OneRepublic’s Counting Stars passes one million sales: Ryan Tedder reveals the story behind the song

OneRepublic’s Counting Stars is revealed as the UK’s latest million-selling single by OfficialCharts.com. Plus, the band’s frontman Ryan Tedder reveals the story behind the song, admitting he almost gave the song to Beyonce!

Counting Stars by OneRepublic has become one of the UK’s biggest-selling singles of all-time, OfficialCharts.com can reveal.

The US band’s track has broken past the million copies sales barrier in the UK, according to Official Charts Company sales data, joining just over 150 other records to reach this milestone in British chart history.

Counting Stars first entered the UK Top 40 in August 2013, eventually hitting Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart seven weeks later, spending two non-consecutive weeks at the top. To this day, it is still inside the Official Top 100 chart, having never dropped out since it entered some 61 weeks ago.

On hearing of hitting the chart landmark, the band's frontman Ryan Tedder said: “That’s crazy! When we recorded the song we had no idea it would have this much success. At the time there was nothing else in the world that sounded like it, so releasing it felt like a bit of a risk.

"What I’ve learnt since is that the most un-safe thing in the world as a musician is to play it safe. The only safe thing is to be risky as hell!”

Explaining the story behind Counting Stars, revealed that he started working on it whilst in the company of Beyonce and Jay Z. Ryan explains: “I had the idea for Counting Stars originally in the summer of 2012 when I was in the Hamptons. I was working in the largest house I’ve ever stepped foot in, which was being rented by Jay Z and Beyonce.

"I was in the middle of working on my most recent album with OneRepublic, Native, and during that time I was determined not to work with any other artists. I broke the promise because I also did sessions that year with Beyonce. When Jay Z and Beyonce invite you to stay with them in the Hamptons, you don’t say no!"

He continued: “I was out there for about five days and on the second day I woke up early and I started combing through the internet, searching for stuff that would inspire me for Beyonce. I ended up coming across this weird song – I don’t even know what it was called – that had this indigenous folk sound to it that just struck me like lightning. I didn’t like the verses or lyrics, but I loved the feel and movement of it. That ended up inspiring Counting Stars.

“I debated playing it for Beyonce and putting it forward for her album, but it didn’t feel like a song Beyonce would record. I immediately came up with the chorus idea, went home and for the next three months finished the Native album."

Ryan concluded: "During that time, I recorded something like five different versions of the song, each with different choruses and using different instruments. We ended up finishing it in Santorini in Greece. All of the accordion and harp and other instruments in that version were recorded by local Grecian musicians. That ended up being the final version of the song."

Meanwhile, Official Charts recently unveiled the Now That’s What I Call A Million compilation album, which contains 61 of the UK’s 153 million-selling songs, including Oasis, Take That, Cher and Ed Sheeran. Click here to view the full tracklisting.

The UK’s Million-Selling Singles

2010s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
RATHER BE CLEAN BANDIT 2014
COUNTING STARS ONEREPUBLIC 2013
LA LA LA NAUGHTY BOY FT SAM SMITH 2013
HAPPY PHARRELL WILLIAMS 2013
BLURRED LINES ROBIN THICKE FT TI & PHARRELL 2013
GET LUCKY DAFT PUNK FT PHARRELL WILLIAMS & NILE RODGERS 2013
WAKE ME UP AVICII 2013
DIAMONDS RIHANNA 2012
LET HER GO PASSENGER 2012
CALL ME MAYBE CARLY RAE JEPSEN 2012
GANGNAM STYLE PSY 2012
IMPOSSIBLE JAMES ARTHUR 2012
MOVES LIKE JAGGER MAROON 5 FT CHRISTINA AGUILERA 2011
PARTY ROCK ANTHEM LMFAO FT LAUREN BENNETT AND GOONROCK 2011
GIVE ME EVERYTHING PITBULL FT NE-YO, AFROJACK, NAYER 2011
PRICE TAG JESSIE J FT B.O.B 2011
SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW GOTYE FT KIMBRA 2011
SOMEONE LIKE YOU ADELE 2011
THE A TEAM ED SHEERAN 2011
TITANIUM DAVID GUETTA FT SIA 2011
WE ARE YOUNG FUN FT JANELLE MONAE 2011
WE FOUND LOVE RIHANNA FT CALVIN HARRIS 2011
JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (AMAZING) BRUNO MARS 2010
ROLLING IN THE DEEP ADELE 2010
LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE EMINEM FT RIHANNA 2010
FIREWORK KATY PERRY 2010
ONLY GIRL (IN THE WORLD) RIHANNA 2010
WHEN WE COLLIDE MATT CARDLE 2010

