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Ask Billboard: The Republic Of Ryan Tedder

How do Ryan Tedder's hits with OneRepublic compare to those he's written for other acts? And, just how big a pop presence has he become?

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

After reading about the 50th anniversary of Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, I noticed that there are many songs that didn’t hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 but did reach the top spot on AC.


For instance, here are some well-known No. 2 Hot 100 hits that led on AC:

“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley (1962)
“Daniel,” Elton John (1973)
“All Those Years Ago,” George Harrison (1981)
“The Girl Is Mine,” Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney (1982)
“Cherish,” Madonna (1989)
“Can’t Let Go,” Mariah Carey (1992)
“Tears in Heaven,” Eric Clapton (1992)
“How Do I Live,” LeAnn Rimes (1997)
“Beautiful,” Christina Aguilera (2003)
“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum (2010)

Happy 50th, AC chart!


Mackenzie (Mac) Scott
Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Hi Mac,

Thanks. You can find our entire spotlight on the AC chart’s first half-century in the Chart Beat landing page. (And, props to a billboard.biz commenter who noted that the late Bill Gavin, founder of the now-defunct radio and records trade publication the “Gavin Report,” coined the term “adult contemporary” in the ’70s).

How about feting the rest of the songs that, while they fell shy of the Hot 100’s apex, peaking at No. 2, received their due by reigning on AC. The list starts with the very first of the 756 AC No. 1s to-date:

“The Boll Weevil Song,” Brook Benton (1961)
“You Don’t Know Me,” Ray Charles (1962)
“Ramblin’ Rose,” Nat King Cole (1962)
“Puff (The Magic Dragon),” Peter, Paul & Mary (1963)

“Blowin’ in the Wind,” Peter, Paul & Mary (1963)
“Washington Square,” the Village Stompers (1963)
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Hugh Montenegro, His Orchestra and Chorus (1968)
“We’ve Only Just Begun,” Carpenters (1970)
“Rainy Days and Mondays,” Carpenters (1971)
“Dueling Banjos,” Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell (1973)
“Yesterday Once More,” Carpenters (1973)
“When Will I See You Again,” Three Degrees (1974)
“You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” Lou Rawls (1976)
“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” England Dan & John Ford Coley (1976)
“Nobody Does It Better,” Carly Simon (1977)
“Longer,” Dan Fogelberg (1980)
“Shame on the Moon,” Bob Seger (1983)
“All I Need,” Jack Wagner (1985)
“Cherish,” Kool & the Gang (1985)
“Friends and Lovers,” Carl Anderson & Gloria Loring (1986)
“Shattered Dreams,” Johnny Hates Jazz (1988)

“Don’t Know Much,” Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville (1989)
“From a Distance,” Bette Midler (1990)
“Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” Patty Smyth (1992)
“I’ll Remember,” Madonna (1994)
“All I Wanna Do,” Sheryl Crow (1994)
“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” Celine Dion (1996)
“You Were Meant for Me,” Jewel (1997)
“You’re Still the One,” Shania Twain (1998)
“Breathe,” Faith Hill (2000)
“You Sang to Me,” Marc Anthony (2000)
“You Belong With Me,” Taylor Swift (2009)
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Dear Gary,

“Tonight Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae is the fifth Hot 100 top 10 to feature the word “tonight” as the only word in its title.

More interestingly, the word “tonight” has been the only word in the title for top 10s of one-, two- and three-word lengths:

No. 7, 1990, New Kids on the Block
No. 8, 1961, Ferrante & Teicher (an instrumental version of the song from “West Side Story”)
No. 8, 2008, Jonas Brothers

“Tonight Tonight”
No. 9 (to-date), 2011, Hot Chelle Rae

“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”
No. 3, 1987, Genesis

Chart history shows, in fact, that you’re better off not adding words to “tonight” in a song title: in comparison, just three such top 10s have started with “tonight”:

“Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright),” No. 1, 1976, Rod Stewart
“Tonight She Comes,” No. 7, 1986, the Cars
“Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You),” No. 4, 2011, Enrique Iglesias featuring Ludacris & DJ Frank E

Hot Chelle Rae is also the fourth act whose name starts with “Hot” to reach the top 10:

Hot Butter (“Popcorn,” No. 9, 1972)
Hot Chocolate (“Emma,” No. 8, 1975; “You Sexy Thing,” No. 3, 1976; “Every 1’s a Winner,” No. 6, 1979)
Hot (“Angel in Your Arms,” No. 6, 1977)
Hot Chelle Rae (“Tonight Tonight,” No. 9, 2011)

One other group with “hot” in its name has also heated up the top 10: Red Hot Chili Peppers, with “Under the Bridge” (No. 2, 1992); “Scar Tissue” (No. 9, 1999); and, “Dani California” (No. 6, 2006).


