Music Video Film School: “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

Usually, OneRepublic tackles subjects that are less than weighty, like how great your life is when you’re famous, or how it’s always too late to apologize for something. However, in the video for “Counting Stars”, they take on religion.

onerepublic counting stars

The band starts out performing in an old, abandoned Chernobyl warehouse, because where else is more hopeless and hellish than the site of the worst power plant disaster in history? It seems like a normal affair for them, playing dirty, godless, unapologetic, secular music while radioactive liquids drip down light bulbs and stuff. But little do they know that, just above their heads, there is a sign of faith in these times of nuclear fallout.

And in Little Do They Know: Part 2, there is a serpent crawling around. If you’ve ever read the first few pages of the Bible, like I’ll say I have for the purposes of this article, you’d know that a serpent tricked Adam and Eve into eating forbidden fruit. These fruit made them look at their bodies and become fat-shamed of themselves. God was like “Dammit,” and he kicked them out of the Garden of Eden. I don’t know who the Garden’s new tenants were. Probably a Jonas brother.

counting stars alligator

In the Bible, the serpent was a regular, garden-variety, talking snake. However, in Chernobyl, the serpent is an American Alligator. This serpent really lacks the speaking ability of the last evil reptile, but he makes up for it in the number of death rolls, the alligator’s preferred method of drowning its prey, it can perform. It also doesn’t really seem to be that bad of a guy. He looks kind of lost actually, and at one point seems to clumsily trip over a door frame. But when you’re dealing with the broad strokes of a cinematic religious metaphor, it’s better just to let Superman fall in a crucifixion pose and hope that everyone watching has passed Second grade. The alligator is a devil serpent.

On the second floor, a group of people are gathered for a service,  but it’s not your regular service. This is the kind of church that has alternative rock groups playing during Youth Group meetings! You can wear a suit on Sunday OR you can dress casually! The preacher is going to make a reference to Macklemore in his sermon because he’s just with it like that. At one point, the preacher heals a woman and she becomes so revitalized that she does the Worm! Let the power of Jesus turn you into a rad, 90’s break dancer, child!

counting stars

The group seems to be having a lot of fun, stomping around and clapping to the rhythm of a OneRepublic song, while the guys downstairs seem a little miserable, as they’re getting covered with dust and being stalked by an alligator. “See how much fun God is?” is what the video is trying to tell you. When you go to church, you can sing and dance. When you don’t, or are a member of OneRepublic, you get hit by tiny wood shards and are followed by the top of the Everglades food chain.

Eventually, the people on the second floor pound their feet so hard that an elderly man falls through the floor and hits the concrete ground. He most certainly shatters half of his rib cage, but it’s all for a good cause, because the members of OneRepublic curiously stare up through the hole. This leads viewers to believe that in the next installment, Counting Stars: Mockingjay, the band is gonna finally join the group on the second floor (the higher floor being a symbol of heaven), and maybe not have to worry about alligators anymore. That would be nice.

And the lead singer is going to  lay down some cardboard, and spin on his head. Oh, glory.


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