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OneRepublic make One awful choice to create a commercially successful pop album!
on 4 October 2013
OneRepublic's first album is still my favourite. Stop and stare was the song that made me buy the album and I had also heard the remix of Apologise and thought that was a great, moving pop song. It wasn't long before Ryan Tedder was 1 of my favourite singer/songwriters and OneRepublic one of my favourite bands. What attracted me to the band was genuine songwriting, honest and emotional lyrics and amazing music with real instruments, including a cello player, which was the main reason this band was so unique. For the second album Ryan said he chose to write music for entertainment instead of making all heart on his sleeve music; that it was okay to not write about his feelings. Although the music was a bit different it was not a drastic change and it didn't take long to grow on me and I see it as a brilliant album with incredible songs like Secrets and Good life. It still had a unique OneRepublic feel to it and still had great songwriting throughout. I have more appreciation for OneRepublic's early material now more than ever. That is because I have listened to this album. A good few bands I have liked have made music so far removed from what made me attracted to them in the first place and have had the same reaction from me. It just makes me look back and appreciate how amazing they were.
After 3 years since the last album Waking up was released the band released Native. Ryan says the main inspiration for this album was his fascination with humanity, our time and how we spend it. In the 'thankyous' all Brent says is 'thx :-)'. I feel like that is a reflection of about how much effort was put into this album. I don't know if Ryan was thinking this is a modern, futuristic sound and what people want nowadays but to me it seems like they had a discussion about how they only used actual instruments for most of the 1st two albums and decided to create most of this album on a PC and keyboards! A user commented on Waking up's review that if you don't appreciate the classical side of the band then you aren't appreciating them in their entirety and that is very true! All of that beautiful instrumentation is null and void here. A year before the album was released the band stated that they were "not rushing it", saying that the album "has to literally be the best thing we've ever done". When a band makes a pretentious statement like that you know it's not good. Angels and airwaves said the same thing about their last album and guess what it was far from their best! OneRepublic have sold out to meet the awful tastes of today's average chart listener.
When I listened to the album I thought Ryan's voice had altered but after listening to a song each from the 1st two albums I realised that it hadn't altered; he was using his voice in a different way. What is also making him sound differently is that they have auto-tuned the hell out of his voice so that he sounds like most other singers in the singles chart. Although the music is a far cry from their previous albums, lyrically most songs are still interesting. Tedder may have been instrumental in making an awful choice musically but this is the same man who has written some amazing songs in the past with great lyrics.
Counting stars has a very deceiving beginning with acoustic guitar but then that keyvboard/synth sound kicks off which reflects the sound of the rest of the album. When I 1st heard it I thought it would sound like traditional OneRepublic but then it turned into something bad. It's got a catchy sound and that's what's helped it reach number 1 in the singles charts and become their highest charting single - reinforcing my point about writing for success. The song is slightly reminiscent of a couple of Waking up songs in that it 's about fame. If I Lose myself is definitely the best song on the album but it's quite repetitive with the second verse identical to the first. The song is about Ryan's fear of flying but I initially interpreted it as a love song. Feel again is another single with a catchy, uplifting sound featuring handclaps in the verses. What you wanted has bouncy synthesizers with Ryan exclaiming he'll do anything "If that's what you wanted". I lived is the start of a downward spiral with Ryan irritatingly stating "I did it all...I swear I lived". It does actually have acoustic guitar;1 of the only times a proper instrument is present. Light it up is 1 of the worst with a droning sound and distorted vocals. Can't stop is a standout because it's so unique with a moody atmosphere and a haunting chorus - highlight. Au revoir has piano and strings but is quite boring. Burning bridges is 1 of the better tracks and Tedder's screech at the end of the chorus is memorable. Something I need is ok with Ryan's friends and family chanting the chorus. Preacher is a highlight with a great, uplifting chorus. Don't look down is a short and bland synthesizer track. Something's gotta give follows suit with bouncy synthesizers in the chorus, sounding like an 80's reject track. Life in colour is an improvement with chiming keyboards in the verses and a joyful chorus.
The 3 acoustic covers are easily twice as good as the originals and are definitely the best songs on the deluxe edition. They are well produced covers with electronic sounds like the originals but with an acoustic backdrop, which makes me wish they all sounded like this in the first place.
If you can overlook that this is OneRepublic then this is a listenable album and it's OK but I'm acutely disappointed by such a radical transformation.