Musician Review: Celine Dion

I first heard of Celine Dion near the end of 1990, when I was a sophomore in high school. My local Top 40 radio station started playing “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” and I was blown away by the song. The combination of the music and the powerful vocal performance made the song stand out from a lot of the music that was being played on Top 40 radio at the time. As the song gained in popularity, I learned that she wasn’t even a native English speaker. It impressed me that she not only learned enough English to perform the song, but she was also able to deliver the lyrics so convincingly. Over the years, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” has continued to be one of my favorite songs from the 1990s.

The follow-up single, “(If There Was) Any Other Way” was an OK song. It wasn’t as strong of a song as “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” but it’s still an enjoyable listen. Unfortunately, the pop music audience didn’t agree, since the song didn’t fare nearly as well on the charts as “Where Does My Heart Beat Now.” A few years later, I purchased the album, Unison, which has these songs on it. The album is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, and it’s a CD I can put into my CD player and let it run from start to finish without skipping any songs.

After “(If There Was) Any Other Way,” Celine disappeared from the pop music scene for several months. However, when she returned, it was with Peabo Bryson on a duet for the ending credits of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast. I really enjoyed this song tremendously. In the spring of 1992, Celine Dion released a self-titled album, and it included “Beauty and the Beast.” The first single to actually be released from the album was “If You Asked Me To,” which is a remake of a James Bond song sung by Patti LaBelle; personally, I believe Celine improved on the original song. This single performed very well for Celine on the pop charts. However, my favorite single from the album is “Nothing Broken But My Heart.” I really like how the song builds in intensity, and just explodes near the end. The next single was “LoveCanMoveMountains,” which is actually a more uptempo single than usual for Celine. I enjoyed hearing that Celine could record something more uptempo, since up to that point, her singles were primarily ballads and mid-tempo songs. “Water From the Moon” was also released as a single, but only to adult contemporary radio. This is a song I also really enjoy from the album, but it wouldn’t have fared well at pop radio. Some of the other songs on this album are decent, but I don’t find myself going out of my way to listen to them.

In the summer of 1993, Celine released “When I Fall in Love,” a duet with Clive Griffin for the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack. Personally, I liked this song, but it wasn’t as big of a hit on pop radio as it was on adult contemporary. Near the end of 1993, Celine released her next album, The Colour of My Love. The first single, “The Power of Love,” was a cover of a Laura Branigan song. It ended up becoming a big hit, both at pop radio and at adult contemporary. I really like the powerful vocal performance on this song, and I also like how the song builds musically. The next single was the uptempo “Misled.” Personally, I really like this song; unfortunately, it just couldn’t come anywhere close to matching the chart performance for “The Power of Love.” Two other singles (“Think Twice” and “Only One Road”) followed. Unfortunately, these songs only had chart success at adult contemporary radio. Overall, I think The Colour of My Love album isn’t anywhere near as strong as Unison or Celine Dion. I usually only put this CD in to listen to “The Power of Love” and “Misled.”

After The Colour of My Love, Celine was gone from the American music scene for a couple of years. In the spring of 1996, she returned with the song “Because You Loved Me,” from the film Up Close & Personal. Not only did “Because You Love Me” become one of her most popular singles ever, but it has also become a signature song for her. This was followed by the release of the album, Falling Into You. In late summer/early fall of 1996, Celine Dion released the song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” which was written by Jim Steinman, who is known for writing a lot of Meat Loaf’s big songs. Celine was the perfect choice for recording this song, because she has the voice to go along with Jim Steinman’s musical style. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” is not only my favorite song from Falling Into You, but it also ranks as one of my favorite Celine Dion songs of all-time. “All By Myself,” the cover of an Eric Carmen song, was also released as a single, but it didn’t perform as well on the pop charts as “Because You Loved Me” or “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” I also think that Falling Into You is one of Celine’s strongest albums.

In the fall of 1997, Celine released her next album, Let’s Talk About Love. It was led off with “Tell Him,” which was a very hyped duet between Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand. While this song performed very well at adult contemporary radio, it fizzled at pop. Then, in January of 1998, when it seemed like pop radio was ready to dismiss Celine, the film Titanic became a big hit; and with that success, “My Heart Will Go On,” Celine’s song from the soundtrack, exploded onto the charts. This song became, by far, Celine’s biggest hit; unfortunately, it also became the pinnacle of her career. The next single, “To Love You More,” did decently on the pop charts, but it had struggle to break the top twenty. Overall, I think the Let’s Talk About Love album is on the weak side.

The final Celine Dion album in my collection is These Are Special Times, which was the Christmas album she released in 1998. She has a lot of well-done holiday songs on it. The single, “I’m Your Angel,” a duet with R. Kelly, is actually one of the weaker songs on the album. Her next release was a greatest hits album, with the new song “That’s The Way It Is”; it was produced by Max Martin, who was known at that time for producing music by Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and *NSYNC. It’s not a bad song, but it was ultimately a song that could have been recorded by just about anyone in the late 1990s. The last song I remember hearing from Celine Dion was a cover of “I Drove All Night.” Personally, I think both Cyndi Lauper and Roy Orbison had better renditions of this song.

I know that Celine has released more material since “I Drove All Night,” but I haven’t heard it, so I can’t comment on them. By the time these more recent albums came out, I really wasn’t hearing Celine on the radio, and I also had lost a lot of interest in her by that point. I can say that Celine has a good voice, but the quality of the material she has recorded has definitely gone down over the years. However, I still enjoy the songs Celine released early in her English language music career.

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