One in a Million (Aaliyah song)

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"One in a Million"
Aaliyah - One in a Million single.jpg
Single by Aaliyah
from the album One in a Million
ReleasedDecember 10, 1996 (1996-12-10)
Format
Recorded1996[1]
Pyramid Studios
(Ithaca, New York)
GenreR&B
Length4:30
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Timbaland
Aaliyah singles chronology
"If Your Girl Only Knew"
(1996)
"One in a Million"
(1996)
"4 Page Letter"
(1997)

"One in a Million" is a song by American singer Aaliyah from her second studio album of the same name. It was written by both Missy Elliot and Timbaland with the latter producing the song. Musically, the song is an R&B club ballad with trip hop and drum and bass influences. Lyrically, it is about Aaliyah professing her love for a guy that she identifies as being her "one in a million." The song was released as the albums third single by Blackground and Atlantic Records on December 10, 1996. Upon its release, it was met with generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising the song's innovative production. In 1998, "One in a Million" was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Single, Female at the twelfth annual Soul Train Music Awards.

In the United States, "One in a Million" performed moderately well, peaking at number 25 on Billboards's Radio Songs chart on the week ending on March 22, 1997. It performed even better on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart, peaking at number one on the week ending on January 4, 1997. On Billboards dance club song charts the song peaked within the top 5 at number 2 on the week ending on March 1, 1997. Internationally the song was released as a double single with "If Your Girl Only Knew" in the UK and the song peaked within the top twenty at number 15 on the UK official charts. Also in the UK the song peaked within the top 5 on the Official UK Dance singles chart at number 5 on May 25, 1997. According to the official charts company "One In A Million" is Aaliyah's sixth best selling single in that region.

Background[edit]

Along with "If Your Girl Only Knew", "One In a Million" was one of the earliest songs that Aaliyah recorded with both Timbaland and Missy Elliott.[2] According to Elliot she wrote the song in a rap-singing style because she didn't know how to write songs for singers because she was a rapper.[3] Elliot explained: “Because I wasn’t really a singer like that, that’s why I wrote like that, because I was a rapper, but I didn’t know how to do a bunch of runs, so every record that I would attack, I would attack it like I’m rap-singing it.”[3] During the earliest stages of the recording process for the song Elliot was scared to play the record for Aaliyah because the songs sound was very different.[3] Once Aaliyah heard the song, she liked it though. In regards to Aaliyah enjoying the song, Elliot said that "she had an ear and she knew what that music made her feel like. She was next level to understand that this is some next level (music). This is not just the sound that’s going on right now — this is a new sound that is being created. This whole movement is new”.[3]

Once the song was completed and sent to radio, radio stations didn't want to play the song at first.[3] Many radio stations made excuses as to why they couldn't play the song by saying "they couldn’t blend it in, they couldn’t mix it in with records before it or after it because the cadence hadn’t been done before,”.[3] According to Blackground Records CEO Jomo Hankerson many radio station program directors had a problem with what they called "cricket sounds" in the song.[4] Hankerson recalled that a program director in Chicago stated that he would not play a record that had crickets in it.[4] When trying to create a solution so that "One In a Million" could get played on the radio, Atlantic Records suggested that the song be remixed and made more radio-friendly.[4] According to Hankerson, he refused to change the song and he took the tapes out the studio so that no one could remix the song.[4] "Atlantic thought we should remix the record and take the triple-beat down to make it more radio-friendly, but we were very bullheaded about it. We heard they were trying to get remixes done, so we took the tapes out the studio! Back in those days before Pro Tools you could really control where the music went. If you had that two-inch reel, you had the record. So we grabbed the two-inch reels and all the tapes so nobody could do any unauthorized remixes and we stuck to our guns on that version of the record".[4]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

"One in a Million" has been described as being an ethereal club ballad with "seductive" funk, electronica, trip hop and drum and bass influences.[5][6][7][8] The song also features "shimmering" synths and crickets within its production.[7] According to Craig Jenkins from Complex the song features "sultry funk accented by hyperactive drum programming and the sounds of birds, crickets and aircraft scattered around the mix".[9] The song "immediately captures your full attention with its pounding bass, quirky synths and chopped vocal samples".[10] Andrew Unterberger from Billboard described the song as "a twitchy, booming slow jam that sounded both lush and minimal, expansive and intimate, alien and sexy".[11] Lyrically the song is about Aaliyah professing her love for a guy that "she views as one in a million and a love she can't resist".[10]"Baby you don't know, what you do to me/Between me and you, I feel a chemistry/Won't let no one come and take your place/Cause the love you give can't be replaced", she sings.[10] According to Bob Waliszewski from Plugged In on the song "Aaliyah communicates love and commitment to her man".[12]

Critical reception[edit]

According to Khal from Complex "One in a Million showcased an unstoppable trio, with Aaliyah being a perfect muse for the futuristic vibes that Missy and Timbaland were creating, and truthfully helped change the game. No longer did your slow songs have to have slow drum beats; you could establish that vibe and throw as many fills and skittery hi-hats into the track and make it something unique instead of the flavor of the week (although being so future means that everyone was in demand)".[13] Georgette Cline from The Boombox praised the song saying "The instrumental itself dripped with sex appeal and Aaliyah's musical stylings only enhanced the vibe. The then 17-year-old struck lyrical gold with, Won't let no one come and take your place/ 'Cause the love you give can't be replaced/ See no one else love me like you do/ That's why I don't mind to spend my life with you."[14] Quentin B. Huff from PopMatters felt that the song represented Aaliyah "better in the slow jam department". He also praised the production of the song saying, "The beat for "One in a Million" is awfully hard for a romantic song, but that's the point, actually: love—or, at least the type of love portrayed in this song—is beautiful but continual and inexorable".[15] Music publication udiscovermusic felt that Aaliyah's "ethereal vocals" was on full display on the song and that overall the song was "the perfect distillation of all the pervasive sounds of the era".[5]

