Gavin DeGraw describes himself as a singer-songwriter but he says it with a sour expression. That's because these days that term evokes a sensitive pretty-boy image, while DeGraw's ideal would have a bit more gravel and gravity, along the lines of Kris Kristofferson.
"That's exactly how I view it," said the 31-year-old artist, whose self-titled sophomore album debuted this week at No. 7 on the national sales chart after selling more than 66,00 copies in its first week of release. "Right now there are a lot of young men who are singer-songwriters who have this image that is a little softer than I like. I'm more comfortable with men who act like men and make music that reflects that."
The rock-inflected "Gavin DeGraw" gives the singer his first trip to the Top 10, and his path has, like so many music stars today, been paved by television more than radio. The South Fallsburg, N.Y., native first cut through when his song "I Don't Want to Be" was selected as the theme song to "One Tree Hill," and his songs have popped up repeatedly on "American Idol."
"The era of a Wolfman Jack picking up a song and making someone's career by bringing it to a radio audience, that's just not happening anymore," DeGraw said. "Now you have to find different routes to your audience, and television and the Internet are the ones that seem to be working."
That approach is working for veterans as well: Neil Diamond, boosted by his recent visit to "American Idol," saw his latest album, "Home Before Dark," sell 146,000 copies to claim the No. 1 spot on the chart -- the first time the 67-year-old star has reached that top slot on the tally.
Also debuting this week: Toby Keith's double-disc "35 Biggest Hits" at No. 2 (103,000 copies sold) and Clay Aiken's "On My Way Here" at No. 4 (94,000). Josh Groban, Dierks Bentley and Luis Miguel also debuted this week with new albums, taking positions 8 through 10 on the chart.