“Don’t Stop Believin'” used to merely be one of Journey‘s many hits, no bigger than “Faithfully,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Open Arms” or “Separate Ways.” That changed in 2003 when it was used prominently in the Charlize Theron movie Monster, picking up a lot of steam two years later when the Chicago White Sox made it their unofficial anthem during the 2005 playoffs. The team even convinced reclusive Journey frontman Steve Perry to join them at a celebration after they won the World Series.
Public interest in the song shot up dramatically again in June of 2007 when the song played during the final minutes of The Sopranos series finale, a scene that’s been analyzed in the years since like nothing since the Zapruder Film. By this point the song had become a mainstay on the iTunes download chart and a favorite at karaoke bars nationwide, rivaled in popularity only by Bon Jovi’s “Living’ On a Prayer.” By the time it appeared on the Glee pilot in 2009 it was well on its way to becoming the most downloaded song on iTunes released in the 20th century.
One of the most glorious moments of the “Don’t Stop Believin'” revival came during the grand finale of the 2010 Rock for the Rainforest benefit at Carnegie Hall. The theme of the second part of the night was 1980s music, so Elton John sang “Like a Virgin,” Sting had fun with “She Drives Me Crazy” and unannounced guest Bruce Springsteen transformed “Cuts Like a Knife” into a James Brown–esque soul number. It all wrapped up with “Don’t Stop Believin’,” a song Sting said he’d never heard until rehearsals. He belted it out anyway alongside Springsteen, Sting, John, Lady Gaga, Debbie Harry and Shirley Bassey. No professional cameras were rolling, but plenty of people busted out their cellphones for the occasion and it went super viral the following day.
Journey saw a huge upswing in concert ticket sales during this time, helped along by the addition of Arnel Pineda to the lineup in 2007. The Filipino singer sounds amazingly like Steve Perry, though fans continue to hope the real deal will make a return one day. He did pop up last year at an Eels concert to sing a few tunes, but he’s since gone off the radar yet again.