The Story of... 'Stay Another Day' by East 17

3 December 2021, 16:19 | Updated: 16 November 2022, 16:29

East 17
Picture: London/YouTube

By Tom Eames

East 17's classic hit is revived every Christmas. Here we bring you the fascinating story behind the classic including its lyrics, meaning, recording, video, covers and more facts.

Whether you consider it an actual Christmas song or not, surely we all agree that 'Stay Another Day' by East 17 is one of the greatest ballads of all time.

But who wrote it and what is it all about? Here's all the facts you need:

  1. Who wrote 'Stay Another Day' and what is its meaning?

    Tony Mortimer in 1994
    Tony Mortimer in 1994. Picture: Getty

    'Stay Another Day' was released as the third single from East 17's second album Steam.

    It was their first ballad, and was written by the group's lead songwriter Tony Mortimer.

    Despite seeming to be a love song, it was actually written about Tony's brother Ollie, who had committed suicide.

    Mortimer explained to NME in 2012: "I'd grown up with the other guys in the band, so they knew it was about him, though it wasn't something I told anyone about until people started asking about it in interviews."

    The song was also inspired by a close friend of Mortimer's who lost her father. He said: "As he was dying in his hospital bed, he woke up and came back for another 24 hours. When people are leaving, you always wish you had one more day with them, and that's where the title came from."

    Mortimer was helped in writing the song by his co-manager Rob Kean and songwriter Dominic Hawken, who had once been Boy George's keyboard player.

    See more: The 20 worst Christmas songs of all time

  2. Why is it considered a Christmas song?

    East 17 - Stay Another Day (Official Music Video)

    Despite not being about Christmas, it is usually considered a festive classic.

    Christmas bells were added towards the end of the song, in order to appeal to the lucrative Christmas singles market.

    Read more: 7 classic Christmas songs that aren't actually about Christmas

    The song was released in late November, and ended up becoming that year's Christmas number one.

    Its music video is also very festive, as it sees the boys wearing white furry parkas while it snows in the background.

    Mortimer later said: "It wasn't meant to be a Christmas single. The A&R department said we should stick some bells on the end, but that's as much as it touches on the old ho-ho-ho stuff. I thought they were all mad."

  3. It beat Mariah Carey to Christmas number one

    The year before, rival boyband Take That just missed out on the Christmas number one after being beaten by Mr Blobby of all things.

    East 17 did one better by securing the Christmas number one in 1994, beating Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You' to the top spot.

    See more: The Story of... 'All I Want for Christmas is You' by Mariah Carey

    It spent five weeks at number one in the UK, and was 1994's third bestseller. It has sold just under a million copies.

    Tony Mortimer also won an Ivor Novello songwriting award for this song.

  4. Who has covered the song?

    Stay Another Day

    Girls Aloud recorded a cover version as the B-side to their debut single 'Sound of the Underground' in 2002, which was that year's Christmas number one.

    Tony Mortimer later said he was surprised to hear that Girls Aloud had turned it into a love song: "I found it really odd they were singing a song about my dead brother. It should've been left alone for a few years,"

    It has also been covered by Kylie Minogue, Tom Chaplin and Bastille among others, and was spoofed in a Dolmio advert.