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Endless Love (song)

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August 1, 1981



7" single

Pop, R&B

"Endless Love (instrumental)"

"Endless Love" is a song written by Lionel Richie and originally recorded as a duet between Richie and fellow soul singer Diana Ross. In this ballad, the singers declare their "endless love" for one another. It was covered by soul singer Luther Vandross with R&B singer Mariah Carey and also by country music singer Shania Twain. Richie's friend (and sometimes co-worker) Kenny Rogers has also recorded the song. Billboard has named the original version as the greatest song duet of all-time.


About the record

Ross and Richie recorded the song for Motown, and it was used as the theme for the Franco Zeffirelli's film adaptation of Scott Spencer's novel Endless Love. Produced by Richie and arranged by Gene Page, it was released as a single from the film's soundtrack in 1981. While the film Endless Love was a modest box-office success, the song became the second biggest-selling single of the year (first was "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes) in the U.S. and reached number 1 on the Hot 100, where it stayed for nine weeks from August 15 to October 10, 1981. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart and the Adult Contemporary chart, and reached number 7 in the UK.

The soulful composition became the biggest-selling single of Ross' career, and her 18th and final career number-one single (including her work with The Supremes). It also was Richie's highest charting single, and the first of several hits for Richie during the 1980s. Ross recorded a solo version of the song for her first RCA Records album, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, the duet version being her last hit on Motown. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Richie, and was the second song with which Ross was involved that was nominated for an Oscar. It also won a 1982 American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single.

Credits and personnel

  • Lionel Richie – lead vocals
  • Diana Ross – lead vocals
  • Sonny Burke – Fender Rhodes
  • Nathan East – bass guitar
  • Barnaby Finch – piano
  • Ed Greene – drums
  • Paul Jackson, Jr. – acoustic and electric guitar
  • Thomas McClary – guitar
  • Rick Shlosser – drums
  • Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey version

    Walter Afanasieff produced Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey's cover of the song for Vandross' Epic Records-released album Songs, and it is known for being Carey's first "high-profile" duet (an earlier duet, "I'll Be There", was with the then-unknown background singer Trey Lorenz). At the 1995 Grammy Awards, the song was nominated in the new category of Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, losing to "Funny How Time Slips Away" by Al Green and Lyle Lovett. Columbia Records later included the song on Carey's compilation album Greatest Hits (2001) and then again on her next compilation album, The Ballads (2008). It was released as the second single from Songs in 1994.


    Sony Music Entertainment President Tommy Mottola suggested that Vandross record Songs, an album of cover versions. Featuring Vandross' versions of songs like Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With", Heatwave's "Always and Forever", and Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly", the album was shaping up to be a major career accomplishment. To give the album a bigger boost, Mottola's then-wife, Mariah Carey, came up with the idea to remake "Endless Love" as a duet with her. Lionel Richie and Diana Ross had originally recorded "Endless Love" in 1981, and the song spent nine weeks at number 1. Although Luther's album was already set to contain one Lionel Richie composition, "Hello", it was obvious that having the most-popular female singer on the Sony label singing on the album would be a benefit.

    Critical reception

    AllMusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine highlighted this track. Entertainment Weekly's Jeremy Helligar wrote that the album might very will give Vandross a number one hit with "Endless Love" but still called the song "drippy."

    Track listings

    7" single

    1. "Endless Love" – 4:21
    2. "Endless Love" (instrumental) – 4:22

    Japanese 3" CD single

    1. "Endless Love" – 4:21
    2. "Endless Love" (Mariah only) – 4:22
    3. "Endless Love" (Luther only) – 4:22
    4. "Endless Love" (instrumental) – 4:22

    UK and European CD maxi single

    1. "Endless Love" – 4:21
    2. "Endless Love" (instrumental) – 4:22
    3. "Never Too Much (live) – 5:00
    4. "Any Love" (live) – 5:22
    5. "She Won't Talk to Me" (live) – 5:14

    Commercial performance

    "Endless Love" debuted on September 10, 1994 at number 31 and peaked at number 2 being held back from the top position by Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You". The song became Luther Vandross' biggest pop hit ever and gave Lionel Richie his first top ten as a songwriter in seven years. It became Vandross's fifth top-ten single and Carey's twelfth. It remained in the top forty for thirteen weeks, and was ranked number 56 on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts. It was also an improvement over Carey's previous single, "Anytime You Need a Friend", which had missed the top ten. It was certified gold by the RIAA.

    The song was a success outside the U.S, reaching the top of the chart in New Zealand (for five weeks) and the top five in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands. It also reached the top 20 in most of the countries. It was certified Platinum in Australia by ARIA and in New Zealand by RIANZ.

    Total sales in the UK stand at 230,000.

    Music video

    Two music videos were released for the single; one features Carey and Vandross recording the song in a studio, and the other shows the two performing the song live at Royal Albert Hall. The latter performance is included on the Luther Vandross: From Luther with Love music video collection in DVD format.

    Some versions of the song itself were released, in which Carey or Vandross sings solo.

    Lionel Richie and Shania Twain version

    Lionel Richie re-recorded the song in 2011 as a duet with country singer Shania Twain. It was released as the lead single from his album Tuskegee on February 7, 2012. The recording process of song was documented in the final episode of Twain's reality docudrama series, Why Not? with Shania Twain, which aired on June 12, 2011.

    Music video

    A music video for the song was recorded in the Bahamas in February 2012. The video, directed by Paul Boyd, was released to country music channels CMT and GAC on March 23, 2012.

    Usage in media

    The song was included in Adam Sandler's movie Happy Gilmore when Happy and his girlfriend Virginia are ice skating, and the song begins to play. Virginia says to Happy "I thought we were just going to be friends." To which he responds, "What, friends listen to 'Endless Love' in the dark."

    In A Night at the Roxbury, there was a wedding going on with the couple singing the song, and the Butabis were dancing.

    The song was included as well in the third season of Friends, in which Phoebe walks into Chandler's apartment, to find him singing the song and holding Lionel Richie's first album (even though the song is included on his fourth album, Back to Front).

    On an episode of The Steve Harvey Show, Steve and Regina perform the song at a janitor's urging (who thought they were Ross and Richie); at the end of the song, the janitor quips "no wonder you guys haven't had a hit in a while."

    On an episode of Glee, Matthew Morrison, the Glee Club instructor, and Lea Michele as one of his students (Rachel) sing the song as a duet in class with Lea Michele remarking in an interior monologue, "I never noticed before, but Mr. Shue is really cute." This leads to a series of increasingly embarrassing high school crush scenes.

    Namibian singer Nianell and South African singer Dozi included it on their duet covers album "It Takes Two" in 2009.

    Live cover performances

    The song has been performed four times on American Idol, by Rickey Smith, Chris Sligh, Danny Gokey, and Deandre Brackensick. The song was also performed on Australian Idol in 2007 by eventual winner Natalie Gauci on the Final 7 Birth Year (the contestants performed songs from the year they were born) theme night. It was also performed by Whitney Houston and her brother Gary Houston in some of her 1997–1998 concerts, including the Classic Whitney concert in Washington D.C.


    Endless Love (song) Wikipedia

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