CD Review of Dreaming Out Loud by OneRepublic
Recommended if you like
The Fray, Maroon 5, Bubble Baths
Interscope/Moseley Music Group
Dreaming Out Loud

Reviewed by Jeff Giles


ou know the drill, rock snobs – this happens about once every two or three years. Fresh-faced group of ballad-loving pop singers assaults the airwaves “out of nowhere,” provoking waves of tearful screaming from adolescent girls, vaguely sad sighing from youngish housewives and secretaries, and irritated eyerolls from everyone else. Said band goes on to sell millions upon millions of albums, thus proving – again – that adolescent girls, housewives, and secretaries outnumber the rest of the population.

Given that the back half of 2007 was alarmingly free of new music from the Fray, Coldplay, or (until the holiday season) matchbox twenty, it only made sense that a tastefully piano-rockin’ group of sensitive guys would rise up to fill the void. And here’s the part of the OneRepublic story that doesn’t make sense: The band’s path to the Top 10 was cleared by none other than Timbaland, the world-famous hip-hop producer/recording artist who made his bones helping Missy Elliott and Aaliyah conquer the airwaves. Noticing OneRepublic’s popularity on MySpace – not to mention the aforementioned Fray-sized hole in the marketplace – Tim signed the band to his Moseley imprint, added a loop to the band’s breakup ballad “Apologize,” and created an instant pop sensation.

If you’ve heard “Apologize,” you probably understand how incredible it is that Timbaland not only has a remix credit on the song, but has taken top billing on the single version. Aside from the drum loop – which you could have programmed yourself, given half a day and a copy of GarageBand – and some background vocals shoved way down in the mix, it really isn’t all that different from the album track; as remixes go, it has more in common with the silly “video mix” B-sides of the early ‘90s than anything you’d expect from the guy who gave us “Are You That Somebody.” But that’s why Timbaland wipes his ass with hundred-dollar bills while the rest of us are stuck listening to “Apologize” on an infinite loop in the office, at the doctor’s office, and in the grocery store. The man is an evil genius.

If you have – again – heard “Apologize,” you know exactly what to expect from Dreaming Out Loud. If you haven’t, here’s a list: Slick, immaculately produced instrumentation (heavy on the pianos, natch), soaring choruses, and delicate lead vocals that rise and fall as gracefully as singer Ryan Tedder’s silly little faux hawk. It’s all very late ‘80s U2, with all the rough edges sanded off – the kind of music that might prove irresistible for twentysomethings in the middle of bad breakups, but should trigger wailing bullshit alarms in everyone else.

It isn’t very good, in other words, but that’s purely beside the point; nobody except the people making them ever expects albums like Dreaming Out Loud to succeed as art. They make the most sense as product, and on that front, these twelve songs (sample titles: “Goodbye, Apathy,” “All We Are,” “Prodigal”) represent a major triumph of the 21st-century recording industry. OneRepublic will sell many millions of copies, and make many millions of people happy. The rest of us may not get the joke, but it’s still on us. When’s the new Fray album coming out, anyway?

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