Mosley Music Group / Interscope, 2009
REVIEW BY: Melanie Love
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/01/2011
There’s something so comfortable about pop music, though I don’t mean pop in the vein of The Beatles or even Lady Gaga. I’m talking about catchy, cheesy pop singles that might not have a lot of substance, but they sure stick in your head. It’s like the Snuggie of music -- you feel a little silly for buying it, but it’s just so darn enjoyable! OneRepublic conjures up that sort of feeling for me, at least when it comes to their singles.
Fronted by Ryan Tedder, who has penned hit singles for everyone from Leona Lewis (“Bleeding Love”) to Beyonce (“Halo”) to recent chart-stomper Adele, it’s hard to think that OneRepublic could go wrong. Tedder has a keen pop sensibility, crafting songs with soaring hooks that wear their hearts on their sleeves. And he and his bandmates have hit it out of the park on more than one occasion; just check out their Top 10 single “Apologize” from their debut album, 2007’s Dreaming Out Loud. But as it turns out, a lot of the material here suffers from the same fate as their first disc did: it’s mediocre. You can tell the group is trying, but song after song just sounds phoned in and over-the-top, decked out with strings and half-baked hooks that don’t capture any of the heart that OneRepublic is capable of.
Of course, that doesn’t apply to the singles, which are sparkly and endearing and endlessly listenable. There’s nothing with as big of a chorus as the Timbaland-assisted “Apologize,” but I’ve got a soft spot for “All The Right Moves,” and though “Secrets” has some silly lyrics, it’s sweet and buoyant: “This time / Don’t need another perfect line / Don’t care if critics ever jump in line / I’m gonna give all my secrets away.” Meanwhile, fourth single “Good Life” is an airy track perfect for summer, accented with swaths of synths and mellow drumbeats that mimic handclaps. “Marchin’ On” is another song tailor-made for radio, but as it turns out, OneRepublic plus Timbaland is an even better combo – check out his take on the song on his Shock Value II album, which tricks out their version by speeding up the beat.
Four out of eleven songs being decent to great is a pretty disappointing ratio, though, and most of the rest of the material here definitely isn’t radio-worthy. Opener “Made For You” features a creepy children’s chorus and seems solely designed to lead into “All The Right Moves,” the title track meanders for six minutes, and “Lullaby” is a sleepy closer. The only other track of note is “Everybody Loves Me,” reminiscent of Maroon 5 in its snappy ‘tude and pumped up energy – I could definitely see this playing over and over in your head, one of those inescapable songs that forces you to love it.
Having not really expected genius out of this album, it’s not too much of a disappointment. You get a handful of enjoyable songs, another heaping handful of junk, and the sense that this is what you’re probably going to get on future releases from OneRepublic. Listening to Waking Up makes you come away with sort of a “blah” feeling, but the remedy to that is just playing “All The Right Moves” and forgetting your troubles.