Doug Robb wrote Hoobastank's crossover smash "The Reason," but it's hard for him to provide one for why the song is so popular.
"If anybody knew why, then everybody would be [writing hit songs]," the band's frontman said. "For one reason or another, it's connected with people. People come up to me and say, 'I feel like you're sitting right next to me and you picked my brain.' Or 'It's everything I'm going through.' "
The title track from the band's sophomore album has become an anthem for second chances. After Robb admits in the opening line that he's "not a perfect person," he reveals the motive for his self-improvement in the chorus: "I've found a reason for me/ To change who I used to be/ A reason to start over new/ And the reason is you."
So universally acknowledged is the theme, the mid-tempo tune sits in the top five in as many different radio formats, according to trade magazine Radio & Records' charts. At "active rock" stations it's #4 alongside songs by Shinedown and Godsmack, and at contemporary pop stations it's #1, ahead of singles by Beyoncé, Mario Winans and Usher. The song's popularity pushed the album into the top 20 for the first time in April, four months after its release. Next week The Reason will sit at #6 on the albums chart with more than 1.1 million copies sold to date.
"The Reason" also earned a place in pop-culture history on grounds other than chart success: The emotional ballad was featured in the final episode of "Friends." While more than 52 million people tuned in to watch, Robb wasn't one of them.
"Yeah, I heard about that," he said. "I got more calls and e-mails saying, 'Oh my God, your song was on "Friends!" ' than anything else we've ever done. I got more calls about that then when we got signed or when we went platinum It's all 'Friends,' 'Friends,' 'Friends,' so I kind of see where people's priorities are."
"Not that I'm anti-'Friends,' " he clarified. "But c'mon, it's just a TV show. I would be more stoked if it was on the final episode of 'The Simpsons.' "
While Hoobastank had previously said "Just One" would be the album's next single, Robb claimed "Same Direction" would be the song to follow "The Reason," though nobody's counting on it to live up to its predecessor.
"The success of 'The Reason' hasn't changed my expectations so that every song has got to be huge now," Robb explained. "I understand that certain songs do certain things. 'Same Direction' isn't going to cross over; it's a rock song. I know what it's capable of doing, and my expectations are just that. Hopefully 'The Reason' has opened some doors for us [at different radio stations] so that we can get it up there. Obviously we're going to shoot for #1 at rock radio, and we'll take it from there."