Review : OneRepublic - Waking Up
LatimesblogsA muscular, Timbaland-shaped shadow loomed over the unlikely success of OneRepublic's debut album "Dreaming Out Loud." His inescapable remix of the band's single, "Apologize," vaulted the group to multi-platinum sales and took frontman Ryan Tedder into the upper ranks of songwriting pens-for-hire in pop for Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Beyoncé and many others.
Much of that record and Tedder's outside writing were a weak broth of dorm-room-canoodling ballads and R&B with very little rhythm or blues. Fortunately, on OneRepublic's second album "Waking Up," they've internalized a lot of the things that made Timbaland such a compelling producer -- that good sounds are paramount, songs should move in odd directions and many different ideas can constitute a hook....full text
SputnikmusicPop-rock is an often derided musical genre due to its safe and inoffensive nature leaving it susceptible to little-talent one-hit wonders looking for their 15 minutes of fame. There is no reason why artists looking to ply their trade within its confines cannot display a little imagination however. More than that, there could well be a market for it. Coloradan quintet OneRepublic hinted at such ambition on their debut LP ‘Dreaming Out Loud’. Two years later they look to build on that promise with follow-up release ‘Waking Up’.
Of course, their debut did have one thing going for it; producer Timbaland remixed their single ‘Apologize’ and turned it into a worldwide smash hit. There is nothing as grand here, although lead single ‘All The Right Moves’ is another catchy & polished piece which does a not too dissimilar job of bridging the gap between pop-rock and contemporary R&B. Once more, there are plenty of choices for subsequent singles: ‘Secrets’ follows the hit-making formula near-perfectly, while ‘Good Life’ has an up-tempo feel-good vibe that is difficult to dislike. The best of the rest though, may be the tongue-in-cheek ‘Everybody Loves Me’, where lead vocalist Ryan Tedder injects some welcome character through lines such as “Don’t need my health, got my name & got my wealth”.
So what of that aforementioned imagination? The intentions of Tedder & Co. on their debut were admirable, if a little misplaced. And the same can be said second time around as well. Positively, such ambition adds some much-needed variety. For the most part, this is not a boring album. However, this ambition is never quite fully capitalized upon, resulting in a lot of hit-and-miss ideas. Look no further than the multi-component ‘Missing Persons 1 & 2’ or strings-heavy’ Fear’ as examples of this....full text
SlantmagazineThree years ago, Ryan Tedder's OneRepublic didn't have a record deal, having been unceremoniously dumped by Columbia before they even got to cut their first album. But Tedder's luck changed halfway through 2007: First he penned and produced Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love," then, as though one inescapable hit weren't enough, OneRepublic's "Apologize" (with Timbaland) made its own phenomenal run up the Billboard charts. Since then Tedder has become a brand unto his own, tossing off hit singles for the likes of Hilary Duff, Natasha Bedingfield, and Beyoncé.
If you thought all that success went to Tedder's head, Waking Up wastes no time confirming those suspicions. It's either overreach born out of overconfidence, or else a desperate attempt to prove that he saved his biggest numbers for his own act, but either way, every track on this album is spit-polished and super-sized—radio-rock platitudes jacked up on an arena-rock budget. Take lead single "All the Right Moves," which isn't exactly master-class pop in its radio incarnation, but as it appears on Waking Up, it's nothing short of disastrous: Album opener "Made for You" turns out to be a glorified intro to the single, petering out into a schmaltzy string arrangement after two minutes of hookless melodrama. At that point, the drum track for "Moves" drops in and Tedder begins not-quite-singing-not-quite-rapping the chorus, with about zero sense of rhythm. Then, in what one might charitably interpret as homage to "You Can't Always Get What You Want," OneRepublic trots out a children's choir to sing the chorus in falsetto—all this before the song proper even officially starts. An organ intro and a programmed drumbeat later, Tedder's doing his best Justin Timberlake impression, and by the end, the whole band has joined in for a grating round of call-and-response.
With the big set piece out of the way so early on, one might hope that the band, having exorcized their stadium-scale ambitions, would show a little more restraint. No such luck. Take any track on the album, and you'll find a potentially decent song buried under tacky studio gimmicks and blustery arena-rock posturing. For "Secrets" and "All This Time," that means weepy string arrangements that don't so much augment the main melodies as run artlessly over them. On about half the tracks, OneRepublic repeats the gang-vocals shtick from "Moves," no doubt hoping that, with their voices combined, they can deliver the surging choruses that lie well outside of Tedder's limited range. Irritating as that trick becomes, it may be preferable to the alternative: On the title track, Tedder actually tries to nail a chorus right ought of the U2 songbook and the result is uncannily like hearing "With or Without You" at karaoke night. When not pinching from that band, OneRepublic sometimes tries to be Radiohead, which, as indicated by "Missing Person 1 & 2," means washing out all melodies, vocal and instrumental, in strange and annoying electronic effects. If these guys have taken anything from their admittedly ambitious choice of role models, it's only their sense of grandeur, none of their subtlety or songcraft....full text
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