Lisa Loeb can thank U2 for playing an indirect, but indispensable, part of “Stay (I Missed You)” crowning the Billboard Hot 100. Her breakthrough acoustic ballad began its three-week reign on Aug. 6, 1994.
“I recently saw Stacey Sher, who was one of the producers of Reality Bites,” Loeb says. “She reminded me that [the producers] were supposed to be in Ireland doing a screening for [a U2 project], but U2 had to cancel. So, she and [film director and star] Ben Stiller and a few other folks came to see me at the [since closed club] Wetlands in New York. That’s when they decided to put the song in the movie.”
U2’s loss was Loeb’s career-making gain. She became the first unsigned act to top the Hot 100, while the success of the song – it was released as a single from RCA’s Reality Bites soundtrack, which has sold 1.9 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan – helped her to quickly land a deal with Geffen.
Twenty years later, the melodic “Stay” remains prominent in pop culture, including its cheery prison sing-along in a second-season episode of Orange Is the New Black. (“That was awesome,” Orange fan Loeb beams.)
Loeb credits Reality Bites star, and friend, Ethan Hawke for his concept for the song’s memorable one-take video, which he directed. The biggest key, though, to its, well, stay-ing power? “It expresses what it’s like to be in a relationship, all the ups and downs. That’s why it’s called ‘Stay.’ It’s, ‘Should I stay? Should I go? What should I do?’ People have a really emotional connection with it.”