On May 21, 1994, soulful quartet All-4-One landed atop the Billboard charts with a track that had already been a huge country hit.
Penned by Gary Baker and Frank J. Myers, “I Swear” - released in November 1993 - was the lead single from John Michael Montgomery’s second studio album, Kickin’ It Up, and as you might’ve inferred from the opening lines of this piece, it helped to cement Montgomery’s status as a major country music star: not only did it top the country singles chart for four weeks, it also became a pop crossover hit, climbing to No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100.
These two things would’ve been impressive accomplishments for “I Swear” even if no one else had ever recorded it, but when All-4-One took a stab at the tune...well, let’s just say that they helped kick things up several notches for the song. Their version was produced by David Foster, which all but guarantees a glistening, radio-friendly pop song, as Larry Flick’s review of the song in Billboard indicated:
Producer David Foster supplies soft and pillowy synths, a caressing sax solo, and an overall splash of drama, which complements the unabashed romance of this hit-bound ballad. As teens enter prom season, expect this song to be the peak tune of the evening.
Flick didn’t know quite how right he was: when all was said and done, All-4-One’s “I Swear” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks.
Even more impressively, their success extended around the world, either topping the charts or at least climbing into the Top 10 in - hang on, we’re going to need to take a deep breath first - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., and Zimbabwe.
Amazingly, it wasn't the only time All-4-One and Montgomery would cross paths: in 1995 both had big hits with "I Can Love You Like That" (his went No. 1 country, theirs No. 2 pop). And here’s the even happier ending: in 2015, worlds finally collided when both artists recorded "I Swear" together for the deluxe edition of All-4-One’s Twenty+ album.