OneRepublic Songs: "Counting Stars" Meaning and Lyrics (2023)

The author has a passion for music and interpreting lyrics.

OneRepublic Songs: "Counting Stars" Meaning and Lyrics (1)

OneRepublic's "Counting Stars" lyrics have meaning

Sometimes the path to our dreams seems like an impossible journey - a journey that takes forever and presents a million obstacles. What's worse than feeling like your dreams are unattainable? You may get lost or get distracted by your feet or your heart on the journey. Counting Stars describes how addiction can overwhelm someone and their life can become a torrent of failed hopes and dreams.

"Counting Stars": Themes of disappointment, failure and possibly addiction

As some rumors suggest, OneRepublic may have intended "Counting Stars" to describe a couple desperate to survive or stay afloat financially. It is true that "counting stars" could describe a man's desire to provide for his love, achieve all of his personal goals/dreams, and gain enough wealth to be able to relax and "count stars" instead of fighting to thrive.

However, it is more likely that Counting Stars is describing the struggle of a substance abuse addict who fails to stop using such substances for his loved one and drives his loved one away as a result of his failure.

"Counting Stars" is a song about promises of better things, whether it's getting rich or quitting drugs. However, the lack of sleep described by OneRepublic in this song suggests that all of these promises are not being kept or fulfilled; Either bad thoughts about not being able to provide for his significant other or not stopping doing drugs for his significant other keep this character up at night.

With these suggested themes in mind, the lyrics of "Counting Stars" suggest an underlying theme of disappointment, failure, and even regret. It's possible that "Counting Stars" is how the individual describes how they come to terms with the grim reality of their situation: a drug addiction (which separates them from their loved one) or poverty (making them feel less fit feel provider for their loved one). .

As anyone can understand, the struggle for success, whether financial, mental, physical or emotional, is never a dream come true.

OneRepublic Songs: "Counting Stars" Meaning and Lyrics (2)

Analysis of the lyrics and music

"Lately I've been losing sleep dreaming of the things we could be," surely says it all. The individual who describes "Counting Stars" is torn at not being able to achieve their goals in life and keep their promises to their loved one. Hence the advice in Counting Stars to pray hard for dreams of wealth or quitting drug use to come true.

Counting Stars is about longing for a better life, but knowing that all attempts to change one's life would be in vain. Though there may be many interpretations of "Counting Stars," lyrics such as "make that money, watch it burn, sink in the river the lesson's I Learned" suggest OneRepublic was attempting to describe the life of an addict caught between his torn is just love and his favorite drug(s).

OneRepublic Songs: "Counting Stars" Meaning and Lyrics (3)

The lyrics, "There are signs in my face, seek it and you will find it," suggests that the struggling person believes there are obvious signs that their drug addiction is harmful and the signs that they need to stop are everywhere , but the person is unable/refuses to see the obvious signs.

The melancholy melody of the song's introduction hints at the person's disappointment at the bleak direction of their life. "Said we don't count dollars anymore, we count stars," suggests the yet-to-be-received promise that one day the individual will quit their addiction to regain the trust of their loved one.

This concept of breaking promises is also underscored by the lyrics, "Hope is a four-letter word, make the money, watch it burn," suggesting that both party members are aware that all they can hope for is in vain exchange. Again, these lyrics build credibility for the fact that the song is about finding an opportunity to discover your dreams, and in this case the dream is about making a positive change for yourself and your love.

OneRepublic Songs: "Counting Stars" Meaning and Lyrics (4)

"I feel so wrong about doing the wrong thing" and "I feel so wrong about doing the right thing" suggest that the individual knows that their actions will eventually have harsh consequences that they must deal with, but he can't suppress her addiction.

"I could lie, could lie, could lie, anything that kills me makes me feel alive" suggests the idea that the person is trying to justify their struggle with drugs by "getting clean" with their loved one ' and it admits their addiction as an excuse to keep going.

Likewise, "And I don't think the world will be sold just by doing as we're told" is also an excuse for continuing to use drugs; Basically, this text proposes the excuse "everyone else is doing it" as a justification for doing it. Both lyrics emphasize the individual's struggle, as addiction has the ability to bring out the worst qualities in a person, even when the worst was never the individual's intention. Perhaps the person has been hiding their feelings from their loved one for a very long time as they struggled to quietly overcome their addiction, and only now has the person finally sought an outside force to intervene.

