One Sweet Day
|"One Sweet Day"|
|Single by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men|
|from the album Daydream|
|Released||November 14, 1995|
|Format||Cassette, CD, CD maxi, 7", 12"|
|Writer(s)||Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff, Nathan Morris, Michael McCary, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris|
|Producer||Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff|
"One Sweet Day" is a song by American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey and R&B group Boyz II Men. The song was written by Carey, Walter Afanasieff and the members of Boyz II Men: Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, Nathan Morris, and Michael McCary. "One Sweet Day" was produced by Carey and Afanasieff for her fifth studio album Daydream, and was released as the album's second single on November 14, 1995 . The song is about losing a loved one, and eventually seeing them, once again, in heaven one day, and how the protagonist took their presence for granted and misses them. Both Carey and Boyz II Men wrote the song about specific people in their lives to include sufferers of the AIDS epidemic so globally prevalent at the time.
"One Sweet Day" was positively reviewed by music critics, many of whom complimented its lyrical content and vocals, as well as calling it a standout track from Daydream. The song experienced success in many countries around the world, especially in the United States. It spent 16 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and is the longest running number one song in US chart history. The song also achieved strong success around the world, topping the charts in Canada and New Zealand, and reaching the top-ten in Australia, Belgium, France, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Additionally, "One Sweet Day" was ranked first in Rolling Stone's reader's poll for the Best Collaboration of All Time.
Carey performed "One Sweet Day" live on several television and award show appearances around the world. She performed it alongside Boyz II Men at the 38th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, held on February 26, 1996. Additionally, the song was performed at Princess Diana's memorial service in September 1997. "One Sweet Day" was part of the set-lists on several of Carey's succeeding tours, making its debut during the album's accompanying set of concerts, the Daydream World Tour and is featured on her compilation albums, Number 1's (1998), Greatest Hits (2001) and The Ballads (2008).
The music video for "One Sweet Day" was filmed in early 1996, and features snippets of Carey and Boyz II Men in and around the studio, and recording the song. Carey explained that due to her and Boyz II Men's busy schedules, they feared there would not be enough time to record a proper video. For this reason, while they wrote and recorded the song, they used video crew footage bits, of the recording process, for the music video. Carey later said that she was content a real music video was never filmed, fearing that no video could truly capture the song's strong lyrical message. Critics felt the video choice was wise, and agreed that the simple concept paid homage to the song's selfless message.
"One Sweet Day" was a song that Carey wrote with the R&B group Boyz II Men. After Carey's friend and past collaborator David Cole died, she began writing and developing a song that would pay homage to him and all the friends and family her fans had lost along the life's journey. Carey had the idea and chorus composed, and after meeting with Boyz II Men, they realized they too had a similar idea in development. Together, using Carey's chorus and idea, as well as the melody they had produced, they wrote and composed the song. The song was produced by Afanasieff, who built on the song's melody and added various grooves and beats. Carey expressed how the song was "meant to be" and how all the pieces fit into place:
"I wrote the initial idea for 'One Sweet Day' with Walter, and I had the chorus...and I stopped and said, 'I really wanna do this with Boyz II Men,' because...obviously I'm a big fan of theirs and I just thought that the work was crying out for them, the vocals that they do, so I put it away and said, 'Who knows if this could ever happen, but I just don't wanna finish this song because I want it to be our song if we ever do it together. [The] whole idea of when you lose people that are close to you, it changes your life and changes your perspective. When they came into the studio, I played them the idea for the song and when [it] finished, they looked at each other, a bit stunned, and told me that Nat "Nathan Morris" had written a song for his road manager who had passed away. It had basically the same lyrics and fitted over the same chord changes. It was really, really weird, we finished the song right then and there. We were all kinda flipped about it ourselves. Fate had a lot to do with that. I know some people won't believe it, but we wouldn't make up such a crazy story."
After they began working on the song, Carey began to incorporate other lyrics into the chorus, trying to make the song relatable to the AIDS epidemic that was in full force in the mid-1990s. Additionally, Carey's sister Allison had recently been diagnosed with HIV, an event that ruined their relationship and tore them apart. Carey has stated that she wrote the song hoping that all her fans that have lost someone could relate to "One Sweet Day" and maybe help ease the pain of the loss. Carey described the song as "[the] whole idea of when you lose people that are close to you, it changes your life and changes our perspective."
A sample of "One Sweet Day," which features organ instrumentation.
