Love Takes Time

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"Love Takes Time"
Mariah Carey - Love Takes Time US cover.jpg
US commercial cassette single; the US CD single was distributed for solely promotional use
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Mariah Carey
ReleasedJuly 9, 1990 (1990-07-09)
RecordedMay 1990
Producer(s)Walter Afanasieff
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Vision of Love"
"Love Takes Time"

"Love Takes Time" is a song by American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey. It was written by Carey and Ben Margulies, and was produced by Walter Afanasieff for Carey's debut studio album Mariah Carey (1990). It was released as the album's second single on July 9, 1990 through CBS Records. It was the first of several adult contemporary-influenced Carey ballads to be released as a single, and its protagonist laments the loss of a lover and confesses that "love takes time" to heal and that their feelings for their ex-lover remain.

Carey quickly recorded the song at the very last minute prior to when her debut album was already "completed" and being processed for release. She played the "Love Takes Time" demo to CBS Records former CEO Don Ienner while on an airplane. Ienner and other officials immediately insisted the song be included on her upcoming album, even though the album was already going through final stages of completion and Carey wanted to save "Love Takes Time" for her sophomore effort. Eventually the song made the cut to the album as the closing track, although it was famously not seen on the track listing of early pressings of the album. Re-issues of the album correct this error.

"Love Takes Time" was well received by music critics and went to become another success very similar to her debut single "Vision of Love" in the United States and Canada. It became her second number-one single in the United States on its ninth week, attaining the position for three weeks. However, it failed to match the foreign success of "Vision of Love", this time charting weakly in Europe, Australia and the United Kingdom. A music video was provided for the song, filmed in black and white at a beach. "Love Takes Time" has been included on Carey's compilation album Greatest Hits (2001), as well as #1 to Infinity (2015), among others. "Love Takes Time" was heavily promoted in the US, being performed live on shows such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Mariah's Thanksgiving NBC Special and The Des O'Connor Show. She performed the song live at various locations during late 1990, such as the Music Box Tour, her Number 1's tour in Las Vegas (2015-2017) and on selected dates of her ongoing residency, The Butterfly Returns (2018). Most recently performed on select dates on her recent tour Caution World Tour (2019).


In 1988, an 18-year-old Mariah Carey moved out from her mother's house on Long Island and into an apartment in Manhattan. She had composed a four-track demo tape with her writing partner Ben Margulies while she was attending high school.[1] As 1988 progressed, Carey struggled to impress record executives with the tape and had failed in securing a record deal. She worked several jobs, including as a waitress and coat-checker, in order to pay for studio sessions with Margulies to make changes to the demo.[2] After several months, Carey befriended singer Brenda K. Starr, and soon became one of her back-up vocalists.[2] During recording sessions and rehearsals, Starr began to notice "glimpses" of Carey's "gifted" vocals. She thought that Carey was capable of achieving mainstream success and that she needed some guidance to break into the industry.[3]

One evening, Starr took Carey to a record industry gala with hope of convincing a record executive to listen to Carey's demo. Jerry L. Greenberg, the president of Atlantic Records was interested in Carey, but as she handed him the tape, Tommy Mottola grabbed it, and said that he would tend to "the project". Mottola left the event later that evening, and got into his limousine and listened to the tape. He quickly realized that he had found a talented vocalist, turned the car around and returned to the party to find Carey, but she had already left. After a week of tracking her down through Starr's management, Mottola got in touch with Carey and brought her over to Columbia Records. After meeting with Carey and her mother Patricia for the first time, Mottola said, "When I heard and saw Mariah, there was absolutely no doubt that she was in every way destined for super-stardom." After a few brief meetings, Carey was signed to Columbia in December 1988.[4]

Writing and recording[edit]

Mariah Carey's debut album for her label Columbia was completed and being mastered when she wrote the song with Ben Margulies. Margulies said, "It was sort of a gospelish thing I was improvising, then we began working on it. It was on a work tape that we had...and we recorded a very quick demo. It was just a piano vocal demo - I played live piano, and she sang it." Carey was on a mini-tour of ten states, playing acoustically with a piano player and three back-up singers. While on a company plane, she played the demo of "Love Takes Time" for Columbia Records president Don Ienner. "All the important guys were on the plane," Margulies said. "Tommy Mottola, Ienner, and Bobby Colomby." Carey was told the song was a "career-maker," and that it had to go on the first album. She protested - her album was already being mastered, and she intended this ballad for her next release.

