Dark Horses

Album: Vice Verses (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • The genesis of Alternative rock band Switchfoot's first single off their eighth studio album Vice Verses was a piece that frontman Jon Foreman wrote on The Huffington Post about Dark Horses and underdogs. After writing the essay, Foreman thought, "well, this is actually applicable to a lot of the kids that I meet on the streets of San Diego, the homeless kids, the kids that people are writing off, saying that it's hopeless and there's no chance. And yet there is a chance. There is." (Here's our interview with Jon Foreman.)
  • Writing for The Huffington Post was an interesting transition for Foreman. Speaking about how it relates to his songwriting, Foreman told us: "It's really hard to fit a complex idea into a 3-minute pop song. And when you're dealing with issues that you're passionate about, usually they have various levels. And within a poem, you can get around the issue of space, and in a song the same way, by simply leaving holes and alluding to what you're talking about. And there's all sorts of ways to do it. With an essay, you actually have to be a little bit more forthcoming and prove what you're trying to say. So to that end, the song can be a little bit more of the mystery and leave the whole thing open ended. But there's something really gratifying, as well, about saying exactly what you mean. And I've really enjoyed those essays for that reason."
  • The term "Dark Horse" is used to describe a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, frequently in a sporting context. It was first used in horse racing to describe a racehorse that is not known to gamblers and thus is difficult to place betting odds on. The earliest-known use of the phrase was in novelist and future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's 1831 novel The Young Duke: A Moral Tale Through Gay. He described a horse race where, "a dark horse, which had never been thought of… rushed past the grandstand in sweeping triumph."
  • Uses of the term "Dark Horse" in popular music include a 1974 single, album and tour by George Harrison named after the phrase. The former Beatle also named his record label Dark Horse Records. In addition, Canadian rockers Nickelback titled their 2008 album Dark Horse and the term served as the nickname of singer-songwriter Ryan Star after his appearance in the Rock Star: Supernova competition.

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