My Heart Will Go On

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"My Heart Will Go On"
Celine dion-my heart will go on s.jpg
One of the international cover arts
Single by Celine Dion
from the album Let's Talk About Love and Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture
Released 8 December 1997 (1997-12-08)
Format
Recorded
Length
  • 4:39 (album version)
  • 5:11 (soundtrack version)
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Celine Dion singles chronology
"The Reason"
(1997)
"My Heart Will Go On"
(1997)
"Immortality"
(1998)
Music sample

"My Heart Will Go On", also called the "Love Theme from Titanic", is the main theme song to James Cameron's blockbuster film Titanic. Its music was composed by James Horner, its lyrics were written by Will Jennings, and it was produced by Walter Afanasieff and Simon Franglen,[1] recorded by Celine Dion, and released in 1997.[2]

Originally released in 1997 on Dion's album Let's Talk About Love and the Titanic soundtrack album, the romantic song went to number 1 all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia. "My Heart Will Go On" was released in Australia and Germany on 8 December 1997, and in the rest of the world in January and February 1998.[3]

The song became Dion's biggest hit, and one of the best-selling singles of all time, and was the world's best-selling single of 1998. The music video was directed by Bille Woodruff and released at the end of 1997. Due to the song's widespread popularity when it was released, it is considered to be Dion's signature song.[4] It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Origins[edit]

James Horner had originally composed the music for the song as an instrumental motif which he used in several scenes during Titanic; the main theme of the song being inspired by the song Flying Dutchman by Jethro Tull. He then wanted to prepare a full vocal version of it, for use in the end credits of the film. Lyricist Will Jennings was hired, who wrote the lyrics "from the point of view of a person of a great age looking back so many years."[5] Director James Cameron did not want such a song, but Will Jennings went ahead anyway and wrote the lyrics. When Dion originally heard the song, she did not want to record it[6] as she felt she was pushing her luck by singing another film theme song after Beauty and the Beast.[5] Horner showed the piano sketch to Simon Franglen, who was working with him on electronic textures and synthesizers for the film score. Franglen, who had, himself, worked with Dion for several years on many of her major hits to date,[7] programmed and arranged an extensive demo to take to Dion.

Recording[edit]

In Hitmaker: The Man and His Music by Tommy Mottola, he claims that Dion recorded the song in one take, and that demo is what was released. Mottola states that since so much money was on the line for Cameron's film that Cameron felt obligated to include a theme song to promote the movie.[citation needed]

Dion's manager and husband René Angélil convinced her to sing on this demo version, which she had not done for many years. Horner waited until Cameron was in an appropriate mood before presenting him with the song. After playing it several times, Cameron declared his approval, even though he worried that he might be criticized for "going commercial at the end of the movie". Cameron also wanted to appease anxious studio executives and "saw that a hit song from his movie could only be a positive factor in guaranteeing its completion."[8]

Composition[edit]

The song is written in the key of E major, though the chorus is in the relative key of C# minor. The verses follow the chord progression of E–Bsus4–Aadd9–E–B. The chorus has the chord progression of C♯m–B–A–B. The song modulates to F minor in the final chorus, and ends in the key of Ab major.[9] It contains heavy emphasis on the instrumental arranging. Usage of flute is prominent, backed by melodic use of strings and rhythm guitars. The song features both acoustic and electronic instrumentation. Dion's vocal performance is described as "emotional" and "demanding" by Pandora radio.[10]

Versions[edit]

The original Horner/Franglen produced "demo" version of the ballad runs a little over five minutes and has an extended ending with longer, segmented vocalizations by Dion. Franglen mixed the final film and soundtrack version, expanding on the demo and adding orchestra to the final chorus. It is this version that appears on the Titanic soundtrack album and is also played over the ending credits of the film.[11]

When the single was to be released to radio, it was produced further by Walter Afanasieff who added string and electric guitar, as well as rearranged portions of the song. This version, which runs a little over four and a half minutes, appears on both the 4-track maxi single and Dion's album Let's Talk About Love.[12] At the height of the song's popularity, some radio stations in the US and the UK played an edited version of the song, that had dramatic moments of dialog from the Jack and Rose lead characters in the film inserted in between Dion's vocal lines.