Given these lyrics, although the song describes the person's desire to quit drugs, the melancholic lyrics of "Counting Stars" suggest that the person may have lost hope or sight of them. Hence the lyrical allusion to "I been believein' hard" which is simply an expression of "I desperately need help". Addiction can consume someone and make them count every dollar they have to their name to feed the addiction, only to increase the desire for an everlasting supply.

Unfortunately, most of the time, once an addict, always an addict. As a result, addictions usually require direct outside intervention to stifle the insanity, as suggested by the lyrics to Counting Stars, which describe a desperate cry for help after a long struggle. In other words, sometimes when you're knee-deep in failure and the consequences, the only one who can save you is someone else.

"Counting Stars" Official Lyrics

I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
But baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We will count stars
Yes, we will count stars

[Verse 1]
i see this life
Like a swinging vine
swing my heart over the line
Signs flashed in my face
Seek it and you will find

Old, but I'm not that old
Young, but I'm not that bald
And I don't think the world is sold
I only do what we are told

I feel something so right
do the wrong thing
I feel something so wrong
Do the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
Baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We will count stars
I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
Baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We're gonna, we're gonna count stars

[Verse 2]
i feel the love
And I can feel it burn
Down that river every bend
Hope is a four letter word
Earn this money
Watch it burn

Old, but I'm not that old
Young, but I'm not that bald
And I don't think the world is sold
I only do what we are told

And I feel something so wrong
Do the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Anything that puts me down makes me want to fly

I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
Baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We will count stars
I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
Baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We're gonna, we're gonna count stars

[Bridge 4x:]
take the money
Watch it burn
sink in the river
The lessons I learned

(Video) OneRepublic - Counting Stars (Official Music Video)

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
Baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We will count stars
I've been losing sleep lately
Dreaming of the things that we could be
Baby I've been, I've been praying hard
Said to stop counting dollars
We're gonna, we're gonna count stars

[4 more times:]
take the money
Watch it burn
sink in the river
The lessons I learned


Uffam 11. May 2020:

I love this song it's amazing.

Yes manam 24.08.2019:

Hello, I am doing this song for an English assignment, is this a good website

Tayloron March 14, 2019:

I love counting stars from them

songwriter loveam 28.09.2018:

It feels like counting the stars isn't the fight. They are safe so they can enjoy life and the greater purpose that they feel is theirs. Money is not an issue. It's a clear acknowledgment that they did something wrong to enjoy that happiness, but it felt so right because they didn't have to fight. They can focus their minds on simple things like each other. That the world is theirs and material things are not a dream but an everyday thing that they now take for granted. For how they attain the money sinners was the lesson for others not to be greedy for money. Take the money and watch it burn up, because they spend it quickly, but they might lose their soul. The whole world is not sold with tons of money, but the world forces us to need money for everything. They don't want many going to hell or leading to sin. You need enough to live comfortably.

royal mountainon June 28, 2018:

You have to understand his background to understand the song. He grew up in the church.

Counting Stars is a direct reference to Abraham lying awake at night counting stars. The symbolism in this song and video is very specific and very direct.

The song also directly parallels Romans 7... I don't do the things I should do and I find myself wanting to do the bad things I know I shouldn't do. Still, I fight the feelings inside me to try the good things I should, and there's a war going on in my body to see what's really right. Meanwhile, the devil lurks around, ready to deceive you.

The song is about not trusting in the things of the world - money but in the promises of God (the story of Abraham, counting the stars [read the story if you don't know it] and struggling to Keeping God's laws, which is our side of partnership with God and His promises....

Gypsy Torahon July 20, 2017:

There is no ultimate meaning other than what resonates with each individual and their experiences of the world. This is the wonder and beauty of music, poetry - ART. How someone interprets their own emotional world is a subjective reality. Asking us to delve into our emotions and seek fluidity, healing, and purification is "primitive" in human conditioning.

