It was five years ago this week that OneRepublic was ruling for their last of seven weeks on the CHR chart with “Apologize”, their very first mainstream hit. Back then, it was credited to Timbaland presents OneRepublic, even though the producer just added an extra percussive beat and “eh, eh, eh” repetitions to it. It launched them into superstardom and made Ryan Tedder was of the most used writers and producers of pop music over the last few years. Six top-40 hits on the format later, including “Stop and Stare” and “Good Life”, they’re about to deliver their newest hit, the second single from the forthcoming album, Native. It’s entitled “If I Lose Myself”, and once you take a listen to it, you’ll understand why.
“Myself” is the followup to the non-traditional charity single “Feel Again”, which crept into the CHR top twenty and Hot AC top ten several weeks ago. Some of the proceeds from the sales of the track went to the Save The Children Fund. A lot of critics noted at the time that the heavy drums and clapping syncopation was reminiscent of Florence + The Machine‘s “Dog Days Are Over”, which was quite possibly one of the reasons it’s been stalling on the charts. “Days” wasn’t a big U.S. hit beyond the Hot AC chart, and even then, it was a slow-rising top twenty hit. It was also better. While OneRepublic are a core format artist now, it just wasn’t the same sonically as their past material, and now, it’s begun to crash down. Personally, I thought it was way better than their last leadoff single, “All The Right Moves”, which sounded like it was about three songs jumbled into one and just burned really quickly for me. Plus, the single cover was essentially an artistic version of fellatio; not that you needed to know that, but just think about it. Yeah, we are going down.
So, now that their album has been pushed back to March, the label has enough to promote this second single, which is released to iTunes on January 8. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Halfway through the fourteen second synthesizer intro and you’re like, “A dance song? By a rock band? Sheesh. #Sellout.” First of all, please don’t embarrass yourself by talking in hashtags. That’s just awkward. Second of all, you’re sort of right, if you didn’t realize that lead singer Tedder has been featured on several dance tracks in the past year, including one on Zedd‘s recent album. Yes, this is probably the most electro-pop that the band has trended towards, but it was the natural next step for them given what becomes a hit today. Face it, kids, electro-pop singles by a band with an alternative background is the new one-off rock band disco single. Listen to “Goodnight Tonight” by Wings, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” by KISS, etc. and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Lyrically, this starts off as an introspective piece, Tedder staring off into the sun and looking at all the faces before him, glancing at his “life out the window”, which I’m assuming means that this is taken from the perspective of an older man looking back on his youth. Then, bizarrely, he sings that “if I lose myself tonight, it’ll be by your side,” which now makes me think he’s younger and inexperienced and hooking up with a girl for the first time. Come again, guys? I remember one time during their debut era that the label purchased some banners for them on ProBoards, describing the band’s songs as “lyrical journeys”, but the only journey I’m taking is one that’s running around in circles. Remember when they talked about sending their album straight to Gold status in “Secrets”? Yeah, that certification took over two years, let’s not jump the gun, boys. That’s basically it in the lyrics department, as the second verse is essentially a repeat of the first, save for a few word changes. This is, except for a middle eight where an overdubbed group keeps chanting “Take us down and we keep trying / 40,000 feet, keep flying”, which makes me think that they’re giving up on music to become jet pilots. That’s a really big career change, guys, I would think about that one a little bit. Seriously, though, sort of a cheap shot at their critics if you take it that way. “Hey, we know you hate on our music, but we’re still flying on airplanes to the next gig, holla.” I think that’s all I have to say on that. Youngblood Hawke‘s “We Come Running” does the whole chanting thing better if you want a current example, plus it’s children doing it.
Despite my nitpicking, this is exactly what the band needs to have a successful CHR hit as well as their regular Hot AC airplay; a repetitive, quick keyboard section that sounds like it’s done by David Guetta (though it’s obviously not), their signature drums, and Tedder’s usually solid emotive vocal, maybe a tad bit less whiny than usual. I still think they can do better than this Maroon 5 and Neon Trees lite material they’ve been releasing as of late, and I’m sure there’s some more diverse material on their forthcoming album, Native. At least they don’t need Donald Duck doing the background vocals. (I’m looking at you “One More Night”.) That being said, this will do as a single, and should rank higher on the charts than “Feel” did, as well as chug along at a faster rate. I’ll say it’ll be a solid top 15 single at CHR and a top 5 hit at Hot AC. However, they’re still a faceless band to me, which is a problem, and they’re straying away from a pure pop sound that gave them their biggest hit of their last era. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing else left to “lose” — until we see how the general public responds to it. –AFS