“Wherever I Go” by One Republic was released last Friday and is Ryan Tedder’s latest contribution to pop music. Clocking in at just under 3 minutes, the song outlines a search for love, featuring lyrics such as “Wherever I Go / I’ve been looking for you.” But the song is also a search for the “magic” within hit songwriting itself. Tedder, who is the lead vocalist and songwriter behind One Republic, explains the writing of the single in a JustJared feature: “whenever you write a first single or an album, specifically singles, you’re always looking for a bit of a unicorn. And on this album, we were looking for a unicorn mating with another unicorn, in a magical forest.”
Tedder definitely finds something magical on “Wherever I Go,” which pulls its dramatic bent and jarring falsetto from influence Miike Snow. However, Tedder’s explanation of writing “Wherever I Go” could very well be his mantra for songwriting in general. The lead of One Republic has written and produced hundreds of singles for other artists, and has struck gold—and platinum—discovering “unicorns” all over the place. His band’s own “Counting Stars” and “Apologize” were both 5x platinum singles that were huge radio hits. Let’s take a look at 5 of Tedder’s biggest hits for other artists in the past.
1.) Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love (2007)
“Bleeding Love” was a worldwide smash, bringing Leona Lewis—the winner of the third season of the X Factor—into public view. The song stretches Lewis vocally and drew comparisons to “Halo” in its production and lofty vocal display. The song is Tedder’s greatest hit outside of One Republic, hitting number 1 in over 30 countries, and selling 4.9 million copies in the United States.
2.) Beyoncé – Halo (2008)
The R&B power ballad “Halo” served as a major breakthrough moment for Beyoncé. The song peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and garnered 3.8 million sales in the U.S., allowing the singer to reach her biggest audience yet—and with a slowed-down, emotional ballad that showcased her pipes. Beyoncé and Tedder also worked together on the lead single for Beyoncé in 2013, “XO,” which pushed her music into a new direction.
3.) Ellie Goulding – Burn (2013)
Goulding’s “Burn” remains one of her best sellers today, second only to her first mainstream hit, “Lights.” “Burn” marks one of Tedder’s entrances into indie-pop, with Goulding’s vocals highly supported by and sometimes morphing into the synth-heavy production. The song sold over three million copies in the U.S. and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Check out Tedder’s own backing vocals in the song around the 40 second mark.
4.) Adele – Rumour Has It (2011)
Tedder co-wrote and produced this unusual standout, which has Adele putting her ex’s new beau on trial. The chorus brought out a more playful side to Adele that stood out from the dramatic, piano ballad singles from 21 (“Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone Like You”). Peaking at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Rumour Has It” sold over two million copies in the US. For more of Tedder’s work with Adele, check out “Turning Tables” from 21 and “Remedy” from 25.
5.) Kelly Clarkson – Already Gone (2009)
“Already Gone” was both co-written and produced by Tedder and features drums and a driving strings line that sound right up Tedder’s alley (think of One Republic’s “Secrets” in particular). The song finds Clarkson lamenting the end of a relationship, singing more gingerly than the norm, with her usual rock wail replaced by a melt into her head voice on the lyric “I’m already gone.” The song was certified platinum, selling 1.8 million copies, and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
For more articles on hit songwriting, check out Songwriting Signatures: 3 Hidden Voices in Your Favorite Tracks and The Grammys Interrupted Amy Wadge and Nobody Cared.