“Better Days” Song By OneRepublic: Music Analysis

Song Title, Group, and YouTube Link: “Better Days” by OneRepublic

Duple or Triple Meter

The song exhibits more of a duple meter, and to some extent, there is some aspect of a triple meter. At the begging, around 0:29, I hear one measure of duple meter in the lyrics (Tedder et al.). The word “waking up in California” comes immediately after beating one, and “clouds” land on beat three. As the lyrics continue at 1:28, I can further hear the triple meter (Tedder et al.). The word “does” comes immediately, and it is followed by the vocal part that flows. The piano beat is clear hence making it easier to detect the changes in pulse in each measure. Similarly, at 1:41, I can listen to a fusion between the strong and weak beats in the lyric implying the use of syncopation (Tedder et al.). In the song, I did not hear instances of dotted rhythm throughout the lyrics. At 1:30, the singer sings “I know that there’ll be better days” to a long rhythm. The meter created by the piano beat in the song made it easier for the artists to pronounce their lyrics in an effective style.

Major and Minor Harmonies

Even though the song is categorized as a sad song, it is played in major harmonies. The style creates an aspect of bittersweet quality in the lyrics. However, at the begging, the lyrics start with minor harmony making the song utilize both major and minor chords (Tedder et al.). The first line, “Oh, I know that there’ll be better days,” is composed of minor harmony, and it is repeated severally in the song (Tedder et al.). The combination of major and minor keys makes the music pass its message, which is about hoping for better days ahead. Based on my opinion, incorporating major keys indicates that the singers are looking forward to days when there will be no more tears.

Generally, in music, consonance displays the aspect of stability, while dissonance portrays the opposite. In the lyrics, the song exudes the use of consonance, especially in the chorus section, where the singer holds the word “better days” over different harmonies (Tedder et al.). The artists used consonance to give the audience hope during the tough times people were facing due to the pandemic. This was to enhance the comfort of individuals listening to the song.

Conjunct and Disjunct Melody

The song majorly displays a disjunct melodic style because there are several incidents where the phrases leap downwards as well as upwards. For instance, at 0.15, the song begins at a high pitch when the singers pronounce the word “Oh,” then it is followed immediately by a significant drop when the artists sing “better days” (Tedder et al.). The singers then introduce the conjunct motion in the lyric, especially at 0:33, where the pitch switches from low to high very quickly. The features are further shown by the guitar and piano in the music. For instance, at 0:46, both the instruments shift from the previous high note to a significant low.

In the song, the melodic contour can be described as rising and dropping lines that continue to repeat the pattern throughout the music. At the start of the song, the singer’s voice tends to rise when he mentions the word “Oh,” and the guitar too increases its note significantly (Tedder et al.). The guitar then declines to allow the other verses to start, including the piano, which begins at a higher note. The artist projects a high pitch on the words “better days” to indicate hope for the future which portrays the aspect of rising lines. On the other hand, the lyric “May we never shed another tear for today” is mentioned in slowly dropping melodic lines.

Homophony and Polyphony

The song “Better Days” contains both homophonic and polyphonic textures in the lyrics. Generally, the audience’s main focus is on the content of words in the vocal melody. In this piece of art, the artists display multiple voices moving in the same style and others that have distinct melodic rhythms. For the case of homophony, the lyrics at 0:12 depict the voice of a singer accompanied by the guitar that tends to copy the rising motion of the artist (Tedder et al.). Similarly, the aspect of polyphony can be heard at 0.47, where there are multiple voices, guitar, and piano (Tedder et al.). As the singers’ vocal melody rises, the guitar’s pitch increases as well, imitating and creating simultaneous melodic lines in the song.


According to the song, OneRepublic significantly incorporated the aspect of rubato in the music. For instance, the beats sometimes increase, and at some point, they slow down. I hear these criteria at 0:45, where the guitar and piano beat drops, and at 1:27, where they speed up effectively. Similarly, the singers fall behind the beat, for example, at 1:28 (Tedder et al.). On the other hand, the artists rushed ahead of the musical beat at around 1:21 with the words “Don’t worry ’bout me.” Moreover, another musical trait evident in the piece of art is tempo. The song begins at a slow speed and some point, tends to accelerate and then drops again. The vocal melody, guitar, and piano all show the change in tempo throughout the entire music. For instance, at 1:48, the speed of the song declines.

Work cited

Tedder, Ryan, Kutzle, Brent and Nathaniel, John. “Better Days.” Better Days (OneRepublic song). OneRepublic, digital download. Santa Monica, California: Interscope Records, Web.