It’s hard to believe it has been almost 10 years since OneRepublic released its first hit single, “Apologize.” With its next several albums, the band caught the attention of people worldwide for its catchy tunes and effective music. On Oct. 7, OneRepublic released its latest album, “Oh My My,” which consists of 16 tracks that are full of pop, rock and rhythm. The music offers thought-provoking lyrics and a complex use of instruments that immerse listeners in a wave of emotions: affection, infatuation and deep inspiration.
The band, which consists of Ryan Tedder (lead vocals/piano), Zach Filkins (guitar), Drew Brown (guitar), Eddie Fisher (drums) and Brent Kutzle (bass), formed in Colorado Springs in 2002. Since then, OneRepublic, which has often been compared to well-known bands including Coldplay and Maroon 5, has created uplifting, energetic pop-rock with countless hit songs.
One of the first songs on “Oh My My,” called “Future Looks Good,” features Tedder’s strong, engaging voice laid over the gentle strums of acoustic guitar and piano progressions. The track builds up with riveting spirit and passion, and every time I hear it, I’m hit with visions of breathtaking natural settings — an expedition through a forest, the journey up a mountain or the view of a peaceful night sky.
OneRepublic also manages to convey empowering messages in “Future Looks Good.” In the song, the singer describes a bizarre dream in which someone told him, “I swear you are the future, and the future looks good.” With the lyrics’ powerful imagery and message, listeners are overcome with a feeling of purpose.
Although all of the songs on “Oh My My” are enjoyable and impressively composed, “Better” is one of the standout tracks. I was caught off guard by Tedder’s style of singing, as he plays with words with a gentle swiftness. Soon, “Better” builds in intensity with the drums, bass, guitar and Tedder’s soulful, echoing voice. When I listen to this song, I develop a “who cares” kind of attitude, as I imagine throwing my homework in the air and walking away from everything. Thankfully, the encouraging lyrics such as, “Things are only getting better,” keep me grounded and sane for a little bit longer. “Better” turned out to be a phenomenal mood-lifter that reminds me to stop stressing and to enjoy life instead.
The 13th song on the album delves into a vibrant beat without hesitation, expressing the group’s experimentation with electronic sounds and dance music. “NbHD” features American indie-alternative singer Santigold, who skillfully delivers a soft, husky voice. The experimentation with synth at the beginning is reminiscent of the sounds of electronica band Phantogram. “A.I.,” another song on the album that demonstrates electronic influences, was written with the help of legendary English singer-songwriter and former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel. This song isn’t as dramatic as “NbHD,” and instead elicits a more soothing and sensual ambience with its seemingly circular and repetitive rhythms.
OneRepublic’s first single and the best known song on the record is “Wherever I Go.” This song has gained significant radio airtime since its release and has garnered almost 160 million plays on Spotify. In “Wherever I Go,” Tedder conveys his infatuation with a particular person, singing, “Wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you.” The intense cut with its energetic rhythms actually mimics becoming distracted by someone and hoping for their presence in every place. The most significant aspect of the song is when Tedder sings in falsetto, a signature move he flawlessly executes in the chorus.
OneRepublic is well known for its musical vivacity, but sometimes, this reputation can have its drawbacks; an album that consists solely of intense musical progressions can feel overdone. In the song “Choke,” which is incorporated about halfway through the album, the band’s attempt to be relational is overdone. The chorus was obnoxious, because it was overly dramatic about the topic of breakups. Although Tedder can usually pull off singing high notes, the falsetto on this track was awkward because Tedder was singing sounds rather than singing words.
Most of the songs OneRepublic writes, however, are brilliantly written, and you can tell the musicians regard their art as their passion. The group was increasingly experimental with its sound on “Oh My My,” and its electronica-influenced style is new but still enjoyable. OneRepublic’s music, filled with various emotions and constant energy, continues to astonish the band’s listeners.