Worldwide the single has sold over 10 million copies making it one of the best selling singles of all time.
The song's accompanying music video, directed by Sophie Muller, depicts Rihanna naked in a bathtub filled with cloudy water, while Ekko sings in a separate bathroom.
It features guest vocals by Mikky Ekko, and was released as the second single from the album on January 7, 2013. The song's lyrical content speaks of temptation and the inability to resist true love.
Music critics were generally positive in their opinion regarding the balladry, with most describing it as a standout track on the album, though a few labeled it as boring.
He wrote that "Three years ago, no one would have paid attention to a beautiful piano-ballad like 'Stay.' Not because of the events we all witnessed, but because of how honest and emotionally-connected her vocals are." Lewis Corner for Digital Spy awarded "Stay" four out of five stars, commenting that Rihanna "doesn't need all the controversial romp to top the charts." Corner also compared "Stay" to the work of "some of 2012's most successful female balladeers" Emeli Sandé and Lana Del Rey and concluded by stating that Rihanna "never [follows] the pack" but "[airs] her seemingly complex emotions through music's current trend." The song garnered a mixed review from Genevieve Koski for The A. Club, writing that the album is "heavy on the sort of milquetoast ballads that have never been Rihanna's specialty" with regard to "Stay" and "What Now".During the production of the album, several musicians and producers were recruited including American singer Mikky Ekko and producer Justin Parker.According to Ekko, the production of the album was massive, "Their pace is insane.It peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Rihanna's twenty-fourth top ten on the chart, thus surpassing Whitney Houston's tally.Furthermore, it has charted at number one on the US Pop Songs chart and 16 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.