Since OneRepublic emerged on the rock scene in 2007 with Dreaming Out Loud, the Colorado-based, Grammy-nominated quintet has had plenty of reasons to feel as though those dreams were coming true. Not the least of them is the fact that a remix of the band’s song “Apologize” went triple-platinum and became the biggest radio airplay hit in the history of the Top 40 in North America. Lead vocalist and singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder has also produced and written smash hits for the likes of Beyoncé, Leona Lewis, Timbaland and Kelly Clarkson.
So maybe it’s no surprise that the group’s latest track is titled “Good Life.” (It’s the fourth single from the album Waking Up.)
The track is a straightforward, catchy, drum-driven reflection on happiness. As Tedder surveys his jet-setter lifestyle, he recognizes that he’s living his wildest dream of success: “To my friends in New York, I say hello/My friends in L.A., they don’t know/Where I’ve been for the past few years or so/Paris to China to Colorado/ … Woke up in London yesterday/Found myself in the city near Piccadilly/Don’t really know how I got here/I got some pictures on my phone/ … When you’re happy like a fool/Let it take you over/When everything is out/You gotta take it in.”
Still, Tedder seems to take in the pleasure of it all with a hint of reticence. Maybe it’s just the wordsmith in me, but it’s interesting that he sings, “Oh, this has gotta be the good life/This has gotta be the good life/This could really be a good life, good life.” Why not grab the fabulous moment by the horns and definitively say, “This is the good life”? Well, the answer might lie with this glimpse of his uncertainty: “Sometimes there’s airplanes I can’ t jump out/Sometimes there’s bulls‑‑‑ that don’t work now/We all got our stories, but please tell me/What there is to complain about.”
The group’s second-guessing vaguely reminds me of Proverbs 14:13, which says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” Not that OneRepublic is anywhere near a depressive slump. But it’s clearly human nature to wonder how long carefree times will last before the proverbial other shoe will drop. Tedder sings, “Hopelessly, I feel like there might be something that I’ll miss/Hopelessly, I feel like the window closes oh so quick/Hopelessly, I’m taking a mental picture of you now/’Cause hopelessly, the hope is we have so much to feel good about.”
Tedder told People magazine, “I’m trying not to follow fads too much. People will always want to hear an honest lyric with a great melody, something they emotionally connect with. Honest always sells. Always has, always will.”
I’ll buy that. Honest does always sell. I just wish profanity didn’t.