"No Air" received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The song topped the singles charts of Australia and New Zealand and reached the top five in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada. Also in the U.S, the song has sold 3,596,000 copies, and Sparks became the first American Idol contestant to reach the three million mark. "No Air" won "Favorite Combined Forces" at the 35th People's Choice Awards, where it was also nominated for "Favorite Pop Song". The song also earned Sparks her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 51st Grammy Awards. Its accompanying music video directed by Chris Robinson won "Best Heartbreak Video" at the 2008 BET Pre-Awards and was also nominated for "Best Female Video" at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. "No Air" was covered by American band, Boyce Avenue and country singer Rissi Palmer in 2008 and also on the television show Glee in 2009.
"No Air" is a pop and R&B song written by James Fauntleroy II, Steven Russell, Eric Griggs, Mike Scala, Harvey Mason, Jr., and Damon Thomas. The song was originally written for a male singer, but after Jordin Sparks heard the song and expressed interest in the song, Mason agreed to give it to Sparks on the condition that they make it an event duet record, and suggested Chris Brown as a singing partner.
Having the chord progression of F♯-E-G♯m-B, the song is written in the key of F# Mixolydian. Its time signature is of common time. Both Sparks' and Brown's vocals range from the note of F♯3 to the note of F♯5. Nick Levine of Digital Spy called the song "an R&B power ballad" and said it makes "full use of her impressive set of pipes." Steve Perkins of BBC Music awarded the song five stars and said "by the time ["No Air"] hits the final stretch, the title actually seems rather prophetic, since Jordin and Chris are yodelling away at the tops of their voices to the extent that you wonder how they're concealing their need to gasp for big lung bucketfuls of precious oxygen every thirty seconds."
In the United States, "No Air" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number thirty-two on the week dated February 23, 2008. After weeks of climbing the chart, the song reached a peak of number three, becoming Sparks' highest charting single to date. It also became her first single to enter the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where it peaked at number four. "No Air" peaked the highest on the Pop Songs airplay chart, where it reached number two. The song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), making Sparks the first American Idol contestant to reach the three million mark. It also became Brown's first single to reach three million. It has sold 3,596,000 copies in the US as of April 2014.
In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number fifty-eight on April 26, 2008, before dropping twenty-seven places to number eighty-five the next week. In its sixth week on the chart, "No Air" reached its peak position of number three. It also reached number three on the Canadian Hot 100. In Australia, the song reached number one in its fifth week on the chart. It held the position for a total of four weeks before losing the position to Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl". The song has since been certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 70,000 units. In New Zealand, "No Air" entered the Top 40 chart at number six on the week dated March 10, 2008. The following week the song peaked at number one on the week dated March 17, 2008 becoming Sparks' first number one single in that country and stayed atop the chart for seven consecutive weeks. the single was certified platinum on the week dated April 14, 2008 after only 6 weeks on the chart. The single spent 19 weeks on the chart and has since been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), for shipments of 30,000 units.
It begins with Sparks playing the piano in her home. Suddenly, she stops playing and makes a phone call on her cell phone, which directs her to an answering machine. The camera cuts to the phone she is presumably calling, which has been left on a counter in a steamy room. Sparks leaves a message, asking Brown to call her when he can. Her silhouetted profile is then seen on the left side against a gray background, as the song begins to play. Sparks then appears at her window drawing a heart shape on the foggy glass window, as she begins to sing the song. Brown then appears in the video wiping a foggy mirror in his bathroom, as he begins to sing his first verse. Brown's silhouetted profile is then seen entering on the right side of the gray background scene, and both their silhouetted profiles face each other. The video then cuts to Brown, who is shown putting on his jacket leaving his home, as he walks through New York City. Sparks then appears standing near the Brooklyn Bridge. She gets into her car and begins driving through the city. Meanwhile, Brown still in the daytime, arrives at Sparks' home. In a climactic sequence Brown confronts Sparks by her piano and the two passionately sing the final chorus to each other. Brown then leaves, and the video ends with their two silhouettes against the gray background, pulling away from each other. The video is also intercut with scenes of Brown singing alone in a recording studio with drums, guitars, and a piano, of which he plays and at the very end when the song's over Sparks is seen sitting on the floor in her house and kneeling her head down in sadness.
"No Air" was covered by American country singer Rissi Palmer, for her self-titled album released on October 7, 2008. Released as the first single from the re-release of the album on May 27, 2008, Palmer's rendition of the song spent 15 weeks on the Hot Country Songs charts, peaking at number 47.