If you look up the phrase dark horse in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, here's the first definition you'll find: "A usually little known contender (such as a racehorse) that makes an unexpectedly good showing, or an entrant in a contest that is judged unlikely to succeed." In the spirit of that definition, the lead single from Switchfoot's eighth studio album, Vice Verses, is a straight-up anthem for the underdogs of the world—no more, no less.
Frontman Jon Foreman understands that life has no shortage of knocks, sometimes hard ones. "I've made my mistakes," he sings in the opening verse. "I've seen my heart cave in/I've got my scars/I've been to hell and back again."
Whereas many alt-rock bands might use that jumping off point to justify dwelling in the angsty darkness, Switchfoot, in contrast, immediately, um, switches things up with what comes next. Namely, the recognition that the sun will eventually shrug off the darkness: "Born for the blue skies/We'll survive the rain/Born for the sunrise/We'll survive the pain."
More of that kind of determined optimism shines through the song's fiercely anthemic chorus, as Foreman and Co. vow, "Hey, you can't count us out/ … Wait, it's not over now/We've been down, but we've never been out/Yeah, we are the dark horses."
In an interview with Adrian Hummel (at adrianhummel.com) in late June, Foreman talked about his inspiration for that message. "For me the true underdogs are the people who didn't chose their situation, but are rising above it. For me that song the 'Dark Horses' is all about the homeless kids back in San Diego, specifically the ones who are being helped out by [the nonprofit organization] StandUp For Kids. It's always nice when you have a song you are passionate about singing night after night that has a deeper meaning than simply another verse and another chorus."
And it's also nice that sometimes deep doesn't have to mean complicated. We can all easily relate to and we can all benefit from "Dark Horses."
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Debuted at No. 32 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.
Atlantic,lowercase people records
August 2, 2011