As a Canadian, I’m proud to say this is the first Celine album I’ve ever listened to enough to review. I did try to review the soundtrack to Titanic before I realized it was mostly a score. And my stepfather, or someone had Unison, which I may have listed to at some point. And, of course, being Canadian, I have heard the vast majority of her English-language hits many, many, many times. But this is the first album, I think.
Celine is an interpretive singer, i.e. she sings other people’s songs. In this case, the material is a mixture of covers of existing material and material written specifically for her. (That’s usually the case for interpretive singers.)
It starts off with a cover of Jim Steinman’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” not a hit for Steinman’s girl group. (You’re shocked to hear that Jim Steinman had an unsuccessful girl group, I know.) In case you were wondering, it is the most Jim Steinman of Jim Steinman songs and it does feel as though he’s found another music in Celine. Celine is, if anything, more over the top than Meatloaf. (Which is, um, saying something.) And this ridiculous song takes Bat Out of Hell to it’s logical conclusion in a less obnoxious way than Bat Out of Hell II did. Is that a good thing? Not really, but at least it’s fun.
“Because You Loved Me” was written specifically for Celine by Diane Warren. For reasons I cannot explain, I thought it was a different singer when I was young. And I think that’s a compliment that implies that Celine is relatively restrained on this song that you undoubtedly remember.
There are 15 tracks on this album – or, if you’re unlucky like me, 16 – and there’s no way I’m actually going through each of them. I just wanted to mention the two biggest songs before I get to the hilarious covers:
Celine and her team decided the world needed new versions of “All By Myself,” “River Deep, Mountain High” and, if you’re unlucky enough to listen to the expanded Asian edition like I was, “A Natural Woman.” Let’s first mention that none of these songs needed new versions. They have iconic versions already. (Well, “All By Myself” is famous. It’s not iconic. But you get it: we know the song really well as a society.) Celine doesn’t do much to “All By Myself” except make it more ridiculous. She is not Aretha and her version of “A Natural Woman” is, shockingly, not as good as Aretha’s. And her version of “River Deep, Mountain” high is the worst thing here – a ridiculous ’90s pop version of a classic pop soul song. Every time I hear it my ears bleed.
The rest of the stuff was written for her, and includes French songs from her previous French-language album, which is apparently something that need to happen to, um, pad this out.
As others have noted, the records biggest flaw, regardless of what you think of Celine, is its absolutely absurd length. (An hour and 12 minutes.) I don’t like Celine as a singer, though I understand she has an extraordinary voice. She over-sings almost all the time as she seems desperate to let you know she has an incredible voice. But I could almost get into how unbelievably over-the-top this all is, if it was, say, 44 minutes long. I would be enjoying it ironically, much like I “enjoy” Meatloaf, but I might actually think to myself that her absurd delivery and production is fun. But over an hour of this eliminates any goodwill that Celine-doing-Meatloaf might have generated in my soul at the beginning of said hour.
Add those offensively bland covers, and you’ve got yourself one of those records that sold so much it makes you sad.