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"One Sweet Day" is a down-tempo song, which blends R&B and pop music. It incorporates organ instrumentation and different contemporary grooves and beats into its primary arrangement, adding percussion and synthesizers as well. The song is set in the time signature common time, and is written in the key of A ♭ major. It features a basic chord progression of A♭-D♭-9, while Carey and Boyz II Men's vocals span from the low note of E♭4 to the high note of A♭5, the piano in the piece ranges from D♭2 to A♭5. The song contains choral lyrics written by Carey, who also arranged and co-produced the song alongside Walter Afanasieff. Author Chris Nickson complimented the song's instrumentation and arrangement, calling its use of synthesizers "wise" and "efficient." Additionally, he claimed Afanasieff's production and Carey's vocal and production arrangement helped the song's vocals and lyrical content flow together. The song finishes with the last Chorus and Coda in the key of B Major.
Critical reception 
"One Sweet Day" has been lauded with a universal acclaim by contemporary music critics. In his review for Daydream, Bill Lamb from About.com gave the song praise, calling Carey and Boyz II Men a "perfect vocal match" and wrote "together they turn what could be a rather morose ballad into a truly inspiring and hopeful performance." Allmusic's senior editor, Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the song for its craft and writing, commenting that "[in] "One Sweet Day," a duet with Boyz II Men, Carey appeals to both audiences equally because of the sheer amount of craft and hard work she puts into her albums.
Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly felt the song truly highlighted the album, "[One Sweet Day] radiates a breezy sexiness that Carey, for all the brazen hussiness of her public persona, rarely permits herself to reveal in song. Stephen Holden from The New York Times shared similar sentiments and wrote "On 'One Sweet Day,' the singer joins forces with Boyz II Men, those masters of pleading post-doo-wop vocal harmonies, for a tender eulogy that suggests that the singers have been personally touched by the AIDS crisis." People felt the song was a "stand-out track" and called Carey's vocal performance "bravura belting".
Awards and accolades 
"One Sweet Day" won many prestigious awards throughout 1996. At the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, the song won the award for "Favorite Adult Contemporary Single Female 'One Sweet Day'". "One Sweet Day" also won the award for "Song of the Year" at the BMI Awards and a "Special Award for 16 weeks at #1" at the Billboard Music Awards. Together, Daydream and "One Sweet Day" were nominated for six Grammy Awards at the 38th annual ceremony, however, to Carey's surprise, and to the shock of many critics, they lost all of the nominations. In a poll conducted by Rolling Stone, the song was ranked first for the category of the Best Collaboration of All Time.
Commercial performance 
"One Sweet Day" became Carey's tenth chart topping single on the Billboard Hot 100 and Boyz II Men's fourth. The song remained at the peak for a record-breaking, 16 consecutive weeks, from December 2, 1995 to March 16, 1996. Boyz II Men had previously held this record twice, with "End of the Road" (1992) spending 13 weeks at the top and "I'll Make Love to You" (1994) spending 14. The former song shares this record with Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine", and the latter song shared its record with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You". Carey's 2005 song "We Belong Together" and The Black Eyed Peas's 2009's "I Gotta Feeling" managed to stay at number one for 14 weeks as well. "One Sweet Day" replaced "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" by Whitney Houston at number one, and was replaced by Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me". The single also debuted at number one, making Carey the first artist to have more than one number-one debut, and one of the two artists ever to have two consecutive singles debut at the top of the chart, along with Britney Spears, with "3" (2009) and "Hold It Against Me" (2011). One Sweet Day was the third best-selling single of 1995 in the US, with sales of over 1,300,000, with the second best-selling single being Carey's "Fantasy". The song spent 26 weeks in the top 40, was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and was ranked number one on Billboard's "Decade-End Charts". To date the single sold 2,334,000 physical units.
Outside the U.S., "One Sweet Day" reached the top-ten in over 13 countries and topped the chart in Canada and New Zealand, where it was certified platinum. In Canada, the song debuted on the RPM Singles Chart at number 89 on the RPM issue dated December 4, 1995, and reached the top of the chart on January 22, 1996. It was present on the chart for a total of 24 weeks, and ranked 12th on the RPM Year-end chart for 1996. It reached the top-two in Australia (platinum), The Netherlands; the top-five in France (silver) and Ireland and the top-ten in Belgium, Norway (platinum), Sweden and the United Kingdom (silver). In the UK, it is one of Carey's best-selling singles, with estimated sales of over 255,000.
Music video 
The song's music video was directed by Larry Jordan. When Carey and Boyz II Men got together to record "One Sweet Day", they did not have enough time to re-unite and film a video. For this reason, a filming crew was present during the song's recording, and filmed bits of Carey and Boyz recording the song. In an interview with Fred Bronson, Walter Afanasieff made the following statements regarding the video for "One Sweet Day":
"It was crazy! They had film crews and video guys, while I'm at the board trying to produce. And these guys were running around having a ball, because Mariah and them are laughing and screaming and they're being interviewed. And I'm tapping people on the shoulder. "We've got to get to the microphone!" They're gone in a couple of hours, so I recorded everything they did, praying that it was enough."
