The older I get, the less chill I am about Celine Dion.
It’s a progression that’s lasted pretty much my whole life. Beauty and the Beast was one of the first movies I ever remember watching, and I grew up during the time when she cornered the market on movie theme songs, so her music was always there whether I wanted to hear it or not. In my teens, the times I would go back to her work would be motivated purely by nostalgic instincts (“Oh, this is what childhood sounded like! Remember childhood, Sarah?”). When I first got to college, I was so concerned with making friends in a city where I knew nobody that I tried my best to hide whatever quirks others might consider too weird. Alone in my dorm room, however, I felt her music and I took comfort in it.
Now, I’m a grown-ass woman who stopped caring about what others think of my interests and found friends who love me in spite of my quirks, fully embracing Celine’s music in all its sheer power. I woke up at 3:15 on a grossly humid July morning to stand in the back of Rockefeller Plaza while she sang a handful of songs on the TODAY show (and it was SO worth it). I understand zero French and basically whip out my best Joey Tribbiani impression when singing along to Encore un soir, but that album was all I listened to for weeks after it was released (HOW is it so good? HOW?!). I bonded with people at work over this, to the point that every time she releases something new or makes an appearance somewhere, it becomes an EVENT at the office. I just really love Celine Dion. And that’s the way it is.
If I had something or someone to guide me towards some of the lesser-known songs, I probably would have lost my chill a lot faster. You can pick out a greatest hits album and it will no doubt be satisfying; there will never be a time when I’m not stunned by the force that is her singing voice when I hear any of her most popular songs. But if you solely focus on the hits, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of phenomenal tunes. Her signature songs are famous for a reason, but those songs are merely scratching the surface. So I decided to put together a list of ten songs to check out for those times when you’re looking for something more than the hits. And to the hesitant, to the resistant, to the casual fan who is only familiar with the classics, I just have one question.
What do you say to taking chances?
If you like “The Power of Love,” you’ll love “Alone”
“The Power of Love” is so strongly tied to Celine for me. It’s HER song. Then I found out she didn’t do it first, and everything I knew became a lie (turns out it was a Jennifer Rush song, and then an Air Supply song, and then a Laura Branigan song, before it became a Celine Dion song. I just…what?!?!). Once I got past the shock of it all, it just showed me how this woman has mastered the art of the cover song. She owns it, like she went over to all the artists who came before her and said, “This is mine now.” For more proof that Celine absolutely slays any 80’s song that comes her way, check out her cover of Heart’s “Alone,” off of the Taking Chances album. I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first picked up the album, and had a very “Are we talking about the same song?” moment. For me, it was another one of those songs that couldn’t possibly be done by anyone other than the artists I knew (when will I learn?). The second I heard it, though, I couldn’t believe I ever doubted it. The intensity and emotion of the song are still there; she just tailored it to fit her style, and knocked it out of the park. Celine is as much of a badass as Heart, and it comes through here.
Although now, part of me wants to know how she’d handle “Barracuda.” You know…just for kicks.
If you like “To Love You More,” you’ll love “Seduces Me”
Oh man, “To Love You More.” How can anyone possibly resist this song? Everything about it works: the sentiment behind the lyrics, her passion, the crazy amazing violinist. The way the whole thing is structured is brilliant; the day I realized the point of that pause (“I’ll be………WAIIIIIITING for youuuuuu…”) was to make you wait like she was waiting was a very good day. Because I see what you did there, Celine. And I love what you did there. If you want something with the gist of “To Love You More,” but with a slower burn, there’s always the ridiculously sensual “Seduces Me,” off of Falling Into You. For real, where the hell did this song come from? It’s not even fair to catch me so off guard. And I know it’s not just me, because this is what happened after she performed it during the A New Day show in Vegas:
SAME, CELINE. SAME. If the point of “Seduces Me” was to do just that, then mission accomplished. Because damn, lady. Your song is hot.
If you like “Because You Loved Me,” you’ll love “There Comes a Time”
When I was a kid, the beach my family went to every summer had a recording studio on the boardwalk. It was essentially a karaoke performance you could take home with you; if you paid money, you could either record a cassingle (remember those?) or a music video of you singing along to a pre-recorded track. The year “Because You Loved Me” came out, I dragged my dad into one of the recording booths and proudly belted—and butchered—the classic while Dad sang some solid backup (the cassette is still lingering around somewhere and I’m terrified to find it). Twenty years later, in a karaoke bar a few blocks away from my apartment, I discovered that my “Because You Loved Me” abilities improved zero percent. But my god, is that a good song. And since it’s from Up Close and Personal, it’s one of those great examples of how she dominated movie themes of the ‘90s.
