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Included on their second album, Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom, "Wishing on a Star" is a slow ballad written by former Undisputed Truth member Billie Rae Calvin and produced by Norman Whitfield. The lyrics concern a woman longing for the return of an ex-lover so that they can resume their relationship. The original version of "Wishing on a Star" was not a big hit in the US, peaking at number 52 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song was a big chart hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number three in March 1978. The parent album, In Full Bloom, was also successful as a whole. The single was re-released as the X Factor's charity single for 2011. The single features JLS and One Direction.
The Cover Girls recorded a hit cover of the song in 1992 off their third album Here It Is. It was the first single featuring new lead singer Michelle Valentine. The band's version surpassed the success of the original, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where the original had failed to chart, and became the 49th biggest single of 1992 in America. While the group had had success in America up to that point, the single was their first single to become a hit when it was released in Europe, peaking at #6 in the Netherlands and at #38 in the UK.
The Cover Girls also recorded a Spanish version of the song. The original version of the song featured Michelle Valentine on lead vocals but the Spanish version featured both Valentine and Evelyn Escalera sharing lead vocals.
American artist Randy Crawford recorded a cover of the song for her 1998 album Every Kind of Mood: Randy, Randi, Randee. The song, produced by Mousse T. like most of the album, was given an uptempo house makeover. Released as the third single off the album in September 1998, it proved to be the most successful, achieving minor chart placings in Europe and becoming a top 20 dance hit in the USA.
"Wishing on a Star" was covered by American singer Beyoncé in 2004, for the CD of her live album Live at Wembley. It was also used to promote the fragrance True Star endorsed by American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger in 2004. An a cappella version of the song was recorded by Knowles for a television campaign. An extended play (EP) album was also released in 2004 to promote the fragrance compromising of two songs – "Wishing on a Star" and "Naïve". Produced by Knowles and Tommy Hilfiger, it was solely available with limited edition purchases of True Star. In 2005, the song was included on the soundtrack of the film Roll Bounce. It was later released for radio airplay as one of three singles from the soundtrack, becoming the second most-added single at urban adult contemporary radio following its release and later peaking at number 28 on the BillboardAdult R&B Airplay chart.
In 2011, "Wishing on a Star" was covered by Nigerian-British singer Seal. It was released as the first UK single taken from his album Soul 2 on November 20, 2011. This interpretation of "Wishing on a Star" was produced by previous collaborator, Trevor Horn.
In her review for Soul 2, Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian expressed, "His voice and interpretive skills are such, though, that most tracks fit him like a glove, to the point where, on Rose Royce's Wishing on a Star, his oak-aged vocal seems a better fit for the remorseful lyric than original singer Gwen Dickey's. He grew up with these 1970s hits, and evidently reveres them, but isn't cowed by them". In his review, Mike Diver of the BBC expressed that "Seal has a voice that can melt icecaps has never been doubted by his detractors – the problems with his material post-Seal (II) went deeper, to a basic songwriting level. Here, freed of the weight of his own emotions, he soars on a sublime Wishing on a Star (which manages to borrow its smoky backing from Sade’s Smooth Operator).
The song was covered by the finalists of the eighth series of The X Factor, also featuring previous contestants JLS and One Direction. Their version was released on November 27, 2011 via digital download, and released as a physical single the following day. All proceeds from the single went to the children's charity organization Together for Short Lives. Finalist Frankie Cocozza does not appear on the radio edit of the song or in the music video, after he was removed from The X Factor prior to the sixth live show. Cocozza's vocals were recorded prior to his exit and only appeared on the single version. The song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart with first-week sales of 98,932 copies.