It’s safe to say voters got it wrong when they left Chris Daughtry with a fourth-place finish on Season 5 of American Idol. After all, the North Carolina-born singer is one of the most popular contestants in the competition’s history. Boasting a debut album that’s gone sextuple platinum since its release in 2006, he trails only Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson in records sold. Key to Daughtry’s sustained success has been the singer’s capacity for not just tweaking but abandoning altogether the hard-rock sound with which he became synonymous during the television show. For every riff-powered tune like “What I Want” or “Outta My Head,” there’s a “Home” or “Waiting for Superman,” songs on which Daughtry and his band try on country-inspired balladry and synth-infused pop-rock, respectively. The importance of keeping his music fresh, and bucking fans’ expectations in the process, is something he learned fast. As early as his band’s second record, Leave This Town, another platinum seller, he had begun incorporating softer textures, including acoustic guitars, pristine harmonies, and orchestration. Of course, all this stylistic change is made possible by his versatile voice. On a tune like “Deep End,” a dreamy alt-rock ballad released in 2018, Daughtry offers up a clinic in richly melodic singing that is light-years removed from the raspy howl he unleashed back when he was an upstart trying to impress a panel of judges.