Things will get better. That's the theme of most of Logic's new song with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, Colorado's reigning king of cheesy pop.
"One Day" dropped this week, topping Spotify's New Music Playlist. The lyrics chronicle Logic's rise from homelessness and despair, and on the surface prove to the most despondent pop music fan that anything in this gloomy life is possible – well, at least, tomorrow.
Tedder opens the song with the chorus:
And maybe one day I'll be wiser,
Cause maybe one day I'll be further from here.
Put all of my faith in tomorrow.
Dark days keep me up all night.
Only thing I know, it's gonna be alright.
Is it gonna be alright?
Sorry, Tedder and Logic. Probably not. Call me a wet blanket, but cooking up pop music solutions to the gloomy present is like taking a cheese-grater to tender souls. Hopeful songs just make things seem even worse. Why? Because even if things will turn around as the song suggests, between Arctic ice caps melting, racism on the rise, mass shootings becoming as inevitable as breathing air, apocalyptic poverty as the status quo, and a lying groper-in-chief puppet of Russia squatting in the Oval Office, our world is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
But we all need something to look forward to, some reason to struggle through the swamp of despair, some dream to believe in – at least, that's the pill the pop music machine has always prescribed. And the song appears to dose us with that.
Logic pops in with the first verse:
You ever wonder what it means to make it by any means and finally obtain your dreams
On the come up, where they run up from the world of many fiends
I been at it since a teen, get this money, get the cream
Hard work and sacrifice but not a lot know what I mean
Most these rappers ain't got no class like bomb threats
And bein' ill is a disease, it's the onset
And it don't matter where you at
If you white or if you black
If you rich, or you poor, we gon' always want more
But one thing I can be sure, as long as I got the floor
I'ma use this power to paint a picture of unity
And yeah I'm rippin' it up with that energy like it's two of me
Fuck the lights and the cameras, right now it's just you and me
The rapper offers a personal heart-to-heart with each fan about hope and the possibility of unity – nodding to that myth that the world's problems can be solved through hand-holding and dialogue.
After a line about Frank Sinatra doing things his way and taking the road to success, Logic one-ups the old crooner, saying he, on the other hand, has taken the highway.
And it's great for Logic that he has risen from homelessness to millionaire status as he describes in the second verse:
Feelin' blessed like I'm at mass
Yeah, I'm comin' for that ass
Game been broken for too long, so I guess I am the cast
Like my Section 8 crib, finally found some greener grass
So ahead of my time, I wasn't born in the past
This right here a double-header with Logic and Ryan Tedder
Oh no, it can't get no better
And you know, you know we do it for the children
I never thought I'd see the day I made a million
A couple dozen later, feel like everybody feel 'em
I ain't mean to boast in that last line
But countin' money's always been my favorite pass time
Especially with a past like mine
Drugs in the household
Never had a hand to hold
Even when I was homeless in the blisterin' cold, but I made it out
And if I can, you can no doubt
But the promise of rags to riches for the rest of us – "And if I can, you can no doubt" – is just plain malarkey, and while placebos have been proven to cure diseases as long as people believe in them, even the placebo effect won't make the American Dream come true.
Most of the song follows the pop script, obeying that mandate of catchy music — that it must be inspiring, lest people won't buy it. It's a cynical recipe for growing rich at the expense of other people's desperation: I show you why you're life's hard, and then I sell you the solution.
But the lyrics do something smarter and more honest than that right at the end; the song doesn't wrap up with a period, but rather a question mark.
Tedder is riffing on the chorus: Things are dark, things will be alright, I'll put my faith in tomorrow, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It goes like this:
And maybe one day I'll be wiser
'Cause maybe one day I'll be further from here
Put all of my faith in tomorrow
Dark days keep me up all night
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And here's the song's shocking kicker: "Only thing I know, it's gonna be –"
Alright? Terrible? Good? Apocalyptic? Surely this is just a long pause, not a cliffhanger? Actually, we're left dangling and have to fill in the blank. And that's where the song leaves other optimistic pop numbers in the dust.
The future isn't up to Logic or Tedder, that incomplete sentence suggests. It's up to us.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Ryan Tedder's band. It is OneRepublic.