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"When You Believe" is an Academy Award-winning song composed by Stephen Schwartz for the 1998 DreamWorksmarker animated feature The Prince of Egypt. A pop version of "When You Believe" was produced as a single with additional music by writer-producer Babyface for the film's soundtrack album. It was the main theme of the film and was released as a single by American singers Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey as the soundtrack's first single in 1998; it was also the first single from Houston's album My Love Is Your Love and the second from Carey's compilation album #1's.

Production and recording

During the recording process, Carey and Houston, who had never previously met, became friends. As a compromise to record the duet together, the two artists agreed that for the release of the single Houston's name would be first on the U.S. version and Carey would be listed first on the European release.

In the film, this song of inspiration is performed by the characters Tzipporah (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Miriam (sung by Sally Dworsky). The protagonists of this ballad recall tough times that have them questioning their faith: they have prayed for many nights to God but those prayers seem to remain unanswered, and they wonder if they are wasting their time. Nevertheless, they realize that although times may be difficult, "there can be miracles when you believe" in God.

For the commercial pop single, Babyface was enlisted as the song's producer to make it more friendly to pop markets. The major change was that the section of the song featuring a children's Hebrew choir was removed and replaced with a new bridge.

"When You Believe" won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Original Song and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It also received a Golden Satellite Award nomination for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture. It was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, losing to "I Still Have That Other Girl" by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello. As Carey is part Latin, she and Houston were also nominated for Outstanding Performance of a Song for a Feature Film at the ALMA Awards.

Music video

The single's music video was filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Musicmarker and shows Carey and Houston in a dark studio accented by Egyptian settings, backdrops, and scenes inspired by The Prince of Egypt. An audience is on hand to emulate a concert like setting. Occasionally, home video clips of Carey and Houston appear throughout the video. The video ends as the room is illuminated, and the two singers are joined by a large choir. A few variations of the song exist, including an extended version with a longer intro and bridge which can be found on The Prince of Egypt soundtrack, a television track, and an instrumental version.


Conflict arose between Stephen Schwartz and Babyface after Schwartz left Babyface's name off the submission sheet for the Academy Awards when the song had been nominated for Best Original Song. Schwartz had argued that Babyface should not receive Oscar credit as his version of the song (with Carey and Houston) contained additional musical elements (such as the new bridge) which had not been part of the original as heard in the film. Carey and Houston performed Babyface's version of the song live at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1999; however, only Schwartz was awarded the Oscar.

Chart performance

Years of media speculation of a feud between Carey and Houston led to expectations that a duet would be a great hit and break many chart records, especially as Carey and Houston were successive record-holders for a single with the most weeks at number one. "When You Believe" was a hit, although it didn't make the top ten; rising as high as number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It fitted a trend of Carey singles at the time, peaking at 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay, but at 7 on the Hot 100 Single Sales. Low airplay was a trend for Carey around this time, and Houston's career was also generally in decline (briefly resurging the following year), so their popularity on the radio was explained. The song remained on the Hot 100 for nineteen weeks and reached the top five on Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks; and it was both Carey and Houston's first single to appear on the new Top 40 Tracks chart. It was certified gold by the RIAA, and made the Year-End Hot 100 chart of 1999, coming in at number 99.

The single was a bigger hit worldwide, as it reached the top five in the United Kingdom and most countries of Europe, and like America, reached the top twenty in Australia. It has been certified gold in Germany, United States and Australia.

Formats and track listings

European CD single
  1. "When You Believe" (Album Version)
  2. "When You Believe" (TV Track)

U.S. CD single
  1. "When You Believe"
  2. "When You Believe" (Instrumental)

Asian/Australian/European CD maxi-single
  1. "When You Believe" (Album Version)
  2. "When You Believe" (TV Track)
  3. "I Am Free"
  4. "You Were Loved"

UK CD maxi-single #1
  1. "When You Believe" (Album Version)
  2. "I Am Free"
  3. "You Were Loved"

UK CD maxi-single #2
  1. "When You Believe" (Album Version)
  2. "Sweetheart" (The M!'s Pounding Vocal)
  3. "You Were Loved"