Jeff Lerner
Long Island, New York

Thanks Jeff,

As we’re both in New York, nothing better to take our minds off this 100-degree weather than thinking of these ‘hot’ hits!

Perhaps time to go listen to some Coldplay, Ice Cube and Snow …
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

Because I am genetically programmed to watch every music-related reality show, I’ve seen quite a bit of Ryan Tedder in recent months. He’s been a guest on “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Platinum Hit,” which made me think about what a constant presence he’s become in pop music.

Still, it seems like, somehow, he’s also stayed below the radar. With the exception of “Apologize,” OneRepublic (Tedder’s band) has never landed as big a smash hit, even though several of the group’s singles have logged lengthy chart runs. (Granted, the band’s “Good Life” holds at No. 8 on the Hot 100 this week).

With that in mind, I was wondering if you could put Tedder’s achievements as a songwriter and performer in perspective. Could you please provide digital sales figures for the highest-charting OneRepublic singles? Plus, sales figures for the top 10s that Tedder has co-written for other artists?

I’d be interested to see all of these numbers together, to gauge where OneRepublic’s sales fall next to other Tedder-related hits.

And, from your perspective, how would you define Tedder’s role in the music world? Would you agree that he’s kind of a stealth superstar, releasing steady hits of his own but penning blockbusters for other people? Or, would you say he’s just a plain old superstar, full-stop?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts!


Mark Blankenship
New York, New York

Hi Mark,

Great insights.

I’d have to agree that Tedder is a bit of a “stealth superstar,” to borrow your phrase. There are a lot of characters in today’s pop music who make image a major part of their overall presentation – Lady Gaga (disembarking from eggshells), Nicki Minaj (hot pink hair), Katy Perry (quirky “Sesame Street”-offending costumes) – to augment their musical talents.

When thinking of current male pop artists, it’s a much comparatively blander group, isn’t it? Tedder, Jason Derulo, Enrique Iglesias, Bruno Mars and Pitbull don’t seem to be known for as much notable stylistic flare or outrageousness (although perhaps Cee Lo Green does).

Maybe that simply points out that society places more visual focus on women than men, which would seem not to be any new development. (And, with that analysis, I’ve exhausted memories of my sophomore sociology class at Boston University).

Tedder himself apparently agrees that he’s quite content to remain out of the most glaring of spotlights. Per an in-depth interview with popjustice.com last year, he said of being recognized, “It’s a novelty to me – I don’t like it or dislike it.”

He also defines himself first as a songwriter: “You know, the best thing to say is that I’m a writer. If you say ‘I’m a recording artist,’ it comes off as ridiculous, particularly when (people) inevitably don’t know who I am.”

There’s also come confusion in that Tedder is not a solo artist and even OneRepublic’s biggest hit, “Apologize,” was billed as by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic. “My back history is so ridiculously convoluted and impossible to follow that it makes my own head hurt,” said Tedder. “We have spent months explaining that I am not, in fact, Timbaland.”

And, perhaps the main reason Tedder has penned so many hits? When it comes to the writing process, “Melody will always be number one for me.”

“I learned to write in Nashville, which is the epicenter of some of the best songwriting in the world,” he added. “Lyrically and melodically, that city’s known for its songwriting.

“And, thank God for songwriters or there wouldn’t be Frank Sinatra. Or Elvis.”