I paired this with “There Comes a Time,” because you essentially get the other side of the coin if you listen to the lyrics, and there’s a great give and take between this and “Because You Loved Me.” The whole point of “Because You Loved Me” is to celebrate all the wonderful ways that having someone’s love affects you. And while this song is saying, “Look at all the things you’ve done for me,” “There Comes a Time” flips it to say, “Look at all the things I’ll do for you.” It’s still about love and loyalty; it’s just from a different perspective. The feel of the music in “There Comes a Time” is a little bit darker, but its angle is the more serious of the two, the angle of ensuring your love knows that they don’t have to walk this earth alone. Separately, both of these songs are amazing, but together, they tell a story of reciprocating love. And isn’t reciprocating love the ultimate end game?
If you like “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” you’ll love “Somebody Loves Somebody”
Tell me “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” isn’t one of the most epic songs you’ve ever heard in your life, and I’ll show you a dirty liar. Because this song is EPIC, in all of its seven-and-a-half-minute glory (and the music video…what even is that music video? I love it so much). It’s in the instrumentation. It’s in her voice. It’s in the BABY-BABY-BABYs that you have to perform with your whole body every time you sing along (although I’m of the persuasion that if you’re not at least using your arms every time you sing along to Celine, you’re not doing it right). This is without a doubt my favorite of her signature songs, because even at the tender age of six, it made me stand at attention. And after twenty years, it still won’t let me sit the hell down. (It apparently won’t let Jeremy Jordan sit down, either. His rendition is FABULOUS.)
More recently, I had another stand at attention experience when I decided to throw on one of those pre-made playlists on Amazon Prime that was filled with Celine, to have some background music while I read. After a few of the usual suspects, “Somebody Loves Somebody” came on, and I lost my damn mind. My exact thought process was this: “What is happening? This is not the Celine of my childhood. I need this in my ears all the time. GIVE ME ALL THE SONGS SHE’S SUNG.” This was the game-changer, the thing that flipped the switch in my head from casual fan to “OH MY GOD CELINE.” I don’t know how it’s possible to sound exactly like yourself and nothing like yourself at the same time, but she did it, and she did it flawlessly. If you haven’t heard the Loved Me Back to Life album, I urge you to stop depriving yourself. It’s something that can turn even the most resistant person into an instant fan. Just don’t be surprised if you have to put “Somebody Loves Somebody” on repeat forty-five times before exploring the rest of the songs.
If you like “My Heart Will Go On,” you’ll love “Then You Look at Me”
Stop pretending like you hate “My Heart Will Go On.” You love that song. I love that song. Everybody loves that song, no matter how much they try to resist. And that’s okay, because it exploded for a reason, and that reason will always be there. In her autobiography, Celine wrote that she had the beginnings of the flu while she recorded that song. SERIOUSLY?! I feel the slightest bit off, and I climb into bed and watch Law & Order: SVU until I fall asleep. She’s sick and she still sings like that? Celine is a musical wizard, and we are not worthy. It’s not like there’s much out there that can top this one, but “Then You Look at Me” is a pretty decent song to follow it up with. It was written by the same guys who wrote “My Heart Will Go On,” and it was another one of her songs that was tied to a movie (Titanic was a lot more successful than Bicentennial Man—and also pretty much every other movie—which is probably why “Then You Look at Me” is a little more under the radar than “My Heart Will Go On”). The penny whistle was traded for a more modern sound, but rest assured, girl still knows how to turn out a beautiful song.
Or, looking at it from another angle, “Then You Look at Me” can be the song you hold on to while you’re still pretending like “My Heart Will Go On” isn’t one of the best songs you’ve ever heard. But it’s been nineteen years since Titanic, so maybe we should finally drop all pretenses, okay?
If you like “That’s the Way It Is,” you’ll love “One Heart”
I know Kim would never forgive me if I left “That’s the Way It Is” off the list, but also I’m not a monster and this was already on the list before I even had a clear idea of what the hell I was doing here. This song! It makes me want to believe in love again, and I never even gave up on it in the first place; clearly the whole “Celine Dion = musical wizard” theory can be applied here as well. If you can’t get enough of the message, “One Heart” is a great follow-up. It’s got the same bubbly feel, the same uplifting outlook on love, and is just a pure gem to listen to. It’s impossible to feel sad when you hear either of these songs. Each of them is the perfect pick-me-up, and there’s always a backup if the first one didn’t quite do the trick. She’s got you covered.
If you like “A New Day Has Come,” you’ll love “A New Day Has Come”
Yeah. You read that right.
This is not a mistake, although when I first saw the track list to the A New Day Has Come album, I thought it was (I thought about how the track list of Bobbie Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe is printed in the wrong order on the back cover, and figured it was something like that. Oops). Look, I love the radio remix. It’s fun, it’s bright. It’s pop at its best. But when I heard the slower piano version, it felt like I had just discovered a completely new meaning to the song. One of my favorite things in the world is when the lyrics of a song prove to be completely versatile when you change the tempo, or the instrumentation, or anything else about the music. Where the radio remix is celebratory, the piano version is more introspective, almost as if she discovered something about herself in those few minutes, and needed to share it with the world. And there is something so extremely satisfying in listening to a song like that.
