First Hit #1: December 2, 1995
In 1995, a duet between Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men is a big deal. Commercially, these are the two artists who owned the charts in the year, and artistically they’re a good fit for each other. The result of their collaboration is surprisingly downbeat, especially coming after Carey’s previous single Fantasy, given that it’s kind of a song for funerals. Here we have a song about how much the singers miss someone who is, without question, very dead, with choruses about meeting the deceased in heaven in the future. It was personal for Carey, with her sister being diagnosed with HIV around the time the song was being written, and it feels very much like the song is a bit of therapy for her. It’s interesting that something personal was selected as the big duet number, but it works, because the extra voices help it hit. There would really be only two ways to do this song, utter restraint or going all in with as much vocal as you can, and since I’m pretty sure Carey doesn’t like restraint it makes sense to go for broke, and bring in some other vocalists.
I’ll admit that I’ve found this to be a bit of treacle in the past, and it’s not a particularly adventurous composition when all is said and done. Even now, I kind of find it predictable with an arrangement that they can only get away with because of what I’m about to praise in the next sentence. But, even my cold, blackened heart can’t deny the power of the chorus, as five uncommonly talented are in perfect harmony. It’s a testament to the power of excellent singing, and when it hits hard, it explains the song’s popularity as well as the popularity of everyone singing it.