Some bands impact your life. And other bands change your life. Switchfoot is one of those bands that has wholly altered mine.
Switchfoot’s songs have helped me through challenging seasons of anxiety, comforting me through the darkness of panic attacks. Not only that, but my move to San Diego, California, and my decision to attend Point Loma Nazarene University was inspired by Switchfoot’s lead singer, Jon Foreman. (I wrote about the story at length on Instagram.) So, to say this band means a lot to me is a vast understatement.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Switchfoot. Whenever the band performs in their hometown of San Diego or my hometown of Las Vegas, I’m there, typically in the front row, singing every word to every song. I have an undying love for this band, and it’s proven every time I travel a couple hundred miles for one of their shows.
Beyond just having great music, the guys in Switchfoot are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Currently comprised of lead singer Jon Foreman, his brother Tim, Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas, and Boaz Roberts, the genuineness of these five bandmates is reflected both on and off stage. Every time I interact with them, whether after a performance or a conversation, I’m amazed by their kindness towards all of their fans.
While I’ve only been going to Switchfoot shows for a few years, the band’s history dates back to 1997. The group has been making music for quite some time, resulting in an impressive discography. In honor of the 20th anniversary of The Beautiful Letdown and the impending release of The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) [Deluxe Edition], I look at eight essential Switchfoot songs every fan should have on their playlist.
Originally released on their record New Way to Be Human, Switchfoot debuted “Only Hope” in 1999. Although pop artist Mandy Moore recorded a cover of the song in 2002 for the film A Walk to Remember, “Only Hope” was originally recorded by the rock and roll band Switchfoot and penned by Jon Foreman. Despite popular belief, the song’s origins point not to Mandy Moore but to the band who first recorded it.
Movie fans will most likely always associate “Only Hope” with Mandy Moore, but I must say I prefer the original (because, yes, I’m biased toward my favorite band). With Jon’s vocals, the string selection, and the evocative lyrics, the song is beautifully brought to life in a way that captures my attention every time I listen.
“So I lay my head back down/And I lift my hands and pray/To be only yours/I pray to be only yours/I know now you’re my only hope.”
“Dare You to Move”
I’ve seen Switchfoot perform at various venues, from college campuses to sandy beaches. But I must admit: the strangest venue I’ve seen them at was right in my hometown. Because the band was performing on the 1st Street Stage in downtown Las Vegas, an exciting mix of people was in attendance. From acrobats to street performers, there was no shortage of Vegas flare in the crowd. Since the show was free and (literally) beside a public sidewalk, many weren’t Switchfoot fans. But once the band played “Dare You to Move,” the crowd ignited and sang along with every word.
Music has a way of uniting people. Many audience members were probably unfamiliar with Switchfoot, but they knew “Dare You to Move.” That proves the legacy of this band. While not everyone will remember them, the lyrics and melodies will surpass time. And now, the “Dare You to Move” legacy is living on through well-known singer/songwriter Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
As part of The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) [Deluxe Edition], Ryan Tedder rerecorded Switchfoot’s hit song, putting his own spin on it. I grew up listening to “Dare You to Move,” as many others have. It brings me so much joy knowing that its legacy will continue long into the future, with Ryan Tedder presenting the song to a new generation.
Aside from Tedder, other artists are breathing new life into Switchfoot’s music, rerecording songs from their hit record The Beautiful Letdown. Owl City, Jonas Brothers, Colony House, and more are bringing their unique voices to this rerecorded album.
“I dare you to move/I dare you to move/I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor/I dare you to move/I dare you to move/Like today never happened/Today never happened before.”
The song “Awakening,” particularly, holds me the most nostalgia. I still remember sitting in the backseat of our old family minivan, driving through town, and listening to the song. Recently, “Awakening” has taken on a new meaning as I’ve begun to resonate with the stirring lyrics. Besides having impactful lyrics, the song’s opening rock riff always boosts my adrenaline. I can’t help but smile when I listen to it, and I hope it gives you the same sense of nostalgia and joy.
“Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines/With my dead beat sky, but this town doesn’t look the same tonight/These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere/And in all my life I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so alive, alive/Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain/We’re awakening.”
