Saturday, August 4, 1990

Mariah Carey “Vision of Love” hit #1

Vision of Love

Mariah Carey

Writer(s): Mariah Carey, Ben Marguiles (see lyrics here)

Released: May 15, 1990

First Charted: June 2, 1990

Peak: 14 US, 12 CB, 14 GR, 13 RR, 13 AC, 12 RB, 9 UK, 14 CN, 9 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 44.6 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Singer/songwriter Mariah Carey was born in 1969 in New York, the daughter of a white opera singer and black aeronautical engineer. She recorded her first demo at sixteen and even sang back-up on Brenda K. Starr’s top 20 hit “I Still Believe” in 1988. She met record executive Tommy Mottola at a party and gave him her demo tape. He listened to it in his limo on the way home and had the driver take him back to the party. She’d already left, but he tracked her down and signed her to Columbia. BR

He “started making romantic overtures almost immediately” BR and the two eventually married, despite the 20-year-plus age difference. She would later describe him as “a repressive, controlling force” BR but he did “ruthlessly believe in her talent” BR and she was considered a priority at Columbia. Mottola wanted to do with Carey what Clive Davis had done with Whitney Houston (who’d already had seven #1’s at this point) at Arista. He even brought in Narada Michael Walden, who’d produced many of Houston’s dance-pop hits, to work on many of the tracks on Carey’s debut album, including “Vision of Love.”

Carey had a more active role in her career than Houston because she had a hand in writing and producing her songs. BR She wrote “Vision of Love” roughly a week after signing to Columbia. BR She wrote it as “a howl of triumph after making it through her chaotic, uncertain early years.” BR “The song self-consciously evokes classic soul” BR backed by “the same kind of twinkly, artificial late-eighties synthpop that previous teen sensations like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were using.” BR

In light of the scandal at the time that exposed group Milli Vanilli as not actually singing their vocals, Columbia took great care in presenting Carey as “someone who looked like a model but who really could sing.” BR Critics focused on her seven-octave vocal range at the onset of her career. BR From the beginning, Carey “understood that her voices was what set her apart” BR and “Vision of Love” “is a vehicle for that voice.” BR It is also “a sleek piece of pop craftmanship, a canny showcase for a fully formed persona, and a moving account of personal triumph.” BR

The song introduced the world to someone who would become one of the most successful artists of all time. “Vision of Love” was the first of nineteen songs to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. That made her second only to the Beatles’ twenty chart-toppers. “Vision of Love” was the first of four #1 songs from her debut album and the first of five consecutive #1 singles, making her the first artist to top the charts the first five times out.


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First posted 4/10/2023.

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