Chart performance[edit]

"One in a Million" was released as the second single in the U.S. and third single overall from the album on December 10, 1996. On May 10, 1997 "One in a Million" peaked within the top 10 on the Billboard dance charts at number 2 on May 10, 1997.[16] On January 4, 1997 the song peaked at number 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts.[17] On the Rhythmic charts the song peaked within the top 5 at number 2 on March 1, 1997.[18] Meanwhile, on March 22, 1997 the song peaked within the top 40 of the radio songs chart at number 25.[19] Internationally the song was released as a double single with "If Your Girl Only Knew" in the UK and the song peaked within the top twenty at number 15 on the UK official charts.[20] The song peaked within the top 5 on the Official UK Dance singles chart on May 25, 1997.[21] While on the Official UK R&B charts the song peaked within the top 5 at number 4 on June 29, 1997.[22] According to the Official Charts Company "One in a Million" is Aaliyah's sixth best selling single in the UK.[23] In the Oceania region the song peaked within the top 20 in New Zealand at number eleven on June 15, 1997.[24]

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

The music video for "One in a Million" was directed by Paul Hunter and it was filmed in Los Angeles.[25] Hunter first met Aaliyah through her uncle while at a meeting in a New York studio, soon after their meeting he was chosen as the director for her music video.[25] According to Hunter while filming the video everything went well and that they remained on schedule.[25] Hunter also recalls that when they were moving to another shooting location Aaliyah rode in the car with the production crew.[25] Hunter stated "She was this young superstar and we need to go to the next location and she just rides over with the crew.[25] He continued saying, She didn't call for a limo or anything. It was really cute. She was just a regular girl in that respect, y'know?".[25]

Synopsis[edit]

The video starts with Aaliyah lying on top of a black Ford Mustang with Missy Elliott and Timbaland sitting inside of it. Soon, several reporters and fans rush to the car. Then the scene switches to a dark room where Aaliyah is sitting as Ginuwine approaches her. The scene bears a striking resemblance to the set of 12 Monkeys. In another scene she is watching him in an off white-colored room via security camera. The scene shifts to a completely white room where Aaliyah is dancing with another male and then to the scene where Ginuwine is looking at the security camera. In the latter scene, Aaliyah enters the room and reveals a tattoo of her name on Ginuwine's arm. Once again, the scene goes back to the dark room, but this time Aaliyah is standing up and performing in a white bodysuit. The video ends with Aaliyah riding in a motorcycle with eighteen-year-old DEALZ, son of Jackie Jackson.

Critical reception[edit]

During its chart run the music video for "One in a Million" received heavy TV airplay on multiple music video count down shows. For the week ending on November 10, 1996 the video made its television debut on BET and The Box.[26] Eventually the video became the eighth most played video on the BET network for the week Ending on February 16, 1997.[27] For the week ending on January 5, 1997 the video made its television debut on MTV.[28] During the course of its run the video became the seventh most played video on MTV for the week ending on February 23, 1997.[29] Also in February 1997 the "One in a Million" video made its television debut on the cable network channel VH1.[30]

In a 1997 article discussing the One in a Million music video MTV felt that Aaliyah was getting "all grown up and steamy in the video".[31] Jordan Simon from Idolator felt that the video for "One In a Million" displayed a striking resemblance to various futuristic sci-fi films such as Aliens, The Fifth Element and The Matrix.[32] The video was also featured on Complex's "The Best R&B Videos of the '90s list".[33]

Live performances[edit]

On February 17, 1997, Aaliyah performed "One in A Million" on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.[34][35] The next day on February 18, 1997, Aaliyah performed the song [36] on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[37] In March 1997, Aaliyah made an appearance at MTV's annual spring break celebration in Panama City, Florida [38] and during MTV spring break Aaliyah performed "One in a Million".[39] Later on that year, on September 20, 1997, Aaliyah performed the song on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That.[40]

Legacy[edit]

In 1998, "One In A Million" was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Single, Female at the 12th annual Soul Train Music Awards.[41] In 2010, singer/songwriter The-Dream recorded a cover of the song,[42] a year later in May 2011 R&B artist Omarion covered the song for his mixtape as a tribute to Aaliyah.[43] Also, Canadian singer/songwriter Keshia Chante who was once set to play as Aaliyah in her biopic movie, did a cover of the song for the late singer's 10 year anniversary as a tribute.[44] On August 25, 2012, hip hop artist Blizzy Ballard and former Aaliyah collaborator Smoke E. Digglera, lead singer of R&B group Playa, released a tribute cover of the song.[45] The song was also sampled by Australian Rapper Iggy Azalea for her song "Backseat Trill $hit".[46] R&B and hip hop artist Tink released a song titled "Million" that samples the song with production done by Timbaland for her upcoming debut album titled, Think Tink. The song was released on May 11, 2015. The music video was released on July 1, 2015 and was directed by Benny Boom.[47]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

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  9. ^ Jenkins, Craig (April 11, 2013). "The 50 Best Timbaland Beats". Complex.
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External links[edit]