The demo was sent to producer Walter Afanasieff. When Carey flew west to work with Narada Michael Walden on some tracks for her first album, Tommy Mottola and Don Ienner were impressed with Afanasieff's work and gave him an executive staff producer job with the label. "I guess to see if he made the right choice, (Tommy) called me up one day," remembers Afanasieff. "He said, 'We've got this Mariah Carey album done, but there's a song that she and Ben Margulies wrote that is phenomenal, and I want to try everything we can to put it on the album.' I said, 'What do you want me to do?' and he said, 'You only have a couple of days, but are you ready to cut it?' I couldn't believe the opportunity that it was. I'd never produced anything by myself up until that time."

The demo was very close to what Mottola wanted the finished product to be, according to Afanasieff. "We cut the song and the music and the basics in about a day - and the only reason is this deadline. It was do it or we were gonna miss out on the whole thing. We got the tape and recorded everything and we got on the plane and went to New York (and) did her vocals. She did all the backgrounds, practically sang all night...We came back to the studio that afternoon, and we had to fix one line very quickly, and then (engineer) Dana (Jon Chapelle) and I got back on the plane with the tape, went back to the studio in Sausalito, and mixed it. So it was a three-day process: a day and a half for music, kind of like a day for vocals, and a day for mixing."

Afanasieff heard from Columbia executives as soon as they received the mix. They wanted Carey's vocal a little louder, so a remix was quickly completed. The producer asked if the song would still make the debut album, and was told, "We're going to do our best." When the album was released, "Love Takes Time" was not listed on the cassette or compact disc. "(On) some of the original first copies of the record, they didn't have time to print the name of the song," Margulies laughs. "And so the song's on there, but it doesn't say that it's on there. It was a song that actually was strong enough to stop the pressing...I don't know if they had to throw away a few hundred copies."[5]


"Love Takes Time" is performed in common time in the key of B major with a slow tempo of 63 beats per minute. Carey's vocals span from F3 to G6 in the song.[6][7]



Upon its release, "Love Takes Time" received acclaim from critics. Billboard described it as a "stunning power ballad" and noted further that the song is "everything you would expect from the singer-and more."[8] In 2015, Est 1997 writer Mario stated that it was an ″Adult Contemporary ballad″ and that it was "arguably some of the strongest melodies and bridge in Mariah’s catalog." He continued by saying that ″Her vocals are so pure and passionate that every emotion filters through the music and just reaches and warms the heart. It’s the realisation of a universal truth by a young woman who’s still learning to deal with feelings. There’s almost a sense of naivety in the lyrics but, at the same time, the song sounds mature and it’s relatable. That’s a constant in Mariah’s catalog, something that has marked her strength and endurance as a writer."[9]

During a review of her 2001 Greatest Hits album in May 2002, Devon Powers of PopMatters praised the song along with "I Don't Wanna Cry", calling it "stupendous" and said that ″Her lyrics were exactly what you wanted them to be: simple, memorable, and absolutely true." Stephen Filippelli from Review Stream called the song decent, but mainly criticized the music video for the song.[10] Amanda Dobbins and Lindsay Weber of Vulture listed "Love Takes Time" at number-nineteen on their list of "Mariah Carey’s 25 Best Singles".[11] OO Cities called the song a "beautiful ballad".[12]

The song did not receive as many awards as "Vision of Love," but still managed to win a BMI R&B Award for Song of the Year and Songwriter Award. The song also won Carey the 1991 Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Urban Contemporary New Artist.[13][14]


"Love Takes Time" was another success like Carey's debut single "Vision of Love" in the United States: it debuted at #73 on September 15, 1990, it reached number–one in its ninth week on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at the top of the chart, from November 10 to 24, 1990. It spent seven weeks in the top ten and 17 weeks in the top 40 and the RIAA certified it gold. It topped every other Billboard chart for which it was eligible (including the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks). Because its success was divided over two calendar years it did not rank high on Billboard's year-end charts, making 76 on the 1990 chart and 69 on the 1991 chart.

However, "Love Takes Time" failed to emulate its US success in any other market except Canada and Poland, reaching number two on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart and number four on the Polish LP3 chart. "Love Takes Time" did reach the top ten in New Zealand but it did not make much of an impact elsewhere, becoming a moderate top 20 hit in Australia, and a top 40 hit in the UK and the Netherlands. It failed to reach the top 40 in Germany, peaking at number fifty-seven.

