Released on May 15, 1990, "Vision Of Love" was Mariah Carey's first single. The song debuted at #73 in America, but two months later, in August, spent four weeks at the #1 spot. The orchestral ballad showcased Carey's outrageous vocal range and the video provided a great look at the singer, with lots of close-ups. Carey built off the song's success and became the top-selling female artist of the '90s.
Seventeen-year-old Mariah Carey was working as a waitress to support her budding music career when she met the song's co-writer, Ben Margulies. She needed a keyboard player for a recording session of a different song and - although he was mainly a drummer - Margulies offered his services. The pair hit it off and they started writing songs together. Margulies also played drums on this track.
This won the 1990 Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Carey also won the Best New Artist Grammy for that year - a far better choice than the previous winner, Milli Vanilli.
The album sold over 17 million of copies around the world and included three other US #1 singles: "Love Takes Time
," "Someday" and "I Don't Wanna Cry."
Carlos - Buenos Aires, Argentina, for all above
A different version was included on Mariah's demo tape for Columbia and was one of the songs that caught the ear of Tommy Mottola, her future husband and, more importantly, the head of the label's parent company, CBS Records. At the time, Mariah was working as a backup singer for Brenda K. Starr, who invited her to a label party in Manhattan where the demo tape made its way into Mottola's hands. After listening to part of the tape in his limo on the way home, Mottola went back to the party to track down the singer, but she already left and no one knew who she was. Days later, Mariah found a message on her answering machine inviting her to sign with the label. Mottola then sent her to Los Angeles to re-record "Vision Of Love" with producers Narada Michael Walden and Rhett Lawrence.
Lawrence, who described the original tempo as a "'50s sort of shuffle," changed it to a contemporary slow-dance tempo and used Mariah's demo vocals as a second vocal in the last section of the song.
The image of Mariah sitting on a tree swing and cradling a cat in the music video was taken directly from a childhood memory. When the singer was in third grade, she and her mother lived with her mother's boyfriend on an estate where he was a gardener. Mariah, who was already bullied for being biracial, was picked on by the wealthier kids at school for being poor. She found solace in her cat, Morris, and her tree swing, which was unfortunately situated by a trash heap. She recalled in her 2020 memoir, The Meaning Of Mariah Carey: "While swinging over the hill o' garbage with Morris in my lap, the smell of rotting food wafting over my face, I promised myself no matter what, I would never forget what it felt like to be a child - a moment I re-created years later in the 'Vision of Love' video. (Sans the garbage. I wanted to be sentimental, not bleak.)"
In a 1991 interview with Ebony magazine, Mariah explained how the lyrics reflected her success in overcoming the hardship of a difficult childhood. "Consider the lyrics:
Prayed through the nights
Felt so alone
Suffered from alienation
Carried the weight on my own
Had to be strong
So I believed
And now I know I've succeeded
In finding the place I conceived
Well, just because you are young doesn't mean that you haven't had a hard life. It's been difficult for me, moving around so much, having to grow up by myself, basically on my own, my parents divorced. And I always felt kind of different from everyone else in my neighborhoods. I was a different person – ethnically. And sometimes that can be a problem. If you look a certain way everybody goes, 'White girl,' and I'd go, 'No, that's not what I am.'"
This was also a #1 hit on the R&B chart for two weeks in August 1990.
This was used on the MTV animated series Daria in the 1999 episode "Depth Takes A Holiday."
Mariah sang this on the October 27, 1990 episode of Saturday Night Live.
In 1992, Mariah performed this as part of her MTV Unplugged special, which led to its inclusion on the accompanying live EP.
When Mariah collaborated with Snoop Dogg on "Say Somethin'" for her 10th studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi, she learned that "Vision Of Love" was an important song for the rapper. He was serving time on a drug charge when he first heard the song, and it became his favorite prison tune.