Mariah Carey’s Hero is one of the most requested songs on The Nite Lite. Find out how this inspirational song was born…
Mariah Carey wrote the song Hero. It was released on October 19, 1993 by Columbia Records as the second single from Carey’s third studio album, Music Box. Carey claims the song was for the 1992 Dustin Hoffman movie, also called Hero. Eventually the producers of the movie used Luther Vandross’ “Heart Of A Hero” instead. Walter Afanasieff explained the reason for this in Fred Bronson’s Book of Billboard #1s—the original intention was that Gloria Estefan would be asked to sing the title theme. He was recording the Music Box album with Carey at the time, and during a break he, “was sitting at the piano and told Mariah about this movie. Within two hours, we had this incredible seed for this song, ‘Hero.’” Afanasieff added: “It was never meant for Mariah to sing. In her mind, we were writing a song for Gloria Estefan for this movie. And we went into an area that Mariah didn’t really go into – in her words, it was a little bit too schmaltzy or too pop ballady or too old-fashioned as far as melody and lyrics.”
After being convinced to keep it, she made it her own, giving it a more pop and R&B melody, as well as changing some of the lyrics to more precisely fit her personality. Lyrically, the song is regarded as one of Carey’s most inspirational ballads, with its protagonist declaring that even though we may feel discouraged or down at times, in reality we are “heroes” if we look inside ourselves and see our own inner strength; in time, it will help us “find the way.”
Hero received mixed reviews by music critics for its lyrical content as well as Carey’s vocal performance. Besides its lyrics, Hero derived its hook and sound from several musical instruments such as the guitar, piano and organ and experienced strong success in several international markets—becoming Carey’s eighth chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100. It was ranked at number eleven on the Billboard Year-End Chart, and number fifty-three on the Decade-End Chart. Due to its extended popularity, “Hero” was covered by the 2008 UK X Factor finalists and released as a single, topping the charts in Ireland the UK for three weeks and becoming one of the biggest selling songs in British history.
Because of fan requests and letters connecting to its personal meaning and content, the song remains one of Carey’s most performed songs. Deemed by many as her signature song, Hero was originally performed on The Arsenio Hall Show, The Jay Leno Show, and Hey Hey It’s Saturday during its first chart run. Carey performed it on several live telethons and specials, such as Pavarotti and Friends and Michael Jackson & Friends in 1999, America: A Tribute to Heroes in 2001, Live 8 in 2005, and the inaugural ball for Barack Obama in 2009. It was also featured on the set-lists of all of Carey’s tours, usually serving as the encore or closing number.
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