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Sunday, March 09, 2014

One Sweet Day

Okay, so I've got a lot to cover in today's Sunday Jukebox, so I won't waste any more time here.

Firstly, for those of you who were affected by the time change earlier today in which you set your clocks ahead one whole hour, I just want to say that there are some good points and some bad points for today.

To get the bad out of the way, I realize that some of you might be cranky about the lost hour.  Some of us (myself included) love to get our sleep, and having one hour of the day being taken away is not a good thing.  And, for those of you unlucky enough to have a March 9 birthday, your day will only last for twenty-three hours.  What a gyp!  I think that's worth an extra gift or a larger slice of cake, don't you?

But look at it this way.  The loss of an hour means the beginning of longer days, and longer days mean that we no longer wake up in complete darkness.  And, this means that spring is just around the corner...which is welcome relief for people in my neck of the woods, where we were all subjected to the evil "polar vortex" that made us wonder if winter was ever going to end.

As of right now, we're still wondering...

Secondly, I want to divert your attention to this Facebook page, if only for a moment.  It's a Facebook page for an eleven-year-old boy named Colin, whose mother started up a birthday page for him so that people from all over the world could wish him a very happy birthday.  The story can be found on the page if you click on it.  It will only take a couple of seconds, but if you could go on this page, and just wish Colin a very happy birthday, I think it would be a really great idea.  I already sent my greeting in, and I am hoping that he sees it.  At last count, the page had over two million likes!

Regardless, it's still a cool thing to do.

Okay, so now we're going to go ahead with today's Sunday Jukebox entry, and for this week's entry, we're going to be featuring a song that was recorded by not one, not two, but five different people!  It was a song that spent some time on the charts in two different calendar years, and it currently holds the record of being the longest running #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 charts!

But just how long did this song stay on the top of the charts?  Let's find out, shall we?

ARTIST:  Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
SONG:  One Sweet Day
ALBUM:  Daydream
DATE RELEASED:  November 14, 1995

No, that isn't a typo.  The song really did spent a whopping sixteen weeks at the #1 position between December 2, 1995 and March 16, 1996.  That's a little more than one-third of my whole ninth grade year, people! 

Though, I can see why the song was so popular.  It was recorded by two of the biggest artists of the mid-1990s, and the song subject is one that most everybody can relate to.

Just picture it.  One one side, you had Mariah Carey, who exploded onto the music scene in 1990 with her self-titled debut.  Between 1990 and 1995, she managed to get a total of nine #1 singles with songs like "Vision of Love", "Emotions", "I'll Be There", and "Dreamlover".  By 1995, she was easily considered to be one of the top female vocalists of the decade.

On the other side, you had the equally successful R&B group Boyz II Men, which included band members Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman.  Although the group - which formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and released their debut album in 1991 - didn't have as many #1 hits as Mariah Carey, the ones they did have certainly made an impact on the charts.  Their single "End of the Road" broke records when it lasted a whopping thirteen weeks on the top of the Billboard charts in late 1992.  Two years later, the group would break that record when "I'll Make Love To You" stayed on the pole position for fourteen weeks.

Who knew that when Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men collaborated together in late 1995 that the song would become Mariah's tenth #1 single, and Boyz II Men would break their chart record once more? 

Anyway, the song was written as a collaborative effort between Boyz II Men and Carey, and was inspired by the loss of one of Carey's dearest friends, record producer David Cole.  Cole had passed away in January 1995 due to spinal meningitis brought upon by complications from the AIDS virus, and it got Carey thinking about a way to honour Cole's memory, as well as the lives of all of those who passed away before their time from AIDS and other illnesses.  Carey had the melody and chorus already composed by the time she met up with Boyz II Men to polish the final song, and upon realizing that Boyz II Men had a similar idea for a single, they combined both their ideas to come up with the finished composition for "One Sweet Day".

Mariah Carey spoke about the songwriting experience in an interview with Chris Nickson, who wrote the book "Mariah Carey Revisited:  Her Story" in 1998;

"I wrote the initial idea for 'One Sweet Day' with Walter (Afanasieff), 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] was 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 a lot to do with that. I know some people won't believe it, but we wouldn't make up such a crazy story."

Here's something interesting to note about the music video.  Although the video you see for this song looks professionally done, it's technically not an official video.  Because Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey had both released albums in 1994 and 1995 respectively, and both artists were doing promotional tours for their respective albums at the time, so therefore, the window of opportunity in which both Carey and Boyz II Men would be free was very narrow.  So, as a result, director Larry Jordan was brought onto the soundstage where "One Sweet Day" was being recorded, and a film crew was there to film the whole session.  It was a simple video, but very effective.  Sometimes simplistic really is best.

Now, I've already mentioned that this song currently holds the record for longest time spent at the top of the Billboard charts, with sixteen consecutive weeks.  But did you know that the song also topped the charts in Canada and New Zealand?  And, that it hit the top ten in thirteen different countries overall?  And that the song sold over two million copies overall since it was released in November 1995? 

Now, here's where a little bit of controversy erupts.  It's not major, but it had a lot of people scratching their heads in bewilderment, especially Mariah Carey.  At the 38th Annual Grammy Awards which were held in 1996, the song "One Sweet Day" was performed live, and the song itself was nominated for six awards.  But in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Grammy Awards, the song did not pick up one single award! 

But even so, the song was still a masterpiece in the world of Top 40 music.  It is easily the biggest hit of both Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.  It was performed at the funeral services of Princess Diana in September 1997, and was performed at Mariah's BET Christmas Special in 2001.  And, all seven finalists on American Idol's seventh season performed this song during the season's "Mariah Carey" week. 

But most importantly, the song serves as a perfect single to remember those we lost way too soon.  I know I certainly have a few people in my life who have passed away before they were supposed to, and I am sure that everyone else here has someone that they lost and miss every day of their lives.

Therefore, this post is dedicated to those who left this world...and to all of us in hopes that one day, we'll be able to see them again.

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