The song was written by Mariah Carey and Ben Margulies. The song was produced by Narada Michael Walden and Rhett Lawrence.
The song was recorded in January of 1989 and was officially released as the first single on May 15, 1990 during the second quarter of 1990 in the United States & the third quarter of 1990 internationally.
"Vision of Love" was the first song that Mariah and Ben Margulies co-wrote after Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola signed Mariah to a recording contract.
The album version of the song was altered from the original demo recording that Mariah and Ben made which had a 50's-style shuffle.
The song's protagonist describes having a "vision of love" and of being eternally grateful not to a lover, but to God.
The lyrics are also related to the realization of Mariah's dreams as a singer.
Mariah told Ebony Magazine that the song "represents everything in my life" and "is a song from the heart."
According to her, its lyrics are based on personal struggles she experienced when was younger, including her parents' divorce, moving frequently and the attitudes of the people in her neighborhoods to her ethnicity.
"Vision of Love" was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1991. It won "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, "Record of the Year," and "Song of the Year."
The song also received the "Soul Train Music Award" for "Best R&B\Soul Single, Female" and a "Songwriter Award" at the BMI Pop Awards.
The song has received positive reception for her vocals, especially her signature whistle high-note. VH1 listed "Vision of Love" as the 14th greatest song of the 90's.
Critics hailed the song as being a breakthrough song for Mariah's career and credit it with propelling her future records to number one as well as boosting her to "super-stardom."
R&B singer Beyoncé says that she began to do vocal runs after listening to "Vision of Love" for the first time in her younger years.
Pop singer Mikaila Enriquez says that "Vision of Love" was the song that made her want to sing.
R&B singer Rihanna has noted "Vision of Love" as one of her favorite Mariah Carey songs.
Pop singers Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears have credited "Vision of Love" with encouraging them to pursue careers as singers.
Rapper Snoop Dogg says that while he was in jail, he remembered "Vision of Love" being the #1 song in the country as well as giving him hope and inspiration during his time in jail.
The single's music video, directed by Bojan Bazelli, features Mariah on a darkly lit stage against a background of moving clouds and a staircase.
The video was the second to be commissioned for the song after a previous video was scrapped.
According to Rolling Stone, an "informal source" said that the two videos cost a combined US$450,000. Columbia Records executive Don Ienner said the figure was "total bullshit," adding:
"If we're gonna take the time and effort that we did with Mariah, on every level, then we're going to image her the right way. If it costs a few extra dollars to make a splash in terms of the right imaging, you go ahead and do it."
Two live versions of the track were released as exclusive live performance bonus tracks on non-U.S. releases of the singles. The first live version was culled from the EP "MTV Unplugged."
The live version of the song released on the single is not the same as the version found on the MTV Unplugged album.
It was edited and the intro and outro were faded. The first version is most often found on the UK single of "I'll Be There."
The other live performance is taken from Mariah's DVD "Fantasy: Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden" and is available on most European singles of "Open Arms."
In the United States, "Vision of Love" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #73 during the week of June 2, 1990.
Nine weeks later, the song hit the top of the charts and lasted there for 4 weeks between August 4th to August 25th.
The song also topped Billboard's Hot R&B\Hip-Hop Songs chart for 2 weeks and Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart for 3 weeks.
In August 1990, "Vision of Love" was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The song also topped the charts in Canada and New Zealand, and made the Top 10 in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
The song was certified Gold in New Zealand and Australia. On Billboard's "End of Year" chart in 1990, the song peaked at #6 on the chart.
On Billboard's "End of the Decade" chart for the 90's, the song peaked at #91.
"Vision of Love" has been lauded by contemporary music critics for its lyrical content, vocals & use of melisma.
In a retrospective review on the album in 2005, Entertainment Weekly called the song "inspired" and complimented Mariah's use of the whistle register in the song
In 2006, Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker named the song "the Magna Carta of melisma" for it and Mariah's influence on pop and R&B singers and American Idol contestants.
Additionally, Rolling Stone said that "the fluttering strings of notes that decorate songs like "Vision of Love" inspired the entire American Idol vocal school for better or worse and virtually every other female R&B singer since the nineties."
Slant Magazine critic Rich Juzwiak, wrote "I think ["Vision of Love"] was a vision of the future world of American Idol."
In a separate review from Slant, RJ wrote "The last half of "Vision Of Love" (starting with the belted bridge) is a series of crescendos that get so intense that another Mariah has to step in to keep up the momentum."
Additionally, RJ complimented the usage of the whistle register in the song:
"And then there's the whistle note. And then there's the final vocal run that's more like a roller-coaster track. If you think these aren't climaxes, she proves you wrong with her denouement, the way the last word, "be," sort of wanes into an "mm hmm hmm."
Bill Lamb from About.com said that "Vision of Love is one of the best songs of Mariah's recording career [...] It is simply one of the most stunning debut releases ever by a pop recording artist."
|Australian Singles Chart||9|
|Canadian Singles Chart||1|
|Dutch Singles Chart||8|
|French Singles Chart||25|
|German Singles Chart||17|
|Irish Singles Chart||10|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||1|
|Swedish Singles Chart||17|
|Swiss Singles Chart||24|
|UK Singles Chart||9|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs||1|