Waking Up and Going Big
3 Out Of 5 Stars
For their second album, OneRepublic mastermind Ryan Tedder must have
woken up and decided if a lot of production was terrific, than
over-production would be fabulous. As a songwriter to the stars (he
counts Adele and Beyonce for resume points), he certainly knows his way
around songwriting and hooks. But for a writer with so many soul and
R'n'B artists on his Rolodex, when it comes to his own material, Tedder
aims squarely at the rafters of the world's areanas, with a jealous eye
towards the likes of Muse.
Take "All The Right Moves." The first song on the disc may be "Made
For You," but that song ends with a children's choir that sings the "All
The Right Moves" anthemic chorus just before the bombastic percussion
for the song itself bursts in. Strings swell as Tedder arcs his voice
for a final soaring falsetto on the chorus' catchy hook. same with
"Secrets," where Tedder takes a page from his mentor Timbaland and mixes
rap verses with a high flying chorus and more strings. Or the closer,
"Lullaby." Every bit as sedate as the title suggests, it's also twice as
earnest as it probably needs to be. "Waking Up" contains bombast, but
it's a good kind of bombast.
Problem is, after awhile, you wish he'd just pull in the reins a
little. The title track is such an obvious U2 clone that you wonder if
Tedder stole it from an early draft of "Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark."
The militaristic drumming of "Marching On" is overkill, even if the
left, left, left right left hook is unshakable. The hooks throughout
"Waking Up" are the calling card; they show exactly why Tedder has
become such a go-to guy for the stars. Even my favorite song here,
"Everybody Loves Me," strikes the perfect balance of snappy beats and
earworm. Maroon 5 or Justin Timberlake would probably kill to get their
teeth into it.
Unfortunately, and why this album ultimately gets an average rating
from me, I don't hear an identity on "Waking Up." If Ryan Tedder wants
to jump ahead of the likes of The Fray and become the equal to Maroon
5's Adam Levine (or genre champ Chris Martin of Coldplay), he's going to
have to prove he's got more in him than ace writing chops. OneRepublic
has the ambition, Tedder obviously knows both the writing and production
craft, now it's to be determined if he can become in individual above
the skill sets.