It was released simultaneously with "Flying Without Wings" by rival contestant (and idol winner) Ruben Studdard, and became only the eleventh song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to debut at number one on that chart, restricting "Flying Without Wings" to the number-two position.
Although the song seems tailor-made as a potential show-winning song, it was not written specifically for American Idol. Co-writer Braide said in an interview with HitQuarters: "'This Is The Night' was written from the heart ... It was written after 9/11, and there’s a line in it, 'Every kiss is a kiss/you can never get back', and it’s about saying, to whoever you love out there, just appreciate them." American Idol creator Simon Fuller heard the song and said it was perfect for the show.
The double A-side single was RIAA certified platinum on July 15, 2003. Debuting at number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 (on June 17, 2003) and the Hot 100 Single Sales Chart (the eleventh song in the former's history to do so), it was the fastest-selling single since Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" and the best-selling single of 2003, with 948,000 copies sold. It was the first CD single to go platinum since 2002, when Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance" sold a million copies after being released for over a year. The single also topped the charts in New Zealand where it was certified platinum, and went six times platinum in Canada.