Music video and other versions[edit]

The single's video, directed by Jeb Brien and Walter Maser, features Carey walking around a beach after a man walks away with luggage in Venice, Los Angeles, California. The video is not included on the DVD/home video #1's (1999). A live performance of the song filmed at Proctor's Theatre in New York in 1993 was included instead.

The official single version of the song muffles Carey's whistle note at the conclusion of the bridge before the final verse.

Live performances[edit]

Carey performed the song at The Arsenio Hall Show, later she performed the song at shows like Des O'Connor Tonight, It's Showtime At The Apollo and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Three years later, in 1993, she performed the song in the special Here Is Mariah Carey, filmed at Proctor's Theatre. Later, that year, she performed again during her first stateside tour, the Music Box Tour (1993). After this, she didn't perform the song until 2013, when she sang a snippet of the song during the Australian tour. After this, Carey included the song in her 2015 Las Vegas residency #1 to Infinity serving as the second song. It was also included during selected dates of her 2018-2019 Las Vegas residency The Butterfly Returns. It was performed in select dates of Caution World Tour (2019).

Track listing and formats[edit]


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[37] Gold 35,000^
United States (RIAA)[38] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nickson, Chris (November 25, 1998). Mariah Carey Revisited: An Unauthorised Biography. St. Martin's Press. p. 20. ISBN 0312195125.
  2. ^ a b Nickson, Chris (November 25, 1998). Mariah Carey Revisited: An Unauthorised Biography. St. Martin's Press. p. 22. ISBN 0312195125.
  3. ^ Nickson, Chris (November 25, 1998). Mariah Carey Revisited: An Unauthorised Biography. St. Martin's Press. p. 23. ISBN 0312195125.
  4. ^ Nickson, Chris (November 25, 1998). Mariah Carey Revisited: An Unauthorised Biography. St. Martin's Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0312195125.
  5. ^ "Hero" inside story Archived June 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Carey, Mariah. "Mariah Carey "Love Takes Time" Sheet Music in B Major - Download & Print". Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  7. ^ "Love Takes Time - Mariah Carey - Spot On Track". Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  8. ^ "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard magazine. September 8, 1990. p. 73. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  9. ^ ""Love Takes Time," but for Mariah Carey, a second #1 hit doesn't!". Est 1997. July 17, 2015. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  10. ^ Filippelli, Filippelli. "Love Takes Time (1990): Mariah Carey". Review Stream. Review Stream. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  11. ^ Weber, Lindsay; Dobbins, Amanda (May 28, 2014). "VULTURE LISTS May 28, 2014 1:20 p.m. These Are Mariah Carey's 25 Best Singles". Vulture (May 2014). Vulture. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  12. ^ "Love Takes Time was the second single from Mariah Carey album". OO Cities. OO Cities. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "1991 Winners: Soul Train Music Awards - Internet Archive Wayback Machine". February 8, 2005. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005. Retrieved November 20, 2012.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  14. ^ (March 12, 1991). "Soul Train - Season 20, Episode 22: The 5th Annual Soul Train Music Awards". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  15. ^ " – Mariah Carey – Love Takes Time". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  16. ^ " – Mariah Carey – Love Takes Time" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9171." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 9165." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  19. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. December 22, 1990. p. 90. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  20. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  21. ^ " – Mariah Carey – Love Takes Time". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  22. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 46, 1990" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  23. ^ " – Mariah Carey – Love Takes Time" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  24. ^ " – Mariah Carey – Love Takes Time". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  25. ^ "Notowania 463" (in Polish). LP3. January 4, 1991. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  27. ^ "Mariah Carey Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  28. ^ "Mariah Carey Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  29. ^ "Mariah Carey Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  30. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. December 22, 1990. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. December 22, 1990. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  32. ^ "Jaarlijsten 1990" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  33. ^ a b "The Year in Music: 1990" (PDF). Billboard. December 22, 1990. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  34. ^ Gavin Ryan (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  35. ^ a b "The Year in Music: 1991" (PDF). Billboard. December 21, 1991. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  36. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1997 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  38. ^ "American single certifications – Mariah Carey – Love Takes Time". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 12, 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]