The song has since become regarded as one of the greatest songs of all-time. It was ranked #36 in Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, the highest ranked U2 song. The track was also voted #1 on Q’s “1001 Best Songs Ever” list, VH1 ranked the song #2 in its list of “Greatest Songs of the 90s”, and voters in an April 2006 poll on VH1 named the song as having Britain’s number one lyric – “One life, with each other, sisters, brothers”. The song is currently ranked as the 94th greatest song of all-time, as well as the fourth best song of 1991, by Acclaimed Music. A listener’s poll conducted by the popular Israeli radio station Galgalatz ranked “One” as the best song of the 1990s.
Since its first live appearance in 1992, the song has been played at every concert of U2’s subsequent tours. It has also been played at several benefit concerts, including the 1995 Pavarotti and Friends concert in Modena, the 1997 Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York, the 2003 46664 concert, at Live 8 in 2005, and with Mary J. Blige on Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast. The song took on an even more emotional meaning at a Popmart Tour show at Mexico City in 1997, as featured on PopMart: Live from Mexico City, where the tearful rendition was dedicated to the late Michael Hutchence of INXS. Live performances of the song are also depicted on the concert films Zoo TV: Live from Sydney, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago and U2 3D. Until the second leg of the U2 360 Tour, One was played live in the key of A flat minor, while the recorded version is played a semitone higher.
Mary J Blige:
After being invited to join the group on-stage at a New York concert in 2005, Mary J. Blige performed the track with U2 and received a standing ovation. A recording of the song was later created, with Blige on lead vocals, Bono supplying additional vocals, and the band performing the music. This recording was featured on Mary J. Blige’s multi-platinum album The Breakthrough, released in late 2005. It was released as the album’s second international single in April 2006, having already been featured heavily on BBC Radio 1’s playlist, and it has been a staple record on Capital FM’s playlist since late January 2006. In May 2006, Blige performed the song at the finale of American Idol with finalist Elliott Yamin, ahead of its full release to American radio. It was also used by Fox for its end-of-season montage after game five of the 2006 World Series.
On December 31, 2006, “One” was announced by BBC Radio 1 to be the thirty-fifth highest-selling single of 2006 in the UK. It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in December 2006.
Did you know this?
In late 2006, a Bank of America employee sang “One” with lyrics modified to refer to the Bank of America and MBNA merger. The video subsequently became an Internet phenomenon. Universal Music Group, the copyright owner of the song, posted a cease and desist letter directed at Bank of America in the comments section of Stereogum, one of the blogs that posted the video.