Nobodyam 16.08.2016:

I think the true meaning of the song is to poke fun at a young woman who is an aspiring writer who has been ripped off and when the guy who ripped her is waiting for her to lose consciousness losing out on what's going on around her so he can take her somewhere and attacking her, she starts spewing out all the really creative and random ideas she's had for books and movies. He and his rich buddies spend the next almost ten years publicly mocking her and reminding her of that horrible night, using her ideas to get richer so she can't even listen to the radio or watch TV, with nothing taken from her she was shoved in her face. He got away with raping her by claiming she was a drug addict. Just my opinion.

Lucyon June 16, 2016:

Ryan Tedder, the guy who wrote this song in his own words, said during an interview that his songs had meaning for a republic for the Christian faith. He said he copied u2. I guess the author of ut was also a Christian. But anyway, the alligator represents the Satan of the Bible. The only thing I did wrong in the last paragraph was counting stars, which represents wrong and right. But this song is a secular song with a hidden allegorical meaning about his faith as a Christian and that came out of the songwriter's mouth during an interview. This is not my opinion.

Lucyon June 14, 2016:

I'm a Christian and so is the guy who wrote this song. He grew up in a Christian church. So I know exactly what he's saying. It's an allegory. Basically he is saying that we all follow the herd. We are influenced by the media, society and rumors. (I only do what I'm told) Affected by wealth and keeping up with the Joneses (Take the money and watch it burn) Love and hope is a 4 letter word (Humanity is more important than wealth) That Doing right feels right, doing wrong feels right (If he tries to do right, society and society's beliefs will punish him) Seek and you will find. Seek what is truly true, do not follow the herd or society. Signs in his face (Christians do not see with their eyes but by faith. Listen to your parents, grandparents, the Bible you were taught, listen to the wise lessons you have been taught throughout your life. Count stars (blessings . Joseph in the Bible saw stars in dreams.) Line (Basically the vine symbolizes religion, church, beliefs (basically his heart is forced to believe like everyone else. It swings over the line. Basically he can't Believe God. His heart crosses the line of what he really feels. What kills me makes me feel alive. Wanting to be taken to a higher level or rise.) If you see the church setting, the guy has a box in the Hand. That's not a Bible, that's a box. So it's definitely not a Christian setting. but it's almost Pentecostal. What he's basically saying are heretical beliefs that influence people. The alligator symbolized de n devil. In the Bible. the devil becomes as a dragon, serpent, serpent,

Johnny Boyon July 22, 2015:

Old but not that old, young but not that brave, yes, middle-aged - typically mid/late 30s to 60s (i.e. 40s and 50s or close), reflecting on the lessons learned, "losing sleep and from the dreaming of things we could be', 'stop counting dollars, we'll count stars' - dreams, dreams that aren't fulfilled at a younger age, which is why in middle age when they realize what life was like, feel so wrong about doing the right thing but it's so not fun before and how different life would have been if they were so much younger.

Danny Cabanissfrom Shawnee, Oklahoma on July 20, 2015:

Brilliant writing! I'm a high school English teacher who uses music videos almost every day. My colleague and I used this song and compared it to Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. You've given me more food for thought. Thank you very much!

Rongsenon March 27, 2015:

Ryan is an incredible writer. His songs can be viewed from many different perspectives. So it depends on how you get inspired! ;-)

Herrzebraon March 22, 2015:

if you take the song literally... he wants a better world but not for us... for the illuminati... there is a depopulation agenda like on illuminati maps... blinking signs. eye, fingers and more counting dollars...literal death of the as we are told...we are the secret Illuminati falls through floor alligators --illuminati card game...the card is tape is out.....unfortunately it's a catchy song but i have a bad feeling counting stars has something to do with sleeping all the time

gdfgdfon March 22, 2015:


(Video) OneRepublic - Counting Stars (One Night in Malibu)

Monfiam 17.09.2014:

Song goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong

Ismailam 17.09.2014:

Song gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

fakedam 25. May 2014:

I think this song is about a guy trying to make his life (his life and his wife's) better or happier, but then gets distracted by drug use. You can focus more on the financial struggles or on the drug addiction, but I would just interpret it as it is.

Let's not overanalyze and just listen to the words.

