That Wherever I Go, OneRepublic’s latest single and teaser for the as yet untitled new album, is a polished pop-rock affair isn’t really surprising. Neither is its competence given frontman Ryan Tedder’s long list of song-writing and production credits, and the evident strong musicianship from his fellow band-members. So, Wherever I Go is a polished and competent pop-rock (heavy on the pop) song; what else is it? Sadly not much.
Fitting with the song’s trite lonely traveller theme, the music is a melange of influences; synth-pop, check; Latinesque guitar, check; EDM backing beat, check; sensitive new-age guy vocals, check. This could have made for an interesting rhapsody but, as the song runs less than 3 minutes, it comes across as a little “something for everybody” and lacks any true character of its own. Which brings me back to the polished production. Wherever I Go, feels machine made, like something that has been buffed to a high sheen to hide its parentage. It could have been released by a myriad of bands/artists without anyone questioning its origin.
As mentioned earlier, Tedder is an accomplished song-writer and producer and can put food on the table by his side-gigs alone. The rest of the band are accomplished musicians, and songwriters themselves, and could undoubtedly make their way in the world independent of OneRepublic. So why does Wherever I Go have no patina? No tarnish or texture to indicate the personality and life of the artisan?
But, ultimately all this is moot; King Knut ordering the incoming tide to recede. Millions have already heard the song, it will sell and make squillions. Radio stations will love it as those who aren’t really listening will tune in, and those who don’t want to listen will find themselves absentmindedly humming its hook. Don’t bother going out to find Wherever I Go, as it’ll find you.