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#ThrowbackThursday: “Vision Of Love” By Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey "Vision Of Love" Columbia Records (May 1990 Cassette Cover For The USA And Canada)
  – Mariah Carey "Vision Of Love" Columbia Records (May 1990 Cassette Cover For The USA And Canada)

A message from #ThrowbackThursday writer, Sean Smith.

This past Monday marked the 27th anniversary of Mariah Carey’s debut album release. In recognition of this momentous occasion, this week we are going to take a look back at an article written by our own Craig Clizbe, which takes a deeper look into Mariah Carey’s debut single “Vision of Love.” Enjoy.

Originally Published By Craig Clizbe on June 16, 2016. 

Mariah Carey and her #1 To Infinity Las Vegas residency recently returned to the The Colosseum at Caesars Palace for another leg of dates that started on June 7th and will end on June 25th. These shows will then be followed later by another set of dates beginning on August 24th and concluding again on September 11th. As all her fans make their way to the sin city this summer, the entertainment news media continues to fish for details about her upcoming nuptials to fiancé, James Packer. These details are sure to be captured in full on Mariah’s upcoming 8-part mini-series, Mariah’s World that is set to premiere on The E! Network later this year. As we all prepare to get to know Mariah’s life unlike ever before, we at Clizbeats.com are reminded that this week represents an important milestone in her career when it all began. She is celebrating the 26th anniversary of the release of her self-titled debut album. That album, Mariah Carey was released on June 12, 1990, and proved to be a fitting way to introduce the then 19 year old New York singer to the world, who would eventually develop into the most successful female artist in Nielsen Sounscan history. The album would help kick off Mariah’s unparalleled reign over the charts and influence on Pop music in general.

It all started in 1988 when a struggling teenage Mariah Carey was working odd jobs in Manhattan while attempting to get noticed with a demo of songs she had worked on with her friend, Ben Margulies during her senior year of high school. After meeting MCA Records’ Freestyle/Pop star, Brenda K. Starr, it was Brenda who would help point Mariah in the right direction. Mariah began to sing background vocals for Starr, and it was then when Brenda noticed her undeniable natural talent. From that point on Brenda became emotionally invested in trying to help Mariah succeed. In December 1988, Carey accompanied Starr to a record executives’ gala, where she handed her demo tape to the then head of Columbia Records, Tommy Mottola. Mottola listened to the four-song demo on his way home from the party, and immediately understood the opportunity that he was presented with when listening to the tape. He spent the following week doing the detective work to track down Mariah through Brenda K. Starr’s management and signed her to Columbia Records soon after. In early 1989 Mariah began recording her debut album. Since he heard so much potential in Mariah from just listening to her demo, each of those songs along with three others that she had co-written with Ben Margulies years earlier made the album. Among those songs were the future hits, “Someday”, “Love Takes Time,” and the focus of this week’s Throwback Thursday, “Vision Of Love.”

Mottola envisioned Mariah’s talent as the way for Columbia to successfully compete with various other solo female Pop stars of the time, like Arista’s Whitney Houston, Virgin’s Paula Abdul, and Sire/Warner Bros’ Madonna. She was treated with the highest of priorities as Columbia introduced her to a team of hit makers to help her re-arrange her previously written songs, and also craft new ones. That team included Rhett Lawrence, Ric Wake and Narada Michael Walden. She was also introduced to her future longtime collaborator, Walter Afanasieff during this time as well .

“Vision Of Love” was chosen as Mariah’s debut single, and was officially released promotionally on May 15, 1990. As one of the song’s from Mariah’s original demo, Rhett Lawrence, led the way in helping give the song a new arrangement. Fred Bronson’s book The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits has Lawrence describing the original demo as having a “’50s sort of shuffle” to it. He changed its tempo to allow it to have more of a contemporary Pop vibe with R&B influence .

The single version of “Vision of Love” was recorded at Skyline Studios in New York, and featured Lawrence behind the keyboard. The song’s co-writer, Ben Margulies is also featured on the drums, with bassist Marcus Miller, drum programmer Ren Klyce and guitarist Jimmy Ripp. Lawrence also cleverly used Carey’s original vocals from her demo version, as background vocals for the song’s final version. New instrumentation and additional co-production by Narada Michael Walden finally got Mariah’s unique sound on record for the very first time. It was a refreshing departure from the familiar 80s Pop of previous years from artists like Debbie Gibson and Madonna and allowed Mariah to be one of the first artists on mainstream radio to showcase a soulful Pop blend with vocal runs that would go on to influence future stars like Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. It would also be the first time that she was also able to show off her very unmistakable “Whistle Register” that would go on to become a part of her signature as a singer.

“Vision Of Love” had a slow start on the charts. It made its debut on The Billboard Hot 100 at just number 73 on June 2, 1990. However as we all know Mariah’s vocal power would not be denied. She famously made her television debut, performing on Fox’s late night powerhouse, The Aresenio Hall Show. The world began to discover the talent that would help her become Columbia Records’ top selling artists. Carey also performed the song live on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Oprah Winfrey Show and the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards. Everyone wanted to be a part of introducing this special talent to the world, and it proved to be affective for Mariah and Columbia Records. By the time her first Grammy performance came around, “Vision Of Love” had already sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for four consecutive weeks. It also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart for two weeks and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks Chart for three weeks,

This kind of success helped make Mariah Carey one of the top selling albums from a new artist, with over 9 million albums sold in the USA alone. “Vision Of Love” eventually scored Mariah her first Grammy in the category of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, in February of 1991. It helped set Mariah and Columbia up for a hot streak of multi-platinum and diamond certified hits that would continue through the end of the decade. So as we join Mariah in celebrating the anniversary of the release of her debut album, Mariah Carey, please stroll down memory lane with us to the summer of 1990 and remember the album’s first single, “Vision Of Love.” Enjoy!

Mariah Carey 

“Vision Of Love”

From Mariah Carey

Columbia Records

Mariah Carey 

“Vision Of Love” (First TV Appearance/Performance)

From The Arsenio Hall Show 

Arsenio Hall Communications/Paramount Domestic Television

 

Mariah Carey 

“Vision Of Love” (Live)

From The 33rd Annual Grammy Awards

CBS

Mariah Carey 

“Vision Of Love” (Live 1992)

From The Oprah Winfrey Show

Harpo Productions/King World Productions 

Mariah Carey 

“Love Takes Time”

From Mariah Carey

Columbia Records

Mariah Carey 

“Someday” (12” Inch Version)

From Mariah Carey

Columbia Records