It’s rare for songs to have a long shelf life. Released last August, OneRepublic’s single “Good Life” is still being played on the radio and the band expressed their surprise at its longevity to CBS Local.
Frontman Ryan Tedder admitted that the hardest songs to write are uptempo ones. Tracks that are “not cheesy, that actually says something and has emotion,” he said.
So why did “Good Life” resonate so much with people?
“[‘Good Life’] tapped into some kind of emotion. We found out [that songs] are very cathartic for people. When we did it we weren’t really cognizant of what that song would do,” he said.
Knowing the song was catchy, he said the band intentionally waited to put it out because it was the most pop track on the album.
“We just had no idea it was going to have the shelf life that it’s had,” he said. “We’ve been off the road for a year and a half and it’s still being played constantly. I think we’re excited to put out a new single if nothing else to get away from ‘Good Life.'”
So how exactly did “Good Life” come together?
“We were in a Cheesecake Factory weren’t we?” Ryan jokingly asked the band.
Guitarist Drew Brown played along. “So we’re eating mocha cheesecake…”
The real story behind the song takes place in London where Ryan and Drew were recording strings for their last album Waking Up.
“The album was essentially done and I just kept saying, which is what I tend to say at the end of each album to everybody in the band, ‘You have 30 days. Here’s all the songs. Please, please, please listen and beat everything we have. Just write your a**es off for the next 30 days.’ And that’s literally what happened,” he said.
The band had a month to beat anything they had recorded.
“I came back from London and I just had the most insane three or four days in London recording strings at Abbey Road. It was just emotional. It was incredible,” he recalled. “And then Brent [Kutzle] had come up with this chord progression. This just basic, beautiful chord progression and our engineer at the time threw some drums on it and it was just one of those serendipitous moments with the combination of two pretty simple elements.”
Adamant that the best songs are simple, within 60 seconds Ryan had the chorus and knew exactly what the song would be about.
“It was just a trip to London. The verses are very specific to me and very much my experience, my journey so to speak,” he said.
Brown added that it was important for the band to make the song bigger than telling a story.
“Bigger than telling what happened last night after too many drinks or whatever. The chorus was the key. Just trying to figure out, how do we make this where people can relate to this universally but I also relate to it?” Ryan added. “That’s the trick with every song where if I have to sing it every night I’m not sitting here thinking, ‘Let’s write something that’s going to make the kids dance.’ You’ve got to write something that you want to sing every night.”
Luckily for Ryan, OneRepublic did just that. He further stressed that it’s important that he sings something he believes in.
“Otherwise when you’re onstage people will see right through you and know that you’re just selling them ear candy,” he said. “That’s always the hardest part with every song. Personal, universal and just getting that balance.”
-Annie Reuter, CBS Local