"Lately I've, I've lost sleep,

Dreaming of the things we could be.”

~ Motivated by her dream of being rich, having a better life or just being happy, he worked so hard until he lost sleep, but it's still not enough

"But baby I was, I was praying hard.

Said to stop counting dollars."

~ He literally prays hard, out of desperation, as overwork isn't enough for them to be at a point where they don't have to worry about money (debts, expenses, bills, etc.)

"We will count stars.

Yes, we will count stars"

~It's like a confirmation or that he states it as a fact that they will definitely have a better life.

"I see this life

Like a swinging vine.”

~You have to push yourself up to swing a vine. So just like in life, when you're on the ground, you have to make an effort to push yourself up. However, the word "swing" implies that there are always changes in our lives. We can be happy/rich/high one time or sad/poor/down the next.

"Swing my heart over the line

Signs flashing on my faces

Seek it and you will find"

~Make me feel like I have something to be happy about. Good things happen to me too. I just need to know where to look and I will find it (refers to the things that make him happy).

"Old, but I'm not that old

Young but I'm not that bald"

~I've aged, but I'm not frail or senile. I'm still young, but I'm not confident/aggressive/brave.

"And I don't think the world is sold.

I only do what we are told.”

~The word "sold" implies that something is being bought. Hence he says that not everything (like happiness) can be bought. But in the second line, "I only do what we're told" means he's bought or used something (e.g., drugs) that lets him experience a touch of happiness, and happiness is something he wants to achieve .

"I feel something so right

But do the wrong thing

I feel something so wrong

But do the right thing"

~ Using drugs gives him a taste of perfect happiness, so he thinks it's right, but in the eyes of other people (the norms) it's seen as wrong.

"I could lie, could lie, could lie"

(Video) OneRepublic - Counting Stars (Lyrics)

"Everything that kills me makes me feel alive"

~He's confused about this and thinking how something (drugs) can destroy him if it makes him feel better.

"I feel the love

And I feel it burn"

“At every turn down that river

Hope is a four letter word"

~People who love him show concern, maybe urging him to stop using drugs, but then “down the river” – that can mean almost everyone in the area they live uses drugs. And hope is the only thing they could easily do.

“Earn this money

watch it burn"

~He might think that people work so hard for money, but it could easily be spent.

Anything that drowns me makes me want to fly

“Anything that stresses, hinders, or binds him (like laws, rules, responsibilities, or the obligation to fulfill a promise to give him and his wife a better life) makes him want to break free.

“Take the money and watch it burn

Let the lessons I've learned go with the flow.”

~rephrase: The lessons I've learned are flowing with the flow. He ignored what people told him or didn't learn from a lesson in drug use because he doesn't see it as a mistake.

HAam 06. May 2014:

This is my favorite song because it's my favorite band.

Benni the Hinnam 03. May 2014:

I definitely think there are addictive innuendos in this video. However, I believe the meaning of this video is deception. At least the middle-aged person in this video. The song can be interpreted in many ways.

If you look at the context of the video, it's set in a kind of "faith healer" setting. The thing about faith healers is that they give you hope when you don't have it in exchange for reality. This is why delusion is so blissful, addictive, and alluring (like a drug).

The person the song represents is likely

1. On the poor side, so "counting dollars". Think Penny Pinch and worry about every dollar.

2. Middle Age. "Old but not so old, young but not so brave". Teenagers and young adults tend to be brave as they have more lives ahead of them. Middle ages are old but not THAT old.

3. The person has not had a good life. So "let's dream of all the things we can be"

4. The person is in a middle-aged rut. "Lately I've been... praying/losing sleep a lot" Think/hope/pray that they can get out of this rut. You are not looking for a "realistic" level, but a desperate fight against life.

5. "Floating the lessons I've learned," which basically means they give up their wisdom, experience, money, and knowledge for a "quick fix" that the faith healer can give them.

So they sell their logic and attend an inspirational faith healing session. It's all fun, they forget about themselves (that's kind of like a drug rush, for everyone who says it's about drugs) and they become empowered. But at the end of the song, reality hits and after they've "burned" all their money and logic, reality collapses on them. The guy literally falls through a hole.

