Billions of people have listened to Beyonce’s “Halo,” Adele’s “Rumour Has It” and Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Heart.” Each of these pop hits have reached top spots in the charts. These three songs share a commonality: Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
From writing songs for other artists, producing their own hits, having numerous television and movie appearances and winning three Grammy awards, OneRepublic became a powerhouse of talent and should be the quintessential example of success in the music industry. Except they’re not.
Tedder and his Oklahoma-native bandmates formed OneRepublic in 2002. Since then, they have been a common name on the charts with songs like “All the Right Moves” and “Good Life.” Even as they gained fame, they never lost sight of their humble beginnings.
Despite all the accolades, charity work and hits, OneRepublic and Ryan Tedder are not touted as highly as other artists. They rarely appear in music news and the band does not have the status of singers like Taylor Swift or Katy Perry, even though they have been in the music industry longer.
In fact, Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time does not include Tedder. The impact OneRepublic has had on the careers of other artists and the music industry itself deserves recognition.
As the lead singer of OneRepublic, Tedder has written hit after hit. He wrote “Forget You” by Ceelo Green, “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes, Ellie Goulding’s “Burn” and The Fray’s “Love Don’t Die.” Clearly, he has no problem transcending his own alternative pop-rock roots to make music that speaks to every listener and fits the style of each singer.
If his work in the music industry isn’t impressive enough, his band has had major success over the years too. In 2013, they released their third album, “Native.” It featured “Counting Stars,” which sold over 10 million copies. When OneRepublic released the emotional ballad “Apologize,” it stayed on the charts for 68 weeks. That alone is a testament to their craftsmanship. They also “shattered digital sales and airplay records worldwide,” according to NBC.
OneRepublic’s tracks are often shrugged off as generic songs played in the background of cruise commercials. However, that attitude ignores the relevance and genius behind Tedder’s lyrics. For example, in 2018, he released the song “Start Again.” Tedder sings, “Can I just turn back the clock and forgive my sins? I just want to roll my sleeves up and start again.” For many people, these words are expressing the all too human desire to take back a mistake and to have a better outcome. He wants to start again and be a better person.
The song was relevant at the time due to the attention on the climate crisis. As activists like Greta Thunberg called on governments to take climate change seriously, the band was making waves of its own. OneRepublic’s music video for “Start Again” featured a world completely barren because of pollution and negligence. Tedder ends the song repeating how he wishes he could start again. A television set shows a news broadcast saying “Global Warming Beyond Point of No Control” and “Nuclear War Edges Closer.”
Even more recently, OneRepublic released the song “Better Days.” Through various Instagram Live concerts, Tedder expressed how the song was meant to act as a beacon of hope for people suffering during the pandemic. With a reassuring tone, Tedder sings, “Oh, I know that there’ll be better days. Oh, that sunshine ’bout to come my way. May we never ever shed another tear for today. ‘Cause oh, I know that there’ll be better days.” OneRepublic also donated the proceeds to help fight the coronavirus.
OneRepublic writes songs with a purpose, not just to entertain. They strive to leave an imprint on society for the better. In 2019, they performed for the Global Citizen Festival and helped raise $1 billion dollars for the Global Poverty Project.
They also have their own charity, Good Life Foundation. Inspired by their hit song “Good Life,” the organization helps people live better lives. According to Global Citizen, the band’s foundation works to help children worldwide dealing with poverty, slavery and physical disabilities and illnesses, as well as those affected by homelessness, domestic abuse and sex trafficking.
The industry doesn’t just judge a musician based on their songs nowadays, but also by who they are as a person. OneRepublic uses their platform for the betterment of society. Musically, they deliver time and time again, and their millions in sales are proof. As human beings, their charity work shows just how much they care about others.
The best way to summarize the essence of OneRepublic is in Tedder’s own words: “It’s not about money, you can’t go into a songwriting session thinking about money, you just can’t. It taints the whole process if you do it for money, or do anything for money.”
Ultimately, OneRepublic represents a group of humble musicians who showcase their talent through consistent chart-toppers and collaborations. This is all while managing to contribute to society positively and offer serious messages and optimism. For OneRepublic’s 17 years of unwavering commitment, they deserve more attention.