Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day

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.

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One Response to Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day

  1. RBerman says:

    Were Boyz II Men ever marketed as distinct personalities like the Beatles or the Spice Girls? I couldn’t tell you anything about the guys separately. It’s not even like N’Sync, where at least I could tell Justin and J.C. apart vocally.

    It wouldn’t be the mid-90s if Mariah Carey or Boyz II Men didn’t dominate the charts for months at a time with a single song. So why not let them do it together? These eulogy songs (including Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You’ and Bone Thus ‘N’ Harmony’s “Tha Crossroads”) would become even more prevalent in R&B after the gang-related deaths of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. It seemed that Coolio’s cautionary tale was about to come true for those who lived by singing about the sword.

    Elsewhere in so called “alternative” popland, 1995 saw the beginning of Alanis Morrisette’s angrrry ascent, plus the terrific “Lightning Crashes” from two-hit wonder Live, and other decent releases from Silverchair, Green Day, Better than Ezra, and Soul Asylum. U2 was glad to get grouped as “alternative rock” rather than “music my dad likes” when their Batman soundtrack song “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me” did well on the charts while mocking Madonna.

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