One Republic – ”Secrets” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“Secrets” is an authentic story about suffering from success written by Ryan Tedder. The lyrics focus on how difficulties can arise when you’re trying to write the next big hit, which causes a scramble for ideas. Instead of writing dishonest, empty songs, Tedder insists that the right way forward is to be as genuine as possible. In addition, this song touches on the idea that creators should create with principle even if it costs them praise.

Ryan Tedder wrote the song as part of OneRepublic’s second studio album, Waking Up. By this time, OneRepublic was already massively successful, which made Tedder one of the most well-known songwriters in the business. This explains where the emotional pressure came from, especially in the context of his career trajectory.

In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these honest lyrics to discover their intended meaning. We’ll also take a look at the songwriting story and the universal themes that anyone can understand. Without further ado, let’s get started!

“Secrets” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics begin by describing a creativity block. Tedder needs “another story” to tell, but he’s coming up short. This is because his “life gets kinda boring” sometimes. There isn’t always a life-altering event or impactful emotion to tap into when songwriting. Sometimes, you’re just living neutrally.

Nonetheless, he wants an idea so explosive that his “sleeves are stained red.” Basically, this means he’s looking for inspiration so powerful that it will cause havoc. He worries that a fan will see him “wink,”  but Tedder denies this accusation. He promises he’s trying to be sincere, not disingenuous.

The chorus becomes more of an outpouring than a collection of statements. He asks the public to tell him what “they want to hear” so he can tap into it. Still, this frustrates him. He doesn’t want to be an “insincere” crowd-pleaser and prefers to be a genuine artist. Even if critics never “jump in line,” he’s going to give his secrets away.

Tedder confirmed this interpretation by stating that the meaning of “Secrets” is summarized by a rhetorical question: “Do you want me to communicate to you actual truth, or do you wanna just hear what you want to hear?” This theme, based on the source above, was also the main purpose of the video.

In verse two, this theme continues. Tedder reflects on his success, marveling that he “got this far.” However, even though he lives in a world of “all those stars,” there are deeper things that bother him. What are they? Tedder sees “problems we could solve” when he watches the news and wants to be a part of solving them.

Although Tedder would like to send his meaningful art “straight to gold,” he’s skeptical that this will work. He says, “I don’t really like my flow,” which indicates a level of self-doubt. Can he really change the world with his art, or should he just chase the next “perfect lie” instead?

This song also includes an interesting bridge, which can be interpreted in many ways. The main idea appears to involve staying culturally relevant. Tedder doesn’t want to “disappear.” However, the typical celebrity methods of desperately clinging to fame are unavailable to Tedder. He has no “family he can blame” or hidden “shame” that he could suddenly expose to generate buzz. Instead, he’ll rely on authenticity.

At this point, the chorus just repeats until the song ends. In summary, “Secrets” is about abandoning a shallow, egocentric view of art in favor of a more intimate one. Tedder promises his fans to show them his entire identity without holding anything back. This level of confidence and refreshing honesty contributes significantly to the song’s success.

The Story Behind “Secrets”

The message we find in the lyrics of “Secrets” is completely tied to the life phase Tedder was in when he wrote the track. With significant success, a big name, and recognition already achieved, Tedder had to think of a way to keep his creative forces fresh despite his status.

OneRepublic already had the industry hanging on their word, with singles like “Apologize” and “Stop and Stare” in the rearview mirror. Tedder, as the frontman and main songwriter, became respected as a certified hitmaker within the music world.

While this carried some serious benefits with it, it also brought pressure. However, despite the creative block that “Secrets” describes, Tedder appears to have come out the other side. OneRepublic’s second album, Waking Up, produced several hits that further cemented the band’s place in the music world. More importantly, they did it by being true to a creative vision instead of fishing for hits.

“Secrets” earned itself plenty of success, commercially and critically alike. It has sold millions of copies worldwide and was completely unavoidable on the radio after its release. In addition, it’s been featured in several pieces of media, such as 30 Rock, Lost, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

The next time you play this heavy-duty earworm, let these pieces of background information make it more special!