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Snow Patrol's best-known hit is a platinum seller... five times over

By Claire McNeilly

Published 18/12/2015

Bestseller: Gary Lightbody, who penned the five million-selling Chasing Cars
Bestseller: Gary Lightbody, who penned the five million-selling Chasing Cars
Sara Ramirez

It is not very often someone from Northern Ireland writes a song that racks up millions of sales worldwide.

But Gary Lightbody can now lay claim to having penned what is undoubtedly the best-selling composition ever by someone from here.

Chasing Cars, the best known song from Lightbody's band Snow Patrol, has now been officially classed as a 5x platinum single - more than nine years after its release.

The haunting, powerful rock ballad's popularity was in no doubt, but, up until this week, it had not been formally certified with the Recording Industry Association of America - the trade organisation that represents the United States recording industry.

The 5x distinction, or five times platinum, confirms a US unit total of at least five million sales. One unit is equal to one paid download or 100 streams.

As Chasing Cars had not been previously certified, it also received 4x platinum, 3x platinum, 2x platinum, platinum and gold certifications.

UK sales bump its total to beyond six million, and when other countries' sales are taken into account, the figure could well top 10 million.

"It's the most pure and open love song that I've ever written," Lightbody, from Bangor, told Rolling Stone magazine in a previous interview.

The 39-year-old, who reportedly wrote the song after sobering up following a wine binge, added that Chasing Cars was about unrequited love - or, rather, his father's description of it.

"He told me I was like a dog chasing a car," said Lightbody, who co-founded Snow Patrol back in 1993. "I'd never catch it and wouldn't know what to do with it if I did.

"There's no knife-in-the-back twist with Chasing Cars. All the other love songs that I've written have a dark edge."

The track was released as the second single from Snow Patrol's fourth studio album, Eyes Open, in June 2006, and initial sales were sluggish.

Then, after being featured in the second season finale of hit US medical drama Grey's Anatomy, it shot up the Billboard charts before peaking at Number 5, one place better than its UK chart zenith.

The 14th best-selling single of 2006, it was nominated for best rock song at the 2007 Grammys, and best British single at that year's Brit Awards.

It also holds the distinction of being the last song ever played live on the BBC's now defunct Top of the Pops, and was voted best song of the Noughties in a 2009 Channel 4 poll.

It has been covered many times, and notable versions include those by The Baseballs, Sara Ramirez and Kate Ceberano.

Chasing Cars became notable as one of the songs that showcased the impact of legal downloads on single sales, selling consistently for nearly a decade after its release.

Snow Patrol's line-up consists of Lightbody (vocals, guitar), Belfast man Nathan Connolly (guitar, backing vocals), Scotland native Paul Wilson (bass guitar, backing vocals), Jonny Quinn, a drummer from Bangor, and Derry man Johnny McDaid (piano, guitar, vocals).

Belfast Telegraph

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