"One Sweet Day" is a song by American recording artist 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 in late 1995. Lyrically, the song speaks about losing a loved one, and one day seeing them in heaven once again, and how the protagonist misses them with each passing day. Both Carey and Boyz II Men wrote the song about specific people in their lives, however also dedicating the song to the AIDS epidemic that manifested itself globally in 1995.
"One Sweet Day" was positively reviewed by music critics, many of whom called it a standout track from Daydream. The song experienced success in many countries around the world, especially in the United States. It spent sixteen 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. Carey performed "One Sweet Day" alongside Boyz II Men at the 38th Grammy Awards ceremony, and at Princess Diana's memorial service in September 1997. It was also added to the setlist of many of Carey's tours including the Daydream World Tour (1996), the Butterfly World Tour (1998) and select dates in various others.
The music video for "One Sweet Day" featured snippets of Carey and Boyz II Men in the studio recording parts of the song. Carey explained the reasoning behind the simple video, claiming that due to her and Boyz' busy schedules, they feared there wouldn't be enough time to record the video. For this reason, they had a video set made in the studio while they recorded, and used bits of the recording process for the music video. Carey later 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 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 passed away, 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 allot 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."
"One Sweet Day" garnered very positive reviews from 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".
"One Sweet Day" became Carey's tenth chart topping single on the Billboard Hot 100 and Boyz II Men's fourth. The song remaining at the peak for a record-breaking, sixteen 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 thirteen weeks at the top and "I'll Make Love to You" (1994) spending fourteen. 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 Black Eyed Peas's 2009's "I Gotta Feeling" managed to stay at number one for fourteen 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 the only artist ever to have two consecutive singles debut at the top of the chart. 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 twenty-six weeks in the top forty, was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and was ranked number one on Billboard's "Decade-End Charts".
Outside the U.S., "One Sweet Day" reached the top-ten in over thirteen countries and topped the chart in Canada and New Zealand, where it was certified platinum. In Canada, the song debuted on theRPM Singles Chart at number eighty-nine on the RPM issue dated December 04, 1995, and reached the top of the chart on January 22, 1996. It was present on the chart for a total of twenty-four weeks, and ranked twelfth 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.