After the song's release, Carey expressed her content with the video. She said that she was happy a real music video was never filmed, fearing that no video could truly capture the song's "precious message". Critics agreed, feeling that the song was a perfect match for the video and its message. Aside from the recording sessions, the video also shared bits of Carey and Boyz bonding and sharing their ideas in the studio, where Carey felt they "bonded".
Live performances 
"One Sweet Day" was performed at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards, held on February 28, 1996. During the performance, Carey wore a long black dress and matching sleeveless blouse, while the group wore white jackets and black pants. After the song's bridge, a choir of male and female vocalists took place on the rafters placed over the stage, all wearing white gowns. The song was also performed at the memorial service for Princess Diana in September 1997, where other performers included Elton John. During the service and song recital, Carey wore a conservative long black sheer gown, with long golden curls. Boyz II Men all wore similar matching dark suit and garments. The song became part of Carey's BET Christmas special in 2001, where she sang the song alongside Boyz II Men. During the special, Carey wore a red gown in honor of the show's holiday theme, and featured a long golden hairstyle. One of the male vocalists had already been switched, as one of the group members had already resigned.
Aside from live television appearances, the song was performed on many of Carey's tours. "One Sweet Day" was performed at every show on her Daydream World Tour (1996), where Boyz II Men were featured on a large projection screen. The footage was taken from Carey's filmed concert at Madison Square Garden in late-1995, and was played in sync with Carey's verses. A similar concept was used for her Butterfly World Tour (1998), with the addition of several live back up vocalists joining on stage. Additionally, the song was performed on select dates on her The Adventures of Mimi tour (2006). During the tour's filmed show in Anaheim California, the group joined Carey live on stage and performed the song together. For the segment of the show, Carey wore a long turquoise gown, with several slits and cuts fashioned into the sides. During the Angels Advocate Tour in 2010, Carey performed a snippet of the song in Singapore, with Trey Lorenz filling in for the group's verses. One of the live performances of the song would later make its way to the U.S. CD maxi-single as Track # 5.
Cover versions 
"One Sweet Day" was performed by the seven finalists on the seventh season of American Idol. The performance was taped due to the "Mariah Carey" themed week, where all the competitors sang songs from Carey's repertoire. The song was additionally sung on the fifth season of the UK TV show The X Factor, by the British boy-band JLS. Their performance received praise from all four judges, who commented how it was an "impossibly hard song to sing" because it was a "Mariah song". The song was also performed by John Adeleye during the seventh season The X Factor. The theme of the night was "#1 songs". Shannon Magrane performed the song on the eleventh season of American Idol the week the contestants performed songs from their birth years.
Formats and track listings 
Worldwide Cassette CD single
Japanese CD maxi-single
UK CD maxi-single #1
UK CD maxi-single #2
U.S. CD maxi-single
Credits and personnel 
Credits adapted from the Daydream liner notes.
- Mariah Carey – co-production, songwriting, vocals
- Walter Afanasieff – co-production, songwriting
- Nathan Morris – songwriting, vocals
- Wanya Morris – songwriting, vocals
- Shawn Stockman – songwriting, vocals
- Michael McCary – songwriting, vocals
Peak positions 
Year-end charts 
End-of-decade charts 
Sales and certifications 
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" by Whitney Houston
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
December 2, 1995 – March 16, 1996
"Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion
"Fantasy" by Mariah Carey
|Billboard Pop Songs number-one single
December 9, 1995 - February 17, 1996
"Missing" by Everything but the Girl
"As I Lay Me Down" by Sophie B. Hawkins
|Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
December 30, 1995 - March 23, 1996
"Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" by Whitney Houston
|RPM 100 number-one single
January 22, 1996 - January 29, 1996
"One of Us" by Joan Osborne
"Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio featuring L.V.
|RIANZ (New Zealand) number-one single
December 22, 1995 – January 19, 1996
"How Bizarre" by OMC
See also 
- List of Billboard Hot 100 chart achievements and milestones
- List of Hot 100 number-one singles of 1996 (U.S.)
- Nickson 1998, pp. 140–141
- Nickson 1998, pp. 144
- Shapiro 2001, pp. 93–94
- Nickson 1998, pp. 137–138
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Further reading 
- "One Sweet Day" music video on YouTube / 1995 Sony BMG channel
- "One Sweet Day" music video on YouTube / 1995 Mariah Carey VEVO channel
- "One Sweet Day" at Discogs (list of releases)
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics