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Story and Photos by Andy ArgyrakisAnyone who thinks Colorado Springs turned L.A. alternative rockers OneRepublic is an overnight sensation either hasn't done their homework or looked at the band's liner notes very closely. For starters, singer/piano man Ryan Tedder was an early 2000s production protégé of Timbaland and quickly earned credits (under the moniker Alias) in some capacity for artists as diverse as Paul Oakenfold, Natasha Bedingfield, and Bubba Sparxxx. In group contexts, OneRepublic was dutifully treading the indie waters around the same era (including an area appearance at MOBfest) and eventually found its way into Columbia's channels. Though the deal looked great on paper and helped gain visibility for a highly coveted slot at Coachella, the trip home was dampened with the news of being dropped.
Fast forward to the end of 2007 and the guys' tireless work ethic made them masters of the MySpace community, with additional thunder from Timabaland's remix of the longstanding live tune "Apologize." A split deal with Mosley Music Group/Interscope followed, and since OneRepublic's Dreaming Out Loud hit shelves late last year, the gang's been literally unstoppable (including a string of sold out shows). As admirable as that entire run might seem, the group couldn't connect in concert nearly to the degree it has on radio, partially because it didn't play "Apologize" in Timbaland's dance-derived vein, but most notably, because of derivative and often times mediocre material.
By just a few songs into the set ("Say," "Mercy," "Stop and Stare"), it was clear OneRepublic was little more than a clone of The Fray meets Coldplay or Keane, with plenty of U2-styled power chord surges thrown in for extra leverage. That combination has been tossed together so many times as of late, it's impossible to count that high, plus the ethereal cello centering of "All Fall Down" and the electricity doused piano jam "Tyrant" could've both been treated with more tenacity by any of the aforementioned.
Though pleasant in almost all cases and occasionally imaginative (like the glockenspiel-laced "Goodbye, Apathy"), OneRepublic didn't present much uniqueness beyond the already established piano pop pack. Tedder also inserted a few lines from U2's "With or Without You" into the acoustic progressions of "Apologize," but didn't posses even a fraction the original creator's charisma. Other covers included The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" (which would've been much cooler had that band not just reunited) and a cheeky take on Rihanna's overplayed "Umbrella." Good spirits and airplay aside, OneRepublic has its work cut out to remain more than just the flavor of the month, though given its storied road to success thus far, hopefully members have more inventive ideas on the horizon.
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