2000s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
BAD ROMANCE LADY GAGA 2009
FIGHT FOR THIS LOVE CHERYL COLE 2009
I GOTTA FEELING BLACK EYED PEAS 2009
POKER FACE LADY GAGA 2009
HALLELUJAH ALEXANDRA BURKE 2008
SEX ON FIRE KINGS OF LEON 2008
USE SOMEBODY KINGS OF LEON 2008
BLEEDING LOVE LEONA LEWIS 2007
RULE THE WORLD TAKE THAT 2007
CHASING CARS SNOW PATROL 2006
CRAZY GNARLS BARKLEY 2006
(IS THIS THE WAY TO) AMARILLO TONY CHRISTIE FT PETER KAY 2005
THAT'S MY GOAL SHAYNE WARD 2005
DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 20 2004
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE/EVERGREEN WILL YOUNG 2002
UNCHAINED MELODY GARETH GATES 2002
CAN'T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD KYLIE MINOGUE 2001
IT WASN'T ME SHAGGY FT RIKROK 2001
PURE AND SIMPLE HEAR'SAY 2001
WHOLE AGAIN ATOMIC KITTEN 2001
CAN WE FIX IT? BOB THE BUILDER 2000

1990s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
...BABY ONE MORE TIME BRITNEY SPEARS 1999
BELIEVE CHER 1998
BLUE (DA BA DEE) EIFFEL 65 1999
HEARTBEAT/TRAGEDY STEPS 1998
I DON'T WANT TO MISS A THING AEROSMITH 1998
MY HEART WILL GO ON CELINE DION 1998
NO MATTER WHAT BOYZONE 1998
ANGELS ROBBIE WILLIAMS 1997
BARBIE GIRL AQUA 1997
I'LL BE MISSING YOU PUFF DADDY & FAITH EVANS 1997
IT'S LIKE THAT RUN-DMC VS JASON NEVINS 1997
NEVER EVER ALL SAINTS 1997
PERFECT DAY VARIOUS ARTISTS 1997
SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY YOU LOOK
TONIGHT / CANDLE IN THE WIND '97
ELTON JOHN 1997
TELETUBBIES SAY "EH-OH!" TELETUBBIES 1997
TORN NATALIE IMBRUGLIA 1997
2 BECOME 1 SPICE GIRLS 1996
KILLING ME SOFTLY FUGEES 1996
SPACEMAN BABYLON ZOO 1996
THREE LIONS BADDIEL & SKINNER & LIGHTNING SEEDS 1996
WANNABE SPICE GIRLS 1996
BACK FOR GOOD TAKE THAT 1995
EARTH SONG MICHAEL JACKSON 1995
GANGSTA'S PARADISE COOLIO FT LV 1995
I BELIEVE/UP ON THE ROOF ROBSON & JEROME 1995
MYSTERIOUS GIRL PETER ANDRE FT BUBBLER RANX 1995
UNCHAINED MELODY/(THERE'LL BE
BLUEBIRDS OVER) THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER
ROBSON GREEN & JEROME FLYNN 1995
WONDERWALL OASIS 1995
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU MARIAH CAREY 1994
LOVE IS ALL AROUND WET WET WET 1994
SATURDAY NIGHT WHIGFIELD 1994
THINK TWICE CELINE DION 1994
I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU WHITNEY HOUSTON 1992
(EVERYTHING I DO) I DO IT FOR YOU BRYAN ADAMS 1991

