Dubbed Quebec's answer to Whitney Houston, the bilingual Celine Dion is a gifted powerhouse pop vocalist performer and one of the most successful female recording artists of the past several decades. From a French-language teen music sensation in Canada and France, she has blossomed into an international pop superstar, whilst still remaining grounded in her roots. Come 1990, two years after winning the Eurovision song contest by representing Switzerland (which is a fact I still can't believe to this day), Celine released her first English language LP, Unison, and ever since then, her career in the 1990s into the early 2000s skyrocketed. Her third English offering, The Colour of My Love, which included hits in the Jennifer Rush cover, The Power of Love & Think Twice, broke ground, selling 20 million worldwide and then came the follow-ups, such as 1996's Falling Into You (my favourite album of hers) that had great songs with notable hits, the meatloaf-inspired, It's All Coming Back To Me Now and If That's What It Takes. That album sold 32 million worldwide, followed by A New Day Has Come in 2002, whereby Celine released her first 2000s-based album and one that was arguably more adventurous, ambitious and sounding more versatile, outside of her norm.
Those huge, overblown ballads, well, but for say 1997's My Heart Will Go On taken from the Titanic movie soundtrack, & I'd add perhaps the arid cover of Eric Carmen's All By Myself, have become profound and meaningful. Yet without regards to, she has come in for a lot of stick from critics and the equally sprawling masses, - with some accusing her of relying too much on pop & R&B conventions and for the excessive, over-the-top emoting and wabbling in her records. The disdain and ridicule of Celine from all quarters is mostly by virtue of her biggest and schmaltziest hit songs and their sentimentality lovey-dovey factor, which is the main complainant, that gets under people's skin. The term 'sentimental' means several things: sweet, tender, touching, poignant, sad... and there is the other end of the spectrum: adjectives in 'saccharine, syrupy, cringeworthy, corny, over-emotive', are often banded around by people with regards to Celine's love songs. It is quite the contrary with her Francophone releases whereby there is rarely an overbearing ballad in sight. Regardless, be it in French or English, whenever she sings, it is just too good. If people dug deep enough into her discography, they'd see to it there is more to Celine than just the 'Titanic song' that she is mostly well-known for.
Celine Dion has been grouped in the same category as Whitney and Mariah Carey when it comes to power ballads and their powerfully rich and raw vocals & massive pipes dominated the bulk of 1990s Western pop music. For someone who didn't learn English until the late 1980s and of whom ultimately sang songs in English, and this helped her sell millions of records, this is quite an accomplishment coming from Celine.
1. That's The Way It Is (1999); one of Celine's rarest, best and positive mid-tempo numbers, but also it is the much-needed welcome to her back catalogue, defying naysayers that she is not 'cool' enough to be able to embrace this current - or be it then latter 1990s- style of pop music, and alas, it represented a bold move for a singer who is predominately known for her ballads - and it paid off, brilliantly. It's lively, youthful, at the time of its release, That's The Way It Is was completely unanticipated from Celine, and by teaming up with the writers and producers behind the hits for Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, it thus resulted in another smash hit for the Canadian superstar.
''when you want it the most there's no easy way out, when you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt, don't give up on your faith, love comes to those who believe it, and that's the way it is''
2. When The Wrong One Loves You Right (2001) - A New Day Has Come; this is almost in the similar vein to Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down and to an extent, That's The Way It Is, only it is poppier, snappier, and, like the latter, it's a Max Martin production, courtesy of its catchier melodies and riffs. This should have been officially released as a single and through its production values, this was primed for radio airplay; if this had been the case, When The Wrong One... would have easily surged its way to the #1 spot. This is one of my personal favourites of hers.
''I can't stop, can't fight, can't resist it, when the wrong one loves you right (oh.... yeah), can't run, can't hide, can't say no, when the wrong one loves you right (oh...., when the wrong one loves you right''
3. Pour que tu m'aimes encore/If That's What It Takes (1995) - Falling Into You; French version, English version, it's still the same song, regardless, although I have a fondness for this one as Pour que tu m'ames encore, as Celine vocally sounds even more beautiful. I think in English, it feels more rosy, confident, uplifting, defiant, whilst in French, it is more emotive, touching and flowing. This is also her most memorable French song.
''J'irai chercher ton coeur si tu I'emportes ailleurs, meme si dans tes danses d'autres dansent tes heures, jirai chercher ton ame dans les froids dans les flammes, je te jetterai des sorts pour que tu m'aimes encore''/''when the storm rises up, when the shadows descend, ev'ry beat of my heart, ev'ry day without end, ev'ry second I live, that's the promise I make, baby, that's what I'll give, if that's what it takes, if that's what it takes''
4. Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down (1993) - The Colour of My Love; A mid-tempo New Jack Swing number and a second stab at R&B, following on from Love Can Move Mountains, Celine belts out this underrated classic (and that's classic as in oldie, but a goodie also) effortlessly. What more can I add, but that Everybody's Talkin'... is a fabulous song.