If you like “I’m Alive,” you’ll love “You and I”
There aren’t a ton of lyrics to “I’m Alive,” which makes it easy to sing along to, which is probably why “You’ve set my heart on fiii-yahh” is the line that gets stuck in my head more than most lines in the history of song. It’s an uncomplicated concept though, so why bog it down with unnecessary lyrics? “I’m Alive” is sweet, to the point, and infectious in the best way. But if words are your thing, allow me to direct you towards “You and I.” It says all of the things that “I’m Alive” does, it’s catchy as hell, and it’s exactly how you expect Celine to sound. As much as I love things like Loved Me Back to Life for completely surprising me, sometimes I just want something that’s linked to the way her music has sounded to me throughout my childhood. And both of these songs meet that purpose so well.
In short, “You and I” is basically “I’m Alive,” if “I’m Alive” had about 65% more words and a way more present flight metaphor (I mean…the video for it takes place in a goddamn airport, you guys).
If you like “I Drove All Night,” you’ll love “Eyes on Me”
Okay, but how fun is “I Drove All Night?” And how tailor-made for a car commercial (so did Chrysler commission the One Heart album or something? Because she was a spokesperson for them around this time, they used a lot of that album for an ad campaign, their logo is weirdly prominent in the album art, and the whole partnership just seems really bizarre to me. But I’ll take it?). Blatant advertising or not, this is just another example of her masterful handle on cover songs. And it’s another one of those songs that you can’t help but put your whole heart into whenever you sing along. It is 100% alright.
This match was a tough one for me, because I wanted to find something with the same drive (crappy pun not intended) and nothing really clicked for me. Then I randomly decided to listen to this alongside “Eyes on Me” from Taking Chances, and thought it was an interesting juxtaposition. (But also, I just unabashedly love “Eyes on Me,” and will make anyone within arm’s reach listen to it because it’s SO GOOD.) Taking the potential to sell cars out of the equation, “I Drove All Night” totally constitutes a first love thing, making this wonderfully grand gesture because you’re so consumed by the feelings you have for this other person. “Eyes on Me,” on the other hand, adds a dash of cynicism to the proceedings. The Celine of “Eyes on Me” is a woman who has been burned by love before, and is putting her foot down, like “No, listen, I love you, but this is what’s going to happen.”
If you like “Taking Chances,” you’ll love “Didn’t Know Love”
I absolutely LOVED “Taking Chances” when it first came out. And then The Biggest Loser used it for a promo and kind of ruined it for me for a little while (like “’What do you say to taking chances?’ Because we’re probably going to fuck up your overall health and well-being. But maybe we won’t?”). Thankfully, enough time has passed for me to circle back to loving it, because it really is a beautiful song with a beautiful sentiment. And I think “Didn’t Know Love” off of Loved Me Back to Life is a perfect complement to that sentiment.
If you haven’t realized it by now, I love putting songs together that can form some sort of narrative, and this pairing is another one of those. “Didn’t Know Love” is a gorgeous rumination about life after those chances have been taken. What I love about this song is that it could have easily been a cookie cutter “Isn’t love grand, especially now that I have you?” kind of thing, but it takes a different path. It doesn’t sugarcoat things. One of my favorite lines is, “This is more beautiful and frightening than I’ve ever known.” Doesn’t that kind of sum it all up? The story doesn’t just wrap up cleanly because you found the love you’ve been looking for; there’s work, there are hard times, and it’s not always smooth sailing. But it is so worth taking chances to find the one who challenges you and stimulates you in one fell swoop.
BONUS: If you like “Recovering,” you’ll love “Fly”
Fine, so this isn’t a signature song (yet. It’s only a matter of time, right?), but since it’s the latest single, why not include it? Because I still haven’t heard anything about a new English album, and I’m therefore taking whatever I can get. “Recovering” was the first thing I heard when it dropped in early September, and I was not prepared to feel all of those feelings THAT early in the morning (PRO TIP: do not watch clips of her performing this live in public places such as the office, unless you’re really comfortable with crying all over your desk. I may or may not know this from experience). It proved two things to me: that Celine will never lose that stunning ability to flawlessly convey emotion in her music, and that P!nk needs to write all of the songs for all of the people.
“Recovering” is clearly in regards to the death of her husband, but this isn’t the first time she’s dealt with loss in her music. After her niece, Karine, passed away from cystic fibrosis in 1993, Celine recorded “Vole,” which she later released in English as “Fly” on Falling Into You. The emotion in both “Fly” and “Recovering” is so overwhelmingly powerful; it makes your heart ache. These songs are incredibly real, and in a landscape of overproduced pop, the raw emotion in her voice makes her stand out among the crowd.
What are your favorite Celine Dion songs? Are there deep cuts you love that aren’t listed here? Let’s chat in the comments.