Miguel always knew he was destined for greatness. Amid shoddy record deals, less-than-perfect auditions, and false starts, he was always willing to place bets on himself. And now, nearly 20 years since he made his debut as an artist in his own right, he continues to set records with his songs that have proven to stand the test of time. But with four albums under his belt, and even more new music on the way, one of his earliest songs always seems to come back around.
At the time of writing, Miguel’s breakthrough single “Sure Thing” sits at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached this peak back in May, nearly 13 years after the song’s proper release, though many fans remember hearing the song earlier than 2010.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Miguel first shared “Sure Thing” with the world. A version credited to Miguel Jontel with a slightly different mix can be found on YouTube, with a posting date of 2008. In a recent interview with NME, Miguel revealed that he wrote the song in 2007, for consideration for Usher’s 2008 album, Here I Stand.
“I was a struggling artist here in LA, not making any money but trying to get on however I could,” he said. “Writing was one of the things allowing me to get into rooms and to start writing for artists but I had no real placements at the time.”
He shared the song with Mark Pitts, who, instead of giving the song to Usher, flew Miguel out to New York and signed him to Jive.
Around that same time, the song surfaced on MySpace, however, tracking the metrics would prove rather difficult. In 2019, it was reported that over 50 million songs that were uploaded to MySpace before 2015 were lost. But according to a 2014 Vibe article, “Sure Thing” had “over 4.5 million hits when it came out.”
But before “Sure Thing” was conceptualized, Miguel’s sound and aesthetic was completely different. In 2004, he auditioned to be part of R&B and hip-hop group Fatty Koo, however, was not chosen as a member. Shortly after, he signed a deal with independent label Black Ice Records. One of his earliest singles dates back to 2006, in the form of the rhythmic “Getcha Hands Up.” A video was shot, and premiered on BET’s 106 & Park video countdown program, and features Miguel rocking a baggy shirt and jeans.
Upon signing the deal with Jive in 2007, Miguel was sued by Black Ice Records for breach of contract, which would delay the release of his debut album All I Want Is You until 2010, when the case was eventually settled.
When All I Want Is You finally arrived — on November 30, 2010 — “Sure Thing” still sounded fresh and made Miguel one of the pioneers of the alt-R&B wave popularized by artists like himself, and his contemporaries, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.
All I Want Is You also arrived around the time of the “blog era,” during which time, blogs like 2DopeBoyz, DJBooth, and HotNewHipHop were key players in highlighting new artists. Artists like J.Cole, Wale, Wiz Khalifa – all of whom, Miguel collaborated with – were some of the rappers to emerge during that time. With these collaborations, Miguel garnered much attention for music of his own.
Through the summer of 2011, “Sure Thing” was a hit on hip-hop and R&B radio. Though All I Want Is You had only been out for a few months, the song was about four years old when it was breaking through. In an interview with YouKnowIGotSoul conducted during that summer, Miguel said he felt that “Sure Thing” was a “dated record,” but was overjoyed that people were discovering it and loving it.
“Now that it’s on the radio, it’s just cool to know that the music stood the test of time,” he said.
“Sure Thing” maintained its momentum through 2011, becoming a vital component of the blog era. It reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B And Hip-Hop Songs for that year.
Migue’s story, of course, did not end there. Over the course of the following decade, each of his following albums would offer equally considerable, if not surpassing, hits. 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream boasted “Adorn” and “How Many Drinks?”, while 2015’s Wildheart included “Coffee” and “Simple Things.” And his most recent album, 2017’s War & Leisure featured the Travis Scott-assisted “Sky Walker.”
And even when Miguel isn’t on an album cycle, most superfans know that he will toy around with a song multiple times for years until he gets it right. The version of “Candles In The Sun” on Miguel’s Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 3 EP features a John Lennon audio soundbite that isn’t on the Kaleidoscope Dream version. The first iteration of “Simple Things,” which appeared on the second soundtrack for HBO’s Girls has a different drum pattern than the final version that appears on Wildheart. Three versions of “Coffee” exist — one featuring Wale, one that replaces the references to coffee with the word “f*cking,” and the solo version that served as Wildheart‘s lead single.
“Sure Thing” is no different, and that became clear as it began to gain popularity on TikTok this past January.
There’s no particular challenge or dance routine for “Sure Thing” as it lives its third life via TikTok, however, a sped-up version of the song is often used in video montages of couples on date nights, makeup influencers’ “get ready with me” videos, and therapeutic home cleaning clips. This particular version marks “Sure Thing’s” third known mix, and has over 3.8 million loops on the video-sharing platform.
Meanwhile, the song was finally sent to pop radio in its normal speed this past February, more than 12 years after its major label release.
As “Sure Thing” has held up during nearly all of the vital eras of modern music – the MySpace era, the blog era, and now, the content era – the song’s newfound success comes as a full circle moment for Miguel. In an interview with Apple Music 1’s The Chart Show, he expressed gratitude for the fans who helped grow “Sure Thing” from an underground staple to a pop culture phenomenon.
“I think it’s an opportunity for people to, hopefully for anyone who likes that song specifically, just get into the journey of it,” he said. “I think there’s something dope about that, that we don’t really get to do, especially because my career started as social media began as well.”