I believe the alligator is there to represent the reptilian brain, but I'm not sure. The reptilian brain can be compulsive and I believe its primary function is to protect you, but it can be "wrong". For example, if you see a hose and think it's a snake, so deception.

Kcam 28. April 2014:

Sounds to me like he sold his soul to the devil and now he's on top no more counting dollars now they're counting stars. The struggle to be a star but if you don't sell your soul you're nobody in the music industry. He knows it's wrong, but it feels right. That the price famous people have to pay to be rich and famous. They become puppets.

Edgaron March 19, 2014:

This song reminds me of a tough time I went through. I am stagnant in my life and my goals and this song reminds me of what can be and to let go of what seems "right" and do the "wrong". I see the meaning of the song as intended... But I also know what it means to me.

Lucianaon March 13, 2014:

Well, the truth is that the lyrics have many meanings, it depends on the person, everyone chooses their definition, because you can change the words to another, adapt to the context and be metaphorical, I said before, the lyrics hang from everyone.

anonon March 10, 2014:

(Video) OneRepublic - Counting Stars (Vevo Presents: Live at Festhalle, Frankfurt)

I agree with Void. "I don't believe the world is being sold, I'm just doing as we're told," sounds to me like someone who hopes the world can be a better place under all the crap social norms have foisted on it. "I feel something so right to do the wrong thing, I feel something so wrong to do the right thing," sounds like a person struggling with what the world calls "right." , always seems to be the "wrong" thing. On the other hand, everyone can have their own interpretation and that's one of the things I love about music in general.

Emptyon March 04, 2014:

For me Anarchism Song!

"Take the money

Watch it burn

sink in the river

The Lessons I Learned"

world without money

"I feel something so right

do the wrong thing

I feel something so wrong

Do the right thing"

A fight against social norms

anonymouson March 03, 2014:

I love this song

Devonon January 29, 2014:

love this song

christinaon January 17, 2014:

I think this song means there's a man who's in love with a woman but he's married and when he's with her it feels so right to do the wrong thing. He's a man of God so he can't leave his wife so it feels so wrong to stay doing the right thing. Where he is he struggles with money, but when he is with his love money is not an issue. You would be happy just counting stars. He loses sleep and dreams of the life he could have.

hope of lighton December 23, 2013:

This song is as deep and meaningful as any other song this year, most of the songs are a bunch of crap which doesn't mean anything you can say they put a lot of thought into it

Zack loveon December 20, 2013:

I found this hub very useful because I was interested in the meaning of this song.

michon December 17, 2013:

I think these songs can mean many things to many people, it just depends on where you are in their life.

Johnon December 12, 2013:

I rather interpret it as a man having to choose between keeping a well-paying job and distancing himself from his lover. The only way to find happiness and love is with the uncertainty of living a life with a low-paying job.

Jodiam 23.11.2013:

I think whether you're in love young or addicted to drugs, the song will still make you feel better about yourself. I'm a recovering drug addict. For me, the song is about overcoming addiction. And that you don't need drugs to feel good. watch the video It doesn't show a man loving a woman. It shows people in a room like a recovery meeting. And when they hear the song, they feel better and start dancing. I know it always makes me feel better :-) Great song, love it

LOVEVOtmam 07.11.2013:

I love this song approved by LOVEVO

Kellyon October 14, 2013:

I think the real meaning of star counting is in this guy who loves a girl but the parents don't approve of her so he's trying to tell her not to care, that they can do what they think is right , even if it seems wrong.

The first line reads: Lately I've been losing sleep dreaming of the things we could be. He tries to say that he can't sleep at night because he has fallen in love with her and wants them to stay together. then line 2 says but baby i was i been praying hard said stop counting dollars well count stars here he tells her he hopes she stays with him and they dont have to worry about money, but have fun.


1. Timbaland - Apologize ft. OneRepublic
2. OneRepublic - Stop And Stare (Official Music Video)
3. OneRepublic - Counting Stars (Lyrics)
(Taj Tracks)
4. OneRepublic - Counting Stars (Pinkpop)
5. OneRepublic - Counting Stars [Lyrics]
6. OneRepublic - I Ain’t Worried (From “Top Gun: Maverick”) [Official Music Video]


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