"Love Runs Out"
According to Digital Spy, "Love Runs Out" was supposed to be the lead single on OneRepublic's 2013 album Native. But frontman Ryan Tedder was having a tough time coming up with the chorus, and the song wasn't ready. So when it was finally completed in 2014, the band reissued the album just to include it.
Listening to this catchy, determination-filled tune about being faithful to one's beloved, it's not hard to see why it was so important to the band. The melody is as infectious as anything I've heard from Tedder and Co., propelled forward as it is by insistent drums and a pounding piano line. It's exactly the kind of track you put on repeat when you want to shift your workout into high gear.
Speaking of high gear, that's what OneRepublic is interested in when it comes to relationships. Here a man articulates his intention to go the distance in a romance, insisting, "I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun/I'll be the bright in the black that's making you run/And we'll feel alright, and we'll feel alright/'Cause we'll work it out, yeah, we'll work it out." Then comes the chorus: "I'll be doin' this, if you have a doubt/'Til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out."
Now, a cynic might suggest he's only promising to be faithful as long as the relationship is all hot and sparkly, and then he's gone. And while it's true that Ryan never explicitly says that this love is forever, "'til death do us part," the song's metaphors for resilience, perseverance and determination strongly suggest that's what's intended here. That indeed the love will never run out.
He's determined to be his beloved's biggest fan ("I'll be your ghost, your game, your stadium/I'll be your 50,000 clapping like one"), and he forcefully shuts the door on second thoughts ("I've got my mind made up, man, I can't let go"). Tedder even goes so far as to describe a temptation-based spiritual battle between angels and devils that's ultimately decided by his determination to pray and stand firm in his convictions: "Got an angel on my shoulder and Mephistopheles/But mama raised me good, mama raised me right/Mama said, 'Do what you want, say your prayers at night/And I'm sayin' them, 'cause I'm so devout/'Til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out."
Neither darkness nor demons, it would seem, will deter this man from faithfully caring for the woman he loves.
Toward the conclusion, lyrics take a philosophical detour of sorts, dealing with the fact that everyone is pursuing something that matters to them ("Oh, we all want the same thing/Oh, we all run for something/Run for God, for fate/For love, for hate/For gold, for rust/For diamonds, for dust."
Is Tedder then saying that all these pursuits are equal and interchangeable? The song never gives us enough context to answer that question definitively. What he does say here is that everyone is motivated to chase something. And the thing that he personally is chasing, we hear one more time, is a burning love, the flame of which he never wants to see snuffed out: "I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun/I'll be the bright in the black that's making you run."
The video features a colorful, swirling array of images that produces a tribal, almost elemental feel. We see horses and hooves and fire, roiling clouds and desert landscapes as Tedder and other band members perform individually. Native-like dancers (including women seemingly encased in papier–mâché volcanoes with midriffs bared) stomp 'n' sway to the strong rhythm and dramatic color contrasts.
Almost incongruously, an elderly woman is playing the piano part and smiling as Ryan walks up behind her and touches her on the shoulder. At first I thought it might be his mother. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Reflecting further, I wonder if she represents what growing old with someone might look like. Whatever her presence here symbolizes, it's a refreshing departure from the kind of highly sexualized imagery that often turns up in romantically oriented songs like this one.