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The song received generally positive reviews from music critics and was the first number-one pop hit for both artists, in the US and internationally. Exploiting the media's presumption of a rivalry between the two young singers, "The Boy Is Mine" became the best-selling song of the year in the US, selling 2.6 million copies, and spent 13 weeks at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1998. It became the second song in the history of the chart to ascend directly to number-one from a previous position beneath the Top 20, at number 23, following The Beatles and the 27-1 leap of their single "Can't Buy Me Love" in April 1964. Internationally, the single also achieved a strong charting, peaking at number one in Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, while reaching the top five on most of the other charts on which it appeared.
Originally, the two artists recorded their vocals for the song together with Jerkins and his production team at the Record One Studios in North Hollywood. However, the joint recording was felt to be a failure so Monica re-recorded her vocals separately at the DARP Studios in Atlanta, Georgia with longtime contributor Dallas Austin and turned the song into a more mature pop sound. (Thus, Austin would later share the main production credit alongside Jerkins.) Though both Brandy and Monica repeatedly denied the song reflected any actual rivalry between them, tabloids began writing the opposite. There were claims that Monica was upset when Brandy performed the song solo on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Brandy was reportedly miffed when Monica opted to take the name of the duet for the title of her second album. Following reports that the pair came to blows during a rehearsal for a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1998, talk of the rivalry became so loud that the singers' managers released a joint statement in which they called the press out for its "disturbing behavior" and called the "ongoing negativity [as] totally unfair." As with "The Boy Is Mine," Jerkins later claimed that both singers "didn't get along" during production and that he and Dexter Simmons remixed the track seven times to keep everything even. In a 2012 interview with WZMX, Monica spoke about her past relationship with Brandy:
"We were young. We could barely stay in the room with each other. By no means was it jealousy or envy. She and I are polar opposites and instead of embracing that, we used our differences as reasons not to be amongst each other."
Outside the US, "The Boy Is Mine" reached the top-ten in over 14 countries and topped the chart in Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand. In Canada, the song debuted on the RPM Singles Chart at number 74 on the RPM issue dated June 1, 1998, and reached the top spot of the chart on August 21, 1998. It was present on the chart for a total of 45 weeks. It reached the top two in Belgium, France (platinum), Ireland, Norway (gold), and the United Kingdom (platinum); the top-five in Australia, Germany (gold), Sweden, and Switzerland (gold) and the top-ten in Austria (gold) and Italy.
It was listed as number 55 of the Hot 100 singles of all time by Billboard in 1998. This position was raised to number 54 in 2008. In addition, it was listed 18th on the All-Time Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs countdown. In 2008, Billboard ranked the song third on a special The 40 Biggest Duets of All Time listing. The song is the best-selling song of 1998 in the United States with 2.6 million copies sold.
Making its debut on April 22, 1998, the official music video uses the radio edit version without the intro. The video begins with the girls in their respective apartments, watching television on their long couches. While Brandy watches an episode of The Jerry Springer Show, Monica accidentally turns Brandy's TV, with her remote, to an old romantic movie which Monica watches on her own TV. Whenever one of them turns the channel, the other's TV stays on that channel and they soon tire of the back and forth. They then start to sing the song. The next scene shows the two discussing their problem among their separate groups of friends. The titular boy himself (played by Mekhi Phifer) then appears outside the two girls' apartments, which are next to each other; all their friends walk by him as they exit their respective friend's place. The girls are in their pajamas in the next scene, and then each phones the boy over to make him decide whom he wants to be with. After Brandy and Monica argue through the song's lyrics, the man comes to the left apartment, frustrated over whom to choose. The door opens, showing Brandy, then it swings a little wider to reveal Monica as well. The boy is taken aback, and the door is slammed in his face.
Riley as Mercedes (left) and Rivera as Santana (right) recorded a cover version of the song.
In 1998, UK garage group Architechs remixed "The Boy Is Mine", and released it as a white label bootleg which eventually sold 20,000 copies. This remix became highly popular due to incessant airplay on pirate radio.
In 2001, Brandy and Monica's vocals were merged with Modjo's 2000 dance hit single "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" by British DJs Stuntmasterz. Starting as an underground hit, "The Ladyboy Is Mine" was later commercially released to become a moderate hit across Europe, reaching the top ten in the United Kingdom, Belgium and the top forty in France and Switzerland. The commercial release didn't include the vocal sample from Modjo's "Lady" as Warner Brothers label East West were unable to clear it. Instead the release used the same sample from Chic's "Soup for one" and created an alternate version that only featured Brandy and Monica.
A remixed version of the song by pop singers Tynisha Keli, an American working in Japan, and Beni, a Japanese singer, was released in 2009.