Legend explained to Fuse: "The song is saying things that balance each other out: even when I lose, I'm winning; my head's under water, but I'm breathing fine; I give you all of me, you give me all of you. At the same time as you're giving everything up, you're gaining everything, and that's what the whole song is about. If you're in love and you connect, then even when you're giving things up, you're gaining so much from it."
This moving ballad finds John Legend returning to his piano-driven roots. The heartwarming ode to loving someone else, like many of the other Love in The Future tracks, is addressed to the singer's fiancée Chrissy Teigen.
All of me loves all of you
All your perfect imperfections
Love your curves and all your edges
"The overwhelming sensibility is one of optimism," Legend told BBC News about Teigen's influence on the album. "She's definitely affected my songwriting."
John Legend told Digital Spy
that the first time he sang this song to Chrissy Teigen, she cried.
Producer Dave Tozer told SonicScoop
about the song's production. "This is a very simple, stripped-down arrangement," he said. "It's just piano, vocals, some robots, a couple of synths, and some Moog bass. The weight is all on John's vocal. And then I harmonized a bunch of his vocals to sound like robots - an Eventide piece might have been used, and the TC Helicon VoiceLive. The VoiceLive sounded cool and gave some great results."
"We were inspired by that Imogen Heap song 'Hide And Seek
,' he added, "it's kind of this a cappella tune going on with all the harmonizers. The robot harmonization is subtle - we didn't want to overdo it - but it lends a little cool character to the whole thing."
Legend married Chrissy Teigen on September 14, 2013 in Como, Italy and sung this song to his bride during the nuptials.
The Nabil Elderkin (Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver) directed black-and-white video shows scenes from John and Chrissy's honeymoon in Italy. There's also actual footage of their first kiss as a married couple.
Legend was moved to pen the song with songwriter Toby Gad (Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy
") after receiving an email from one of his managers. "She's an old friend of mine and she said I should write a song with a similar message as Billy Joel's 'She's Always A Woman
,' he recalled to The Independent
. "She knew my relationship with my then-future wife, so she thought I should write a song like that to Chrissy."
This was the first Hot 100 #1 single of Legend's career. The song climbed to the peak position on its 30th week in the chart marking the third longest ever climb to the summit. It also topped the charts in a number of other countries including Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
Legend's solo Grammy performance in January 2014 was a major factor in the song's success, with its sales rising by 174% in the two weeks following his rendition. "By all rights, I shouldn't have gotten that slot to perform by myself," Legend told Billboard magazine. "But producer Ken Ehrlich believed in the song and thought it was special enough to deserve its own slot."
John Legend and Toby Gad pulled off a very difficult feat of songwriting on this track, using just basic elements to create a heartfelt hit. Here are some of the elements they employed:
The opening piano line establishes the feel of the song and repeats in the intro with Legend's voice coming seamlessly into the mix. Using the backing music as an intro helps ease the listener into the song.
The chorus has a lot going on vocally. It's really three different parts, all with the same theme:
"'Cause all of me, loves all of you..."
"I'll give my all to you..."
"'Cause I give you all of me..."
This is where lesser R&B singers go by the boards - if you're going to declare your love so passionately, you have to make it believable, and Legend had real inspiration (his fiancée) to work with.
He then kicks it up a notch in the bridge, both musically and lyrically, ratcheting up the rhetoric by putting his "cards on the table" and "risking it all."
Toby Gad recalled the writing of the tune to Billboard magazine: "John knew he wanted to write a song to his then-fiancee, and already had the words 'all of me,'" he said. "The writing happened really fast, maybe three hours, just the two of us bouncing lyrics back and forth. It was a very natural flow, where every word felt completely honest."
This song stood out on the charts for its simplicity. Most other hits of this time relied on unusual elements to grab the listener's attention; tracks like "The Man
" by Aloe Blacc and "Pompeii
" by Bastille were filled with hooks, beats and breaks, but "All Of Me" followed a basic form, with the emphasis on Legend's voice and minimal instrumentation.
Even the title is very common, but Legend's star power ensured that the song would be heard and listeners responded, landing it on the charts alongside more elaborate offerings from the likes of Katy Perry and One Direction.
John Legend has been a regular visitor to Billboard's Adult R&B airplay chart, but this was his first song to reach the Adult Contemporary listing.
The Tiesto's Birthday Treatment remix of this song won the Grammy for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical at the 2015 ceremony. Legend performed "Glory
" at the awards that year with Common.