''momma says he's bad for me, poppa says I'll be sorry, everybody's talkin' my baby down, and all my friends doubt him, tell me I should live without him, everybody's talkin' my baby down''
5. Nothing Broken But My Heart (1992) - Celine Dion; Diane Warren is credited for this early Celine ballad and it is taken from her second English- language LP, the self-titled, Celine. As I get older, I appreciate this one far more than I did before. The ending gives me goosebumps, especially. Nothing Broken But My Heart could have been a corny-sounding pop ballad, - yet Celine Dion makes it so incredibly good with an emotionally powerful vocal performance.
''oh baby, since you left me, you might think that my world's been torn apart, but if you see me, baby you'll see that, nothing's broken but my heart''
6. The Power of Love (1993) - The Colour of My Love; There have been several versions of this song released and dotted around on YouTube, but Celine's cover is my favourite: I prefer her vocals over Jennifer Rush's (who did the original) and Laura Branigan's and the production in this one, which gives this track that extra kick, is even better. As power ballads go, they come no bigger than the likes of The Power of Love and there is no voice bigger than say Celine Dion's to deliver it in such rousing and immaculate fashion, as she does here. As the power ballad wears on, she ups the ante and with that, it granted Celine her first U.S #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart when it was released in 1994.
''....sometimes I am frightened but I'm ready to learn of the power of love''
7. Dreamin' of You (1995) - Falling Into You; this was released as a promo single in Mexico, but otherwise, it remained an album only track. Dreamin' of You was penned by Aldo Nova, who was also responsible for the chart-topper, A New Day Has Come. It is without question, one of her finest, as well as musically & lyrically sweeping songs, ever and is yet another highlight from the brilliant, Falling Into You LP.
''you're the one I'm dreaming of, I can't live without your love, tonight, and it's you that I adore, you're the one I live for, inside, of you, I'm dreamin' of you''
8. Think Twice (1993) - The Colour of my Love; This was Celine's biggest ballad hit, years before My Heart Will Go On took over that mantle. When Think Twice spent several weeks at #1 in the UK, I got sick of listening to it. But these days, over the last 2 decades, it appears that the latter (IMO) was overrated, whilst the former was and still is underrated one should think twice (see what I did there) before ignoring this one. Part soft-rock, part- adult contemporary pop, I'll take this song over 1997's (virtually insufferable) classic that was on the soundtrack to the movie, Titanic.
''don't say what you're about to say, look back before you leave my life, be sure before you closed that door, before you roll those dice, baby think twice''
9. Somebody Loves Somebody (2013) - Loved Me Back To Life; taken from her 11th English studio album, it sounds very modern & in line with the current, or be it then-current music scene, it deserved a music video, as well as a single release. By evoking such raw emotion, it sounds radically different from the stuff she has put out in the 1990s and early 2000s. But in the snappy, fresh & curious -yet unwavering, Somebody Love Somebody, it just shows that Celine can produce a song, and one with a catchy chorus to boot, that can attract and appeal towards both younger and older fans.
''when somebody loves somebody, that's the way it's supposed to be, 'cause you know nobody else would put up with your games, oh, I don't believe you, lover, you don't wanna go, no, that's not the way it is when somebody loves somebody''
10. Did You Give Enough Love (1992) - Celine Dion; Another early 1990s Celine R&B jam but also a very rare one too, before she became the big star that she is today, with the singer trying something different to what we usually expect from her. It is very unexpected - and still, it majestically works. The music video is a little reminiscent of Madonna's Erotica with Celine looking demure and its Black & White footage. This is a gem of a bop for sure.
''did you give enough love, did you show that you cared? when I needed understanding were you really there? Whenever I was down, did you try to pick me up? Maybe you should ask yourself, did you give enough love? Did you give enough love?''
*Honourable Mentions: Destin, Misled, Because You Loved Me, Little Bit of Love, I'm Your Angel, Treat Her Like A Lady (feat. Diana King & Brownstone), A New Day Has Come (Radio remix), Where Does My Heart Beat Now, Only One Road, Next Plane Out, Real Emotion, Love Doesn't Ask Why, Lovin' Proof, Love Can Move Mountains, Water From The Moon, River Deep Mountain High, Falling Into You, It's All Coming Back To Me Now, Miles to Go (Before I Sleep), Where is the Love?, Makes You Happy, Right In Front of Me, Rain, Tax (It's Inevitable), Super Love, Aun existe amor, Love Is All We Need, Your Light, On ne change pas, I'm Alive, If You Asked Me To, Coulda Woulda Shoulda, Goodbye's The Saddest Word, Des mots qui sonnet, Have a Heart