|The Beautiful Letdown|
|Studio album by Switchfoot|
|Released||February 25, 2003|
|Recorded||2002 at Sage and Sound; Mansfield Lodge; Jon's House|
|Label||Columbia/Red Ink/Sony BMG|
|Producer||John Fields, Switchfoot|
|Singles from The Beautiful Letdown|
The Beautiful Letdown is the fourth studio album by alternative rock band Switchfoot. Released in early 2003, it launched the band into the mainstream limelight on the strength of two top 20 singles: "Meant to Live" (top 20) and "Dare You to Move" (top 20). "This Is Your Life" was also released to mainstream radio, while "More Than Fine" and "Gone" received airplay at CCM radio. The album was hugely popular and remained a staple on the Billboard 200 album charts for a considerable amount of time, and was eventually certified double platinum by the RIAA for selling over 2.6 million copies in the US alone. It also netted an Album of the Year award at the 2003 San Diego Music Awards.
In 2002, the band entered the studio to begin recording of the follow-up to their 2000 gold 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."  They finished recording in two weeks, 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."  It was finally released February 25, 2003 as The Beautiful Letdown.
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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."  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."  "This was also the most prepared we'd ever been for a record," bassist Tim Foreman has commented.
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."  "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."
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.  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.  An alternate cover exists with the wording being black instead of white.
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.
In 2005, the album was released yet again, 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."
A deluxe edition of the album was released by Sony on December 25, 2007 exclusively on iTunes. It contained all the tracks on the previous releases, but included these three bonus tracks, available for purchase for the first time:
|2004||U.S. Billboard 200||#16|
|2004||Top Internet Albums||#16|
|2004||Top Christian Albums||#1|
|United States||Double Platinum||2,600,000|
Many of Switchfoot's songs have been used in various TV shows and movies. The WB's Smallville used This is Your Life and the 2007 film The Ultimate Gift incorporated On Fire into one of its scenes. Dare You To Move was also featured in an episode of One Tree Hill and the A Walk To Remember soundtrack