"Happy" is a song performed by British singer Leona Lewis for her second studio album Echo (2009). It was written by Lewis, Ryan Tedder, Evan Bogart, and produced by Tedder, and it was premiered in the United Kingdom radio on 6 September 2009, and officially released on 15 September 2009, by digital download in the United States, serving as the album's lead single. Lyrically, it talks about a protagonist, that wants to be happy and seize the day.
It received generally positive reviews from music critics, praising the production and, some of them, calling it a "number one song". The single was promoted in the television programmes America's Got Talent, The X Factor, among others, and on the VH1 Divas concert in 2009. The music video was filmed in Cuba, and describes a woman who is in love with her friend. The song debuted at number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 selling nearly 52,000 copies in the US, while in the UK, "Happy", debuted and peaked at number two, being blocked from the top spot by the song "Meet Me Halfway" by The Black Eyed Peas. Moreover, the single reached the top ten in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Japan and Switzerland.
"Happy" was written by Lewis, Ryan Tedder and Evan Bogart, and produced by Tedder for Lewis's second album Echo. The song, which is four minutes and two seconds in length, was recorded immediately after it was written. Lewis commented, "The vocal was totally spontaneous. I sang it as soon as we finished writing. Sometimes it's better not to over-think things." In a message on MySpace, Tedder wrote:
"I honestly feel it is the most beautiful song I've ever been a part of. My goal when I started working on Leona's new album was to '[not]' chase or be influenced by any of her previous hits—or any songs [I]'ve ever done with anyone else—including 'Bleeding Love'. True artists do not look back to previous successes; they look forward to creating new moments and songs the world can connect with in a different way. And that is what Leona has done with 'Happy'. I hope [you] like it as much as we do, and I hope the lyrics hit [you] as hard as they hit me".
Lewis discussed the inspiration for the song in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: "[W]e felt like happiness is something everyone strives to have, and sometimes it's not just about being happy, but if you have obstacles in your life that you have to get over to be happy. And it's just about that striving to get there. [I]t was kind of like looking back at all of the things I've been through, just kind of putting that into the song." The song was released with two B-sides: "Let It Rain" in Europe and Japan, and "Fly Here Now", only in Japan.
"Happy" is a pop and R&Bballad, song written in C major; Lewis' vocal range extends from G3 to C6. It moves at 76 beats per minute and is set in common time. Lewis explained the lyrics and interpretation of "Happy" in an interview with the Associated Press, saying, "It's a contradiction of song because, yes, it's named 'Happy', but the song's kind of dark, a bit sad, sombre. In my songs, I want people to go on a journey, and [to get to] happiness, you go through a lot of pain and sadness to get there sometimes and that's what we wanted to convey on the song." Nick Levine, from Digital Spy, commented about the lyrics that the song talks about a protagonist, that, regardless of what happens, wants to be happy, while the message of the song is "seize the day". According to Gordon Smart of The Sun, the song is about a relationship breakup and features "distorted drums" and "groaning keyboards".
"Happy" received general acclaim from music critics. It has been described as "an amazing song" by Rick Krim, the executive producer of VH1 Divas, while a reviewer for music website Popjustice said, "In short: the Leona Lewis single is above average. A brilliant way to open the second album campaign and a proper world class piece of pop tuneage which doesn't have quite all the indecipherable mysterious magic of "Bleeding Love" but still boasts more than 97% of other pop tunes". Nick Levine of Digital Spy favoured the song, saying, "Leona delivers it beautifully. In fact, her vocal run from 2:39 to 2:44 could be the most incredible five seconds of singing we've heard all year. [...] It's a really strong lead single that sounds like a number one, and a typically muscular production from Tedder, but above all it's a powerful and moving song".Ryan Seacrest has stated on his American Top 40 radio show that it is "going to be a number one song".
Gordon Smart from British tabloid newspaper The Sun said, "It's welcome evidence that Leona can take her place alongside the planet's premier divas. [...] The subject matter of Happy is actually not very happy, but the vocal pyrotechnics on display more than make up for that". Jennifer Adeeko from the organisation behind the MOBO Awards said, "Within the song Lewis is able to show how spectacular her vocal range is, with her softer sounding vocals to her more powerful, belting vocals. [...] Bound to get a few guys flustered if their girlfriends listen to the track and follow the lyrics; we predict that this is going to be one of her biggest track[s] to date".Entertainment Weekly critic Michael Slezak wrote that "while "Happy" is a solidly written, professionally produced song with a Velcro-ey hook, it has the emotional resonance of a so-so, big-budget romantic comedy. [...] In the hands of a singer who could achieve both technical perfection and emotional depth, 'Happy' might've been my early autumn jam. But delivered in Lewis's lovely-but-vacant style, I'm gonna have to rifle through my iPod for a more substantial diva anthem".
On 10 November 2009, after two days of sales in the UK, "Happy" had sold 36,000 copies. By 11 November the song had sold 49,000 copies, outselling its nearest rival, The Black Eyed Peas's "Meet Me Halfway", by 5,000 copies; however, on 13 November it was confirmed that "Meet Me Halfway" was outselling "Happy". "Happy" entered the UK chart at number two, marking Lewis's sixth consecutive top five single in the UK. On 7 January 2010 the song was certified Silver in the UK. "Happy" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 50, with sales of almost 52,000 digital downloads, Later, the single managed to reach the number 31. Also, in the same week it debuted at the position 22 on the Hot Digital Songs chart, the Hot Gospel Songs at number 26, and at the number 15 in the Canadian Hot 100, where it was the highest debut of the week. In January, it was certified Gold in Canada. The song made its first European chart appearance when it debuted at 25 in Sweden on 2 October 2009, peaking at number 11 the following week. The song entered the Australian ARIA Singles Chart at number 44 before dropping out of the top 50 the following week, it then re-entered back at number 44 one month later and so far climbed to number 26. It also charted in New Zealand at 35, and in the Japan Hot 100 "Happy" peaked at number seven.
Throughout the music video Lewis is wearing a bride dress. At the end of the video, the man whom she fell in love with is showing the woman he really married.
The video for "Happy" was filmed in Cuba and directed by Jake Nava on 29 September 2009. It premiered on UK music channel The Box on 17 October 2009. At the start of the video, Lewis is shown smiling at a wedding. In the next scenes, she meets a man and, eventually, they become friends, but she starts falling in love with him. Throughout the video, it shows how Lewis is getting ready for the wedding day. The wedding proceeds and it is revealed that he marries a different woman. At the end she is left smiling, dressed in her white bridesmaid's outfit, watching the happy couple dance and trying to be happy for them.