Critical reception[edit]

"My Heart Will Go On" received mixed reviews from contemporary critics, but later on received a cult following with positive reviews. AllMusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine in album wrote that this song "shines the most brilliantly" and marked it as a standout track.[13] In an AllMusic review for single editor Heather Phares, rating the single 4 out 5 stars, wrote: "Indeed, her performances of it on VH1 Divas, the 1998 Academy Awards (wearing the film's "Heart of the Ocean" pendant, no less), and on her 1997 album Let's Talk About Love have cemented "My Heart Will Go On" as the quintessence of Dion's sweeping, romantic style."[14] However, not all the reception "My Heart Will Go On" received was positive. Despite the song's immense popularity, Rolling Stone readers rated it the 7th worst song of the '90s in 2011, writing "Celine Dion's song and the movie have aged very poorly...Now [the song] probably just makes you cringe".[15] Yahoo.com described the song as an "emotional power ballad that perfectly captured [Titanic's] romantic yearning".[5] Vulture admitted that song had "“one of the most glorious key changes in recorded music history."[16] Washington Post appreciated how the song was not just tagged on the end of the 3 hour film, but has a lyrical motif that was already placed throughout the key moments of the film's love story in order to create a musical narrative.[17]

As "My Heart Will Go On" proved not to be popular with the readers of Rolling Stone magazine nor did it become popular with Kate Winslet, who played Rose DeWitt Bukater – the notional protagonist of the song – in the film. She admitted that the song made her feel "like throwing up", due to people's tendency to start playing it when she was around: "I wish I could say, 'Oh listen, everybody! It's the Celine Dion song!' But I don't. I just have to sit there, you know, kind of straight-faced with a massive internal eye roll."[18] Vulture explained that it has become fashionable to hate on the song, as it "encapsulates most everything that once-enthusiastic moviegoers now dislike about Titanic: It's outdated, cheesy, and overly dramatic".[16] The Atlantic noted that over the years there have been many jokes that parody the song's lyrics by claiming "My Heart Will Go On" goes "on and on and on".[19] Maxim deemed it "the second most tragic event ever to result from that fabled ocean liner".[19]

Accolades[edit]

"My Heart Will Go On" won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Original Song.[20] It dominated the 1999 Grammy Awards, winning Record of the Year — marking the first time to be won by a Canadian — Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.[21] "My Heart Will Go On" won also the Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Song – Motion Picture" in 1998.[22]

The song also won a Japanese Gold Disc Award, for Song of the Year,[23] as well as a Billboard Music Award for Soundtrack Single of the Year.[24][25]

In a 2006 poll for a program on Five called Britain's Favourite Break-up Songs, "My Heart Will Go On" was voted tenth. It has been named one of the Songs of the Century.[26] It is one of the best-selling singles ever in the United Kingdom,[27] selling over a million copies, the second single released by Dion to do so. This made Dion the only female artist to date to have released two million-selling singles in Britain.[28] It was ranked at number 14 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs, celebrating the 100 greatest songs in American film history.[29] In April 2010, the UK radio station Magic 105.4 voted the single the "top movie song of all time" after listeners's votes.[30] In December 2007, the song peaked #21 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90's".[31]

Chart success[edit]

"My Heart Will Go On" became Dion's biggest hit and one of the best-selling singles in history, having sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.[32] In the United States, the song was given a limited number of copies - 658,000. Regardless, it debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, with sales of 360,000 copies,[33] where it stayed for two weeks. In addition, the song spent ten weeks at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay, and was number one for two weeks on the Hot 100 Singles Sales. As a testament to the popularity of the song on the radio, the song broke the record for the then-largest radio audience ever, garnering 117 million listeners in February 1998.[34] The single was eventually certified gold in the United States.[35] Billboard reported that the digital copy of the single has sold 1,133,000 units since being available bringing total sales to 1,791,000 copies sold in the US.[36]

In addition "My Heart Will Go On" reached number one in several other U.S. charts, including, Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks,[33] Top 40 Mainstream,[33] Hot Latin Pop Airplay, and Hot Latin Tracks. For the latter, the single became the first English-language song to top the Hot Latin Tracks chart,[33] to which Dion was given a Billboard Latin Music Award for that achievement.