So, how successful has Tedder been on his own vs. crafting hits for other artists? Here is a look at the digital sales sums, according to Nielsen SoundScan, of all of Tedder’s top 25 Hot 100 hits dating to his arrival in 2007, as well as their chart peaks:

Digital sales to-date, Title, Artist (Hot 100 Peak, Year)
5,076,000, “Apologize,” Timbaland featuring OneRepublic (No. 2, 2007)
4,191,000, “Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis (No. 1, four weeks, 2008)
2,820,000, “Halo,” Beyonce (No. 5, 2009)
2,233,000, “Stop and Stare,” OneRepublic (No. 12, 2008)
2,138,000, “Secrets,” OneRepublic (No. 21, 2010)
1,875,000, “All the Right Moves,” OneRepublic (No. 18, 2010)
1,626,000, “Battlefield,” Jordin Sparks (No. 10, 2009)
1,593,000, “Already Gone,” Kelly Clarkson (No. 13, 2009)
1,515,000, “Love Like This,” Natasha Bedingfield featuring Sean Kingston (No. 11, 2008)
1,217,000, “Good Life,” OneRepublic (No. 8, 2011)

(Tedder also co-wrote “Turning Tables” with Adele. Her version has sold 295,000 downloads and reached No. 63 on the Hot 100); the “Glee” cast’s cover has sold 93,000 and peaked at No. 66. And, while Tedder didn’t write Far*East Movement’s “Rocketeer,” he sings the hook; the song has sold 1,433,000 downloads and climbed to No. 7).

Looking at the numbers above, OneRepublic’s songs hold their own among Tedder’s best-selling compositions, taking four of the top six spots above.

Overall, very impressive. Tedder has clearly joined the discussion of artists who have enjoyed extensive pop success both as an artist in their own rights and as writers for other acts.

Such predecessors include the Bee Gees, primarily in the ’70s, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds in the ’80s and ’90s and R. Kelly in the ’90s and beyond.
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

I thought of more examples of artists who’ve written hits for other artists.

Gloria Estefan wrote “Let’s Get Loud” (a No. 39 Dance/Club Play Songs hit in 2000 that has also received AC airplay) for Jennifer Lopez and “Whenever, Wherever,” a No. 6 Hot 100 hit in 2001 for Shakira.

In turn, Estefan’s once-backup singer Jon Secada wrote “I See Your Smile” for her. The song rose to No. 3 on Adult Contemporary in 1993.

Thanks. I love this topic,

Larry S. Arias

Hi Larry,

Thanks for more great examples.

Secada also co-wrote Ricky Martin’s “She’s All I Ever Had,” which reached No. 4 on AC in 1999.

Going along with those hits and the AC chart’s 50th anniversary, a few more ’90s and ’00s AC top 10s written by one star (or more) and performed by another:

(Performer, Title, AC Peak, Year
Writer or Co-writer)

Roy Orbison, “What Kind of Love,” No. 9, 1992
Rodney Crowell

Eagles, “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” No. 1 (three weeks), 1995
Jackson Browne, Paul Carrack

Rod Stewart, “Leave Virginia Alone,” No. 10, 1995
Tom Petty

Toni Braxton, “I Don’t Want To,” No. 4, 1997
R. Kelly

Kelly Clarkson, “Breakaway,” No. 1 (21 weeks), 2005
Avril Lavigne (and Clarkson, notably, co-wrote her “Miss Independent” with Christina Aguilera)

And, Lifehouse, “You and Me,” No. 1 (nine weeks), 2006; “Whatever It Takes,” No. 10, 2008
Jude Cole

And, a special mention to Abra Moore, best-known for her 1997 No. 23-peaking Adult Pop Songs hit “Four Leaf Clover.” She co-wrote the album cut “You Get Me” for Michelle Branch‘s 2001 major-label debut, “The Spirit Room.”

I saw Branch perform last night aboard the famed battleship the Intrepid, courtesy of AC WWFS (Fresh 102.7). Listeners braved the humidity to hear her in fine form, singing such smashes as “Everywhere,” “All You Wanted” and “Are You Happy Now?”; new single “Loud Music” (up 39-33 this week on Adult Pop Songs); and, standout ballad “For Dear Life,” the latter two songs from her forthcoming first solo album in eight years, “West Coast Time.”

(Branch’s six-year-old daughter Owen danced in front of the stage during the performance, drawing smiles from her singing mom).

Branch even showed off her comedic talents, joking that despite the station’s nickname, the weather was making everyone feel anything but “fresh.”

But, she added, “at least we’re all in the same boat.”