" is a song originally recorded by Badfinger
for their album No Dice
(1970), and written by Pete Ham
and Tom Evans
and produced by Geoff Emerick
. Its verse was composed by Ham, originally titled "If It's Love", but had lacked a strong chorus. Evans had written a chorus without a strong verse, so the duo fused the two sections together. The protagonist
of this ballad
lets a lover know that they "can't live if living is without you". Badfinger's recording of the song, which is more brusque than its successors' versions, languished as an obscure album track until it was noticed a year later by Harry Nilsson
Harry Nilsson version
, at the time best known for his hit "Everybody's Talkin'
" and for composing such hits as Three Dog Night
", heard Badfinger's recording of "Without You" at a party, and took it to be a Beatles
song. After realizing it was not, he decided to cover
the song for his album Nilsson Schmilsson
; it stayed at number-one on the U.S. pop chart
for four weeks, from February 13
to March 11
. The song also spent five weeks atop the U.S. adult contemporary chart
. In the U.K.
, the song spent five weeks at number one on the British pop chart
, beginning on March 11, and sold almost 800,000 copies. The single was produced by Richard Perry
, who later explained, "It was a different record for its time. It was a big ballad with a heavy backbeat, and although many artists have cut songs like it since, no one was doing it then." Gary Wright
, then known as a member of the British group Spooky Tooth
, and later a successful solo artist in his own right, played piano on the recording.
Nilsson's version of "Without You" was also used as the opening tune to 1979's Porridge.
While Nilsson rarely performed live, he did perform the song with Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in September of 1992 , and also performed the song with the house band, Liverpool, at various Beatlefest fan conventions.
Mariah Carey version
Mariah Carey's version was released as the third single off Music Box in the first quarter of 1994 (see 1994 in music), and in the United States it was released on January 24, 1994, just over a week after Nilsson had died following a heart attack on January 15, 1994. In the U.S. it was promoted as a double A-side with "Never Forget You". In the song Carey dips into her lower register and is accompanied by backup singers (including herself) magnified to sound like a mighty gospel chorus. Carey said that she decided to cover the song when she heard it in a restaurant. Mariah's version has been considered very popular on talent shows. "Without You" was later included on some non-U.S. pressings of her compilation album #1's (1998).
"Without You" reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100
, remaining in the top forty for twenty-one weeks and on the chart for twenty-three. It reached number 2 on the Hot 100 Airplay
and number 3 on the Hot Singles Sales
. Both radio airplay and sales were strong, and it was certified gold
by the RIAA
. It was ranked sixteenth on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts.
"Without You" remains as Carey's biggest hit outside the U.S., having been largely successful across Europe. It became her first UK number-one single, and still remains her only number one there as a solo artist. It debuted at number one on the chart and stayed at number one for four weeks. It became her third number-one single in Brazil. It was also her first chart-topper in Italy, but was most successful in Switzerland (with ten non-consecutive weeks at number one) and the Netherlands (twelve weeks). It also topped the singles chart in Germany for four weeks and Austria for eight weeks, where Carey's success had previously been limited. It also topped the Swedish Singles Chart for eight weeks, was #1 in Ireland for five weeks and in New Zealand for one weeks. It was able to make the top three in Canada, France, Norway and Australia. It was certified Platinum in Australia by ARIA and in Germany and Austria by IFPI. It was also certified gold in the United Kingdom by BPI, in New Zealand by RIANZ and in France by IFOP.
The single's video
, directed by Larry Jordan
, is derived from Carey's 1993 concert at Proctor Theatre, which became a television special and was later released on the home video Here Is Mariah Carey
(1994). The live performance of the song at Proctor Theatre was officially released. In addition to "Never Forget You
", the UK CD single for "Without You" included a live recording of "Dreamlover
" (1993). The German music channel VIVA
nominated the video as one of the best 100 music videos from the last 10 years. The video has more than fifteen million views on YouTube
Other cover versions
The song has been covered by several other artists, including:
- Antonio Cartagena, a Spanish version in salsa mode
- Shirley Bassey, for the album And I Love You So released in August 1972 (see 1972 in music)
- Cilla Black for her January 1973 record, Day by Day With Cilla
- Heart, for the album Magazine released in April 1978 (see 1978 in music)
- Air Supply, for the album The Earth Is... released in 1991 (see 1991 in music)
- Melissa Manchester, on the album, For The Working Girl, originally released in 1980
- Mina, with Johnny Dorelli at the radio in the Italian translation: "Per chi" (1978)
- Kelly Clarkson sang the song during her run on the first season of American Idol.
- Donny Osmond, for the album Somewhere in Time, released in November 2002
- Jade Kwan, for the album Jade-2 Special Edition released in January 2003 (see 2003 in music)
- Clay Aiken, for the album A Thousand Different Ways released in September 2006 (see 2006 in music)
- Pandora, in 1992. This Spanish-language version, under the title of "Desde el dia que te fuiste" (From the day you went way), was covered by the operatic pop band Il Divo, for the album Siempre released in November 2006 (see 2006 in music)
- Leona Lewis covered the song on X Factor.
- Tito Nieves : salsa version (another salsa version is done by Orquesta Corinto)
- Klasse Aparte (Sin ti, merengue 1996)
- Natalia, for the album This Time released in 2003
- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (Will Oldham), with Bob Marley's Babylon System for the 2004 EP Pebbles and Ripples
- Wing, for the album One Voice released in 2007.
- In 2004, Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo posted his cover of "Without You" on his MySpace page. The song was removed due to copyright issues though mp3s of the song are still floating around the web.
- Carly Smithson sang the song on the seventh season of American Idol the week Mariah Carey mentored the contestants.
- In 2008, Valentina Hasan, a season two contestant of Music Idol Bulgaria, sang her own version of "Without You" in extremely broken English. Soon dubbed "Ken Lee," the video of Valentina Hasan's performance quickly became a YouTube hit, and was parodied and remixed by many fans.
- Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger. ISBN 0-9657122-1-4. (Origination of the song lyrics.)