“Where I Belong”
The crowning moment of every Switchfoot show is when Jon Foreman raises a banner with the words “Where I Belong” boldly written. I’ve seen this happen at every Switchfoot concert I’ve been to, sometimes with my own homemade banner raised in the sky. The moment is always emotional, as fans sing about longing for “a world where [they] belong.” The poignant lyrics always make me think beyond: to the world where, one day, everything will be made right. To the new heaven and earth, Jesus promises us, as stated in Revelation 21.
As we await the world where we’ll find home, I hold on to these lyrics with expectancy. No matter how dark this present world may get, I have the assurance that my citizenship is somewhere far greater.
“Until I die, I’ll sing these songs/On the shores of Babylon/Still looking for a home/In a world where I belong.”
“Love Alone is Worth the Fight”
As San Diego natives, Switchfoot’s songs carry an inevitable West Coast vibe. When traveling the Golden Coast, I often have their song “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” blasting through our car’s speakers. There’s a sense of adventure in the words and melody, along with their iconic West Coast sound. Every time I listen, I can’t help but think about San Diego, the city that I love so much. The lyrics have always given me anticipation, especially now as I get ready to move there.
The song’s message is straightforward: love alone is worth fighting for. Nothing can stop the force of love–it’s what we were made for, and it’s what we all must strive for. There’s so much inspiration in the lyrics, and I daresay it’s become a Switchfoot classic.
“And we find what we’re made of/Through the open door/Is it fear you’re afraid of?/What are you waiting for?/Love alone is worth the fight.”
“I Won’t Let You Go”
One song that holds a special place in my heart is “I Won’t Let You Go.” During a difficult season of panic attacks in 2021, I listened to this song nearly every day–sometimes in the middle of the night if anxiety kept me awake. As soon as I hear the first note, I feel the song blanketing me in peace. I’ve always perceived the lyrics as being sung from God’s point of view. Like my Heavenly Father is whispering, “If you could only let go your doubts/If you could just believe in me now/I swear, that I won’t let you go.” Nothing has been more comforting than knowing my Maker holds me close, even through restless, sleepless nights.
I don’t face panic attacks as often as I did in 2021. But there are days when anxiety looms in the background, so I still return to this song because I need the reminder of Jesus’ closeness. Words and melodies have the power to combat darkness and the potential to calm anxious thoughts at three in the morning. I’m forever grateful for how Switchfoot has impacted my life through songs like these.
“When your fear is currency/And you feel that urgency/You want peace, but there’s war in your head/Maybe that’s where life is born/When our façades are torn/Pain gives birth to the promise ahead.”
Although the song came out only four years ago, “Joy Invincible” has become a classic in its own right. The song was picked up by mainstream and Christian radio stations, leading to a collaboration with worship artist Jenn Johnson. Her beautiful voice complimented Jon’s well, resulting in a stunning collaboration.
Ironically, I first heard “Joy Invincible” during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. During a time of so much fear, the lyrics sang about a circumstance-defying joy. It gave me a boost of courage and still does today. If you’re facing your own challenges, I encourage you to listen to “Joy Invincible.” It may give you the strength you need for your journey ahead.
“Hallelujah nevertheless, was the song the pain couldn’t destroy/Hallelujah nevertheless, You’re my joy invincible/Joy invincible, joy.”
“Beloved,” the newest song on this list, debuted in 2021. As the opening track for the album Interrobang, it paves the way for the entire record. I was stunned by the simplicity and beauty of the song upon my first listen, and I still get that same awe-struck feeling even now. While it would be easy to write a song about how the world needs to change, it instead looks inward: “Every day begins to feel the same, like I’m waiting on the wind to go and change/But there’s no one but myself around to blame lately.”
Every lyric is thought-provoking, desiring me to live my life with intentionality. Truthfully, that’s what every Switchfoot song does to me. Something about their music constantly pushes me to look inward, to the dreams in my heart, the life I should be living, and the people I should be loving more. I hope their music does the same for you.
Whether you’re a long-time fan or have never heard of Switchfoot, I hope you find a song that connects with you and brings you closer to Jesus. At its core, all their music reflects our Maker and His heart for unity.
“If only I could open up my eyes/Would the truth be what would set me free?/If only I could open up my eyes/Would I see that maybe I need you/Like you need me?“
Grace Chaves is NRT’s News Editor and one of our youngest writers. She’s been part of NewReleaseToday since 2019 and is continuing her journey by majoring in Writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.