Plumbiferous Media

Waking Up - OneRepublic

Dec 6th 2009
No Comments
Waking Up - OneRepublicOneRepublic
Waking Up
Score: 11

OneRe­pub­lic (yes, with­out the space) has been active since 2002, but only pro­duced its first album in 2007. Since then, it has released numer­ous sin­gles, and most recent­ly, its sopho­more album. Wak­ing Up is best described as a mix of indie, some rock, and a healthy por­tion of pop. But while the three gen­res are eas­i­ly among the sim­plest to com­bine, some­thing clear­ly went awry with Wak­ing Up.

Wak­ing Up starts weak­ly, and quick­ly begins to wors­en from that point. The open­ing track, “Made for You,” com­bines what could have been an inter­est­ing drum rhythm paired with decent­ly orig­i­nal chords, but the choice of piano for the main instru­men­tal voice was sim­ply a mis­take. The piano fits nei­ther with the vocals nor the drums, and each addi­tion­al instru­ment that enters fits no bet­ter. In fact, the instru­men­tals don’t quite fit togeth­er on the sec­ond track either, with an organ play­ing along­side an extreme­ly heavy drum beat (anoth­er char­ac­ter­is­tic of the album), nor the third, or real­ly, any of the tracks.

But it is the lat­er tracks such as “Good Life” that real­ly make the lis­ten­er won­der how such odd instru­men­ta­tions and musi­cal deci­sions can sound so utter­ly gener­ic and bor­ing. The answer, of course, is that near­ly all the tracks of Wak­ing Up effec­tive­ly use ran­dom instru­ments that don’t real­ly fit togeth­er play­ing gen­er­al­ly unin­ter­est­ing har­monies over an extreme­ly loud drum line to a gener­ic pop­py melody. And sure, the tracks are rel­a­tive­ly diverse, but that’s not par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult when instru­ments are cho­sen seem­ing­ly at random.

There is noth­ing harsh, sharp, or even vague­ly inter­est­ing about Ryan Ted­der’s vocals. Instead, they’ve been processed and pro­duced to be as palat­able as human­ly pos­si­ble. They’re left com­plete­ly sou­less - at sev­er­al points on Wak­ing Up, it is com­plete­ly believ­able that a com­put­er could have tak­en over for Ted­der with no effect what­so­ev­er on the vocals. Occa­sion­al bits of vocal flair - the short qua­si-rap seg­ment on “Secrets,” var­i­ous shrieks, and attempts at some sort of stunt­ed cre­ativ­i­ty - fall flat. By the end of the album (or rather the end of the first track), Ted­der’s vocals have become tedious sim­ply by existing.

Wak­ing Up is admit­ted­ly not the sort of music that’s meant to stand up to any sort of deep lis­ten­ing. Nev­er­the­less, when the lyrics of an album are alter­nate­ly so gener­ic and so irri­tat­ing that they stand out in spite of being unim­por­tant to the music, it is by no means a good thing. Wak­ing Up falls sound­ly into this cat­e­go­ry. Between inces­sant rep­e­ti­tion (“Every­body loves me!” “This is gonna be a good life!”) and most­ly use­less cho­rus­es, Ted­der finds time to sing the tru­ly awful parts of the album, includ­ing the inane­ly arro­gant “And every­day I see the news / All the prob­lems that we could solve them / When a sit­u­a­tion ris­es just write it into an album” from “Secrets.” But Ted­der’s favorite pas­time on Wak­ing Up seems to be talk­ing about him­self. The obvi­ous exam­ple is, of course, “Every­body Loves Me,” but the major­i­ty of the album is speck­led with Ted­der’s attempts at musi­cal self-aggran­dize­ment. It, need­less to say, does not come off well.

In the end, Wak­ing Up seems to be lit­tle more than an elab­o­rate mas­sag­ing of Ryan Ted­der’s ego. It’s not cre­ative musi­cal­ly, lyri­cal­ly, or in any oth­er notable man­ner. It does­n’t stand out among pop or rock music, and worse, it does­n’t even stand out against itself. There are very few notable moments on Wak­ing Up, and what moments exist are gen­er­al­ly notable for being worse than their imme­di­ate sur­round­ings. Wak­ing Up only has mer­it (bare­ly) as the sort of music that floats by unno­ticed on a soft-rock radio sta­tion - but more than a minute or two, and you’ll want to change the track in favor of some­thing with a bit more substance.

This post is tagged ,

Leave a Reply