1980s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
RIDE ON TIME BLACK BOX 1989
FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK POGUES FT KIRSTY MACCOLL 1987
THE POWER OF LOVE JENNIFER RUSH 1985
CARELESS WHISPER GEORGE MICHAEL 1984
DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 1984
GHOSTBUSTERS RAY PARKER JR. 1984
I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU STEVIE WONDER 1984
LAST CHRISTMAS/EVERYTHING SHE WANTS WHAM! 1984
TWO TRIBES FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD 1984
BLUE MONDAY NEW ORDER 1983
KARMA CHAMELEON CULTURE CLUB 1983
RELAX FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD 1983
UB40 RED RED WINE 1983
UPTOWN GIRL BILLY JOEL 1983
COME ON EILEEN DEXY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS 1982
EYE OF THE TIGER SURVIVOR 1982
FAME IRENE CARA 1982
THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT TIGHT FIT 1982
DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' JOURNEY 1981
DON'T YOU WANT ME? HUMAN LEAGUE 1981
STAND & DELIVER ADAM AND THE ANTS 1981
TAINTED LOVE SOFT CELL 1981

1970s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL (PART 2) PINK FLOYD 1979
BRIGHT EYES ART GARFUNKEL 1979
HEART OF GLASS BLONDIE 1979
I WILL SURVIVE GLORIA GAYNOR 1979
HIT ME WITH YOUR RHYTHM STICK IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS 1978
MARY'S BOY CHILD/OH MY LORD BONEY M 1978
RIVERS OF BABYLON/BROWN GIRL IN THE RING BONEY M 1978
SUMMER NIGHTS JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN 1978
YMCA VILLAGE PEOPLE 1978
YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN 1978
I FEEL LOVE DONNA SUMMER 1977
MULL OF KINTYRE/GIRLS' SCHOOL WINGS 1977
DANCING QUEEN ABBA 1976
DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA JULIE COVINGTON 1976
DON'T GIVE UP ON US DAVID SOUL 1976
DON'T GO BREAKING MY HEART ELTON JOHN & KIKI DEE 1976
SAVE YOUR KISSES FOR ME BROTHERHOOD OF MAN 1976
UNDER THE MOON OF LOVE SHOWADDYWADDY 1976
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY QUEEN 1975
IMAGINE JOHN LENNON 1975
SAILING ROD STEWART 1975
I LOVE YOU LOVE ME LOVE GARY GLITTER 1973
MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY SLADE 1973
TIE A YELLOW RIBBON ROUND THE OLE OAK TREE DAWN FT TONY ORLANDO 1973
EYE LEVEL THE SIMON PARK ORCHESTRA 1972
LONG HAIRED LOVER FROM LIVERPOOL LITTLE JIMMY OSMOND 1972
I'D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING THE NEW SEEKERS 1971

1960s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
SUGAR SUGAR THE ARCHIES 1969
HEY JUDE THE BEATLES 1968
RELEASE ME ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK 1967
THE LAST WALTZ ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK 1967
GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME TOM JONES 1966
TEARS KEN DODD 1965
THE CARNIVAL IS OVER THE SEEKERS 1965
UNCHAINED MELODY THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS 1965
CAN'T BUY ME LOVE THE BEATLES 1964
I FEEL FINE THE BEATLES 1964
WE CAN WORK IT OUT/DAY TRIPPER THE BEATLES 1964
I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND THE BEATLES 1963
SHE LOVES YOU THE BEATLES 1963
I REMEMBER YOU FRANK IFIELD 1962
THE YOUNG ONES CLIFF RICHARD & THE SHADOWS 1962
STRANGER ON THE SHORE MR ACKER BILK AND HIS PARAMOUNT JAZZ BAND 1961
IT'S NOW OR NEVER ELVIS PRESLEY 1960

1950s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
DIANA PAUL ANKA 1957
MARY'S BOY CHILD HARRY BELAFONTE 1957
(WE'RE GONNA) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS 1955

1940s

TRACK ARTIST YEAR OF RELEASE
WHITE CHRISTMAS BING CROSBY WITH THE KEN DARBY SINGERS
AND JOHN SCOTT TROTTER ORCHESTRA
1942