Butterfly was released as the second single from the album on December 1, 1997 by Columbia Records. The song was written, arranged and produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff.
Butterfly is a personal ballad, which blends pop, gospel and R&B genres. The lyrics spoke of setting your loved one free, because it is the best thing for them; showing that their love for the person should be greater than their own happiness.
Carey had originally conceived it as a house record with David Morales titled "Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)". When the song was finished, Carey felt there was something more she could do with the song; the lyrics were very personal and a perfect fit for a ballad.
After contemplating on the matter, Carey re-wrote "Fly Away" in ballad form, and incorporated new lyrics and vocals.
The song was named "Butterfly" and became Carey's "favorite and most heartfelt ballad." Its lyrics were very personal, linking to Carey's personal life and relationship with Mottola. Carey wrote "Butterfly" for Mottola, hoping he would say its contents to her, and choose to do what was best for her.
She described the song as "the best ballad she had ever written" and credited it as the epitome of her magnum opus, which was Butterfly.
In the United States, "Butterfly" was not eligible to chart on the Hot 100 due to Billboard rules at the time.
Butterfly was never issued a commercial release, therefore hindering its charting ability.
Butterfly was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, which it lost to Sarah McLachlan's Building a Mystery.
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