The song at #36 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Counting Stars” by pop-rock band OneRepublic. I’ve been a big fan of OneRepublic since falling in love with their beautiful song “Apologize” in 2008, which ended up at #8 on my Top 100 Songs of the 2000s. Their fantastic song “Counting Stars”, was released in June 2013 as the second single from their third album Native. It was a huge hit around the world, reaching #1 in Canada, Brazil, Finland, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel and the UK. In the U.S. it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the Adult Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts.
The song has an infectious and powerful beat-driven melody, with touches of soul, gospel and dance-pop that make for a colorful and exciting listen. Band front man Ryan Tedder wrote the song while staying in a house in the Hamptons being rented by Jay-Z and Beyonce, and said it’s about “laying in bed awake at night when you’re stressed out of your mind, thinking ‘How are we gonna make ends meet? How are we gonna pay the bills?’ You know, all those things you wanna do with your life – how are we gonna make them work? How’s this actually gonna happen or come to pass? So, instead of counting sheep, we’re counting stars.” For me, the highlight of the song are Tedder’s beautiful vocals.
The music video for the song was filmed in New Orleans, and shows the band performing the song in a dusty, decrepit building – complete with a roaming alligator – while a church revival service goes on upstairs. As of November 2020, it has received over 3.1 billion views, and currently ranks as the 14th most-viewed YouTube video ever.