Chart (1998) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 13
Austrian Singles Chart 6
Belgian Flandres Singles Chart 5
Belgian Wallonia Singles Chart 4
Canadian Singles Chart 26
Dutch Singles Chart 4
European Singles Chart 2
Finnish Singles Chart 10
French Singles Chart 5
German Singles Chart 8
Irish Singles Chart 7
Japanese Singles Chart 45
New Zealand Singles Chart 8
Norwegian Singles Chart 2
Spanish Singles Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 15
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 3
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 33

Sales and certifications

Cover versions

Leon Jackson version

When You Believewas recorded by The X Factorwinner Leon Jacksonin December 2007. The single was available to download from midnight after the result of the show on December 15, 2007, and a CD was rush-released mid-week, on December 19, 2007. This is unusual as most new singles are released on a Monday to gain maximum sales for the UK Singles Chartthe following Sunday, although the previous two X Factorwinners have had their singles released in this fashion, in order for them to compete to be the Christmas number-one single, which they all duly became. A video for the single was made by the final four of the series; Jackson, Rhydian Roberts, Same Differenceand Niki Evans. However, only the winner's version of the song and video was released.

The song ended 2007 as the year's 4thbiggest-selling single in the UK and remained number one into 2008.. However, this version of the song only managed to stay in the top 40 for 7 weeks, despite being the fastest selling of 2007. It also soon disappeared from the top 100, and was gone by late February at the earliest.

Track listing

Music video

The music video, like previous X Factorwinners singles, is very simple, with Jackson singing the song in front of a large projection, with swooping shots of various landscapes behind him. It also features several clips from his time in The X Factor, from his first audition to the moment he was announced the winner and performed his single to close the series. Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh, Dermot O'Learyand runner-up Rhydian Robertsall feature within the clips.

Chart performance

On December 23, 2007 it debuted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, making it the coveted Christmas number one with sales of over 275,000 copies, and stayed at number 1 for three weeks until it fell down to number 5 on its 4th week and then fell another 10 places to number 15 on week 5. It then dropped to 29 on week 6. It also spent three weeks at the top of the Irish Singles Chart(which, at the time, had been topped by the two previous X Factor winners in correct succession - Shayne Wardand Leona Lewis).

The song has sold 490,000 copies in the UK as stated by the Official UK Charts Company.

Provider Sales Certification
Australia 35,000+ Gold
Belgiummarker 30,000+ Platinum
Francemarker 150,000+ Gold
Germanymarker 150,000+ Gold
Norwaymarker 20,000+ Platinum
Switzerlandmarker 15,000+ Gold
United States 500,000+ Gold
Chart (2007) Peak
European Hot 100 4
Irish Singles Charts 1
UK Download Chartsmarker 1
UK Singles Charts 1

End Of Year Positions

Chart (2008) Peak
UK Singles Chart 3
Irish Singles Charts 12

Chloƫ Agnew version

The youngest member of Celtic Woman, Chloƫ Agnew asked her composer David Downes that she would cover this song for her self-titled album and then he agreed. They both made this version in the keys of "C", "E " and "F". She also performs it in the Isle of Hope tour and this version is in the keys of "B ", "D", "E" and "F ".


  1. News - Articles - 1426944 - 19981029
  2. MusikIndustrie
  3. RIAA
  4. ARIA
  5. Australian Singles Chart
  6. Austrian Singles Chart
  7. Belgian Flanders Singles Chart
  8. Belgian Wallonia Singles Chart
  9. Canadian Singles Chart
  10. Dutch Singles Chart
  11. European Singles Chart
  12. Finnish Singles Chart
  13. French Singles Chart
  14. German Singles Chart
  15. Irish Singles Chart
  16. Japanese Singles Chart
  17. New Zealand Singles Chart
  18. Norwegian Singles Chart
  20. Swedish Singles Chart
  21. Swiss Singles Chart
  22. UK Singles Chart
  23. Billboard Hot 100
  24. Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
  25. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
  26. BBC Music
  27. "Top 40 Singles of the Year 2007 "
  28. BBC Music; retrieved 2007-12-27
  31. "Leon Jackson - When You Believe worldwide chart positions and trajectories". Retrieved 24 December 2007.

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