Written and media by Jake Cannon.
Over the years, many bands have tried to create an authentic, lyric driven sound that remains catchy and radio worthy. OneRepublic seems to fit that niche incredibly well. Coming off the hot success of their last album release Waking Up, OneRepublic, slowly but surely, has created a name for themselves. Not to mention frontman Ryan Tedder has written songs for the likes of Adele to Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson to Beyonce, Daughtry to Big Time Rush, Jordin Sparks to Carrie Underwood, and Clay Aiken to Backstreet Boys. To say that his career has been prolific would be an understatement.
This might explain why the band’s third album entitled Native sounds like a blend of fun., mixed with Imagine Dragons, coupled with Muse-esque anthems, and surging dance beats from Swedish House Mafia, with a side of Coldplay for dessert. Delicious.
Right now some of you are thinking I didn’t like the album. Not so. I genuinely enjoyed Native as a whole, yet select songs stood out to me more than others (which is expected from any album). Native wails of love lost, gained, endured and broken. Just what every radio pop band needs. Scrumptious.
Native begins with “Counting Stars,” a song of hope in big dreams: “Lately, I’ve been losing sleep/Dreaming about the things that we could be/But, baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard/Said no more counting dollars/We’ll be counting stars.” It’s incredibly catchy, driven at first by an acoustic guitar and followed by a figurative bass drop with synths. Native doesn’t stray too far from this upbeat path with “What You Wanted,” “Light It Up,” and “Feel Again,” which all talk about feeling good through a relationship and doing everything to keep it alive.
On that note (pun intended), there are several songs that relay a poignant message such as “Au Revoir,” “Something I Need,” and “Preacher.” “Preacher” pays homage to a grandfather who was, as you guessed, a preacher: “When I was a kid/My grandfather was a preacher/He’d talk about God/Yeah, he was something like a teacher/…He was a million miles from a million dollars/But you could never spend his wealth.”
Some standout songs to me were “Counting Stars” and “I Lived.” “I Lived” feels a follow up to OneRepublic’s hit single “Good Life” in which the Tedder sings, “I owned every second this world could give/I saw so many places/And things that I did/Yeah, with every broken bone/I swear I lived.”
After three albums, OneRepublic has developed a unique sound. Native is an impressive album musically and lyrically, yet the album as a whole fails to define itself above the rest of the same-old-same-old radio pop. Regardless, there are a few moments that really, really impressed me. Like I said, “Counting Stars” and “I Lived” are some of my favorites, but “If I Lose Myself” stands above the rest. Tedder explains the song best in an interview with MTV:
Even though [“If I Lose Myself”] sounds like this euphoric, ‘let’s go crazy tonight’ song, it’s a bit morbid; it’s about going down in an airplane. Waking up on an airplane and finding out you’re going down, having that moment of sheer panic, looking out the window, seeing your life pass before you, [but] looking over to your right and seeing the person you love sitting next to you, and realizing ‘It could be worse … the next 90 seconds are going to be pretty thrilling, and this person is with me, so I’m OK.’
In the end, Native tells us that life is difficult. Even though there is pain, you should live life to the fullest. Tedder said in an interview with AsianWhites.com: “This is one of the albums that I really try to hit people in the gut with and connect with humanity. It’s not just about having a good time, but I think these songs have lyrics that people are going to hear and hopefully resonate like nothing else.”