A lot is misunderstood about Mariah Carey the person and Mariah Carey the artist. Some people claim Mariah didn't have to work to get where she is, and many people don't give Mariah the credit she deserves as an artist. Through these blogs I hope to shed some light on what Mariah has gone through, and how she has influenced music.

If you have any questions that you would like me to address, please email me at jason@mariahdaily.com. The best topics will be posted here.


For more detailed information on Mariah's creative process and the inspiration for her #1 songs, please look here:
Inside Story


October 2006

Home » Archives » October 2006 » "Vision Of Love": Introduction To A Legend

[Next entry: "Setting The Holiday Standard"]

10/22/2006: ""Vision Of Love": Introduction To A Legend"
Some songs fit into a certain moment in time and become novelties. Other songs resonate with multiple generations. And then there are songs that force people to listen and change the way they think about music. Mariah Carey's "Vision Of Love" is one of those songs. "Vision Of Love" was a debut record that made people stop what they were doing and listen, and many listeners can still recall where they were when they first heard 'the voice.' That quality influenced an entire generation of singers and was the perfect introduction to a future superstar.

In terms of its music and production, "Vision Of Love" mixes 50s doo-wop with more modern touches. Mariah and writing partner Ben Marguiles originally wrote the song as a 50s shuffle, and producer Rhett Lawrence worked with them to change the tempo and add some extra instrumentation. Powers writes, "From its first few moments, the song demands to be legendary." It opens with some sci-fi-like synths, Mariah begins to hum, and the song turns into what one writer describes as, "Minnie Riperton baroque." Frere-Jones describes the electric piano chords as, "reminiscent of early Billy Joel—obvious, consonant, and rich." It shouldn't be a surprise that "Vision Of Love" earned Mariah and Ben a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.

It also shouldn't be a surprise that Mariah Carey won a Grammy for her vocal on the song. Beyond its qualities as a song, "Vision Of Love" influenced an entire generation of female singers. Many current singers state hearing "Vision Of Love" is what led them to become singers. Beyonce has said, "'Visions Of Love', when I first heard that song, I knew it, my mind was made up, I had to be a singer." Christina Aguilera relays a similar message in saying, "When I discovered Mariah Carey and 'Vision of Love,' that was a breath of fresh air. And I adored her from that moment on and idolized her." Young singer Nivea shares this story: "I was watching 'The Arsenio Hall Show,' and Mariah was performing 'Vision of Love.' The way she projected her voice, she just had so much power. I knew then that I wanted to make people feel the way she made me feel." Mariah's soulful vocal drew comparisons to Aretha Franklin, but her vocal runs on the song were pretty unique. It is all capped by a high note toward the end that few singers can duplicate and that harkened back to Minnie Riperton. Perhaps even Minnie Riperton didn't display the control Mariah had over her instrument, though. As Devon Powers of Pop Matters wrote, "Anyone who remembers hearing that song for the first time in those days has to fondly recollect its most eye-popping moment: that note, so high it seemed humanly impossible, sung as effortlessly as if she were speaking her name."

While many people can recall first hearing "Vision Of Love" and some even say it is what made them want to sing, the influence of the song runs even deeper. "Vision Of Love" literally set the standard for female singers for the past 15 years. As Sasha Frere-Jones wrote in New Yorker, “'Vision of Love' is the Magna Carta of melisma...Carey made melisma a required move for both R. & B. singers and contestants on American Idol.” Even an artist like Nelly Furtado has said she learned to sing by listening to Mariah's debut album (including "Vision Of Love") and wrote songs similar to Mariah songs. Rich Juzwiak of Slant puts it more succinctly: "I think ['Vision Of Love'] was a vision of the future world of American Idol." In fact, two American Idol winners have said Mariah played a big part in their wanting to become singers. First season winner Kelly Clarkson told American Idol Rewind she realized she wanted to be a professional singer when she sang "Vision Of Love" in a choir solo in seventh grade. Sixth season winner Jordin Sparks told CTV that when she saw Mariah performing on an awards show, "I knew then that's what I wanted to do."

Aside from the power of Mariah's vocal, the message of "Vision Of Love" also connected with listeners. While some people have interpreted "Vision Of Love" as a love song, Mariah has said the lyrics actually describe her feelings after finally getting a record deal. The lyrics express a theme that would show up in future Mariah songs; the belief that humans can persevere and good fortune will come. Mary J. Blige describes the effect the song had on her in stating, "Mariah Carey's music saved little ghetto children's lives. Songs like 'Visions of Love' gave us hope and we would sing those songs and try to hit every note like Mariah -- which we can't." Even Snoop Dogg said, "I always tell [Mariah] this story: When I was locked up in jail, that song 'Vision of Love' was the hottest song in the world." Jay-Z, too, listened to the song while serving time. It's clear the message of "Vision Of Love" cuts through many situations. As Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly writes, "This exuberant ballad is a near-religious listening experience."

In the end, though, it all comes back to 'the voice.' It is appropriate for the first blog entry to focus on the song that first introduced the world to Mariah Carey, and it is appropriate that the song is most known for its vocal. As Frere-Jones summarizes, "'Vision Of Love,' made it clear that [Mariah's] instrument was the story—and it has remained so, through a celebrity marriage (to Tommy Mottola, then the chief of Sony Music), rumored breakdowns, and the public’s obligatory obsession with her weight." That's why Jacqueline Springer of Hip Hop Connections describes the song as Mariah's "piece de resistance."

Shannon | Monday, October 1, 2007
smile Every word you have typed to tell readers about VOL is brilliant! Your knowledge on Mariah is impeccable!! Amazing job!

Butterfly. | Sunday, November 12, 2006
"Vision Of Love" is my most favourite Mariah song. It is beautiful in every way and a classic that will be known for decades to come. Thank you for the good read.

Tara | Saturday, November 11, 2006
Great read! rolls eyes

taengi | Saturday, November 11, 2006
wow jason, this is a very nice, neat and precise entry. it's great to have a word on classic "VOL". Great job. Keep up the good work and I can't wait for your next entry.

Ruby Valdez | Thursday, November 9, 2006
Mariah where is your vision of Love?
Where does it stand
satisfied crying confused wink sad shocked razz blush crazy hehe plain sleepy cool eh? angry, grr big grin smile
Eyes know just being U?
I know just being U ?

Murat | Wednesday, November 1, 2006
What a great analyze of this timeless classic, it seems like you wrote everything I've been thinking. smile Thank you Jason, this is the first report that I've read on here and I can't wait to read the other ones.

breakbreakdown | Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Vison has an energy that it's beyond me. she doesn't quite belt/scream yet it's a very deep, emotional ballad. she sings it with such conviction and passion that confuses me: shouldn't Vision Of Love be a soulful, raw performance?

Michael | Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Great entry. cool eh?

theONE | Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Great post; you really captured the importance of Vision of Love. This day in age, it's hard to imagine a time when few to no singers used melisma...because almost every pop and r&b singer today (who CAN do it) utilizes that style. Mariah truly has one of the most influential voices of all time and I am very proud to be a fan of the woman who is a pioneer of such singing; she really took vocals to the next level. I only wish I was old enough back in 1990 to understand what I was listening to, because I know it must have been magical for adults to hear vocals quite. like. THAT...for the first time ever.

DM | Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Oooh, so that's why you were asking about the Baroque comparasions.

Nice way to start off this site. Hope we get to see more. smile

New Comment
smile shocked sad
big grin razz *wink wink* hey baby
angry, grr blush confused
cool crazy cry
sleepy hehe LOL
plain jane rolls eyes satisfied