – drum tech
  • Jon Leshay – management
  • Mark Guynn – touring
  • Aaron Pinkus – touring
  • Mary Maurer – art direction
  • Matthew Welch – photography
  • Kevo Sassouni – design

Charts and certifications

Year Chart Position
2005 Australian Albums Chart[18] 45
2004 U.S. Billboard 200 16
2004 Top Internet Albums 16
2004 Top Christian Albums 1

End of decade charts

Chart (2000–2009) Position
U.S. Billboard 200 195

Certifications and sales

Country Certification Sales/shipments
United States 2x Platinum 2,700,000+
Canada Gold[19] 50,000

In TV and film

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


  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". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  6. Loftus, Johnny. "The Beautiful Letdown – Switchfoot". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  7. "Switchfoot, Omarion, and Matisyahu return to store shelves with new albums". Monsters and Critics. 2006-12-27. Archived from the original on January 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
  8. "San Diago Music Awards". September 18, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
  9. "Switchfoot on Billboard Decades Best Lists". 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  10. "Hot 200 Albums of the Decade". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 27, 2010.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Interview: Switchfoot – Published March 2, 2003 (Retrieved January 21, 2009)
  12. "Switchfoot Biography". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  13. 1 2 Letdown Sound Stories – Published February 2003 (Retrieved January 21, 2009)
  14. 1 2 Kirk Miller, Rolling Stone – published October 16, 2003 (retrieved July 8, 2012)
  15. Switchfoot, Omarion, and Matisyahu return to store shelves with new albums – published December 27, 2006 (retrieved July 9, 2012)
  16. – Jen Waters, The Washington Times published October 20, 2003 (retrieved July 8, 2012)
  17. 1 2 Information from album booklet.
  18. Steffen Hung. "Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown". Retrieved 2012-01-15.
  19. CRIA Gold & Platinum certifications for February 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2007.
  20. "Switchfoot - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  21. "Switchfoot - Meant to Live - HD". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-06.

Music videos

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