It became one of the project's most popular international singles, reaching number one in over 10 countries (including Greece, Norway, Sweden and Ireland), number three on the UK Singles Chart, the Top 5 in Austria, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Switzerland and South Africa. It reached the Top 20 in Italy and France. It was also the project's biggest hit in America, reaching number two on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number six on the U.S Top 40 Mainstream.
The song's melodic and talking vocals in English are provided by Angel X (Andreas Harde), a passive short talking vocal by Sandra ("That's not the beginning of the end, that's the return to yourself, the return to innocence"), while an Amis chant is repeated, which opens the song. That chant was sampled from the Taiwan aboriginal group Ami's "Jubilant Drinking Song" (Sapiliepah a Radiw in Amis) without the singers' permission of that moment. Kuo Ying-nan (born Difang Duana) (郭英男) and Kuo Hsiu-chu (郭秀珠), both Amis, were in a cultural exchange program in Paris in 1988 when their performance of the song was recorded by the Maison des Cultures du Monde and later distributed on CD. The producer of Enigma, Michael Cretu, later obtained the CD and proceeded to sample it. In addition, the drum beat of the song was sampled from the Led Zeppelin song "When the Levee Breaks, played by John Bonham."
The song was used to promote several types of media in the mid-1990s, including film and TV commercials. In autumn 1994, the song was featured in an episode of the TV show My So-Called Life. In 1995, the song was used as the closing theme in Disney's live-action film Man of the House, as well as in the opening and closing of an Outer Limits episode. In 1996, the song was further popularised when it was used in a television advertisement to promote the 1996 Summer Olympics.
In March 1998, Kuo Ying-nan and Kuo Hsiu-chu sued Cretu, Virgin Records, and a number of recording companies for unauthorised usage of their song without credit. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money and all further releases of the song were credited (including royalties) to the Kuos. Cretu has stated that he had been led to believe that the recording was in the public domain, and that he did not intentionally violate the Kuos' copyright.