Internationally, the song was phenomenally successful, spending many weeks at the top position in various countries, including 17 weeks on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, 15 weeks in Switzerland, 13 weeks in France and Germany, 11 weeks in the Netherlands and Sweden, ten weeks in Belgium Wallonia, Denmark, Italy, and Norway, seven weeks in Belgium Flanders, six weeks in Ireland, four weeks in Australia and Austria, two weeks in Spain and the United Kingdom, and one week in Finland.

In Germany, "My Heart Will Go On" was certified 4x platinum for selling over two million copies,[37] and was ranked as one of the most popular singles ever released there.[38] It sold over 1.2 million copies in France, being certified Diamond. Additionally, the song was certified 3× Platinum in Belgium, 2× Platinum in Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, Platinum in Greece, and Gold in Austria. "My Heart Will Go On" was released twice in Japan. The regular edition from January 1998 sold 205,300 and was certified 2× Platinum, for 200,000 copies sold. The remixed edition released in June 1998 sold 111,920 copies and was certified Gold for 100,000 copies sold, due the fact that maxi-singles are treated as an album.

In the United Kingdom, the song sold 1.5 million copies,[39] becoming Dion's second million-selling single in Britain following "Think Twice" in 1995 and Britain's second best-selling single of 1998 behind Cher's "Believe".[40] This made her the only solo female artist to have two million-selling singles in Britain, a record which stood until early 2012 when Rihanna's singles "Only Girl (In the World)" (2010) and "We Found Love" (2011) both topped a million sales.[41]

Album appearances[edit]

The song was included on the All the Way... A Decade of Song & Video DVD and on the Titanic (Three-Disc Special Collector's Edition) DVD release in 25 October 2005. In addition to Dion's Let's Talk About Love and the Titanic soundtrack, "My Heart Will Go On" appears on several other albums, including VH1 Divas Live, Au cœur du stade, All the Way... A Decade of Song, A New Day... Live in Las Vegas, Complete Best, My Love: Essential Collection, Taking Chances World Tour: The Concert, and Céline... une seule fois / Live 2013. It was also included on the DVDs for Au cœur du stade, All the Way... A Decade of Song & Video, Live in Las Vegas: A New Day..., and Celine: Through the Eyes of the World.

It was included later on the Back to Titanic second soundtrack album. In France, "My Heart Will Go On" was released as a double A-side single with "The Reason". In the Let's Talk about Love album booklet, the lyrics of the song contain an additional line between a second chorus and the final verse. The words "There is some love that will not go away" are not performed by Dion in any available version of the song, however, they are still included on Dion's official site.

Influence[edit]

The song became "imprinted on the movie's legacy", and every listen prompts a reminder of the blockbuster and the hype surrounding it.[19] USA Today agreed that the song will be forever tied to the film Titanic.[42] The Washington Post says it is the marriage of music and image that make both the song and film greater than the sum of their parts.[17]

After the song had become a huge worldwide hit, many movie studios and record labels tried to duplicate the process. Although many soundtrack singles had become hits before "My Heart Will Go On", a string of similar songs followed afterward, such as Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from Armageddon and Faith Hill's "There You'll Be" from Pearl Harbor (both of which directed by Michael Bay). Each followed in the footsteps of the "Titanic" theme, a love ballad for a tragedy. Although those two songs became hits, they did not achieve the same success of "My Heart Will Go On".

Horner himself repeated the formula of making a song from his film themes with films such as A Beautiful Mind, Bicentennial Man, The Perfect Storm, and Avatar.

The Atlantic noted that its popularity didn't stem from being played at events such as high school proms, weddings, and funerals, but by being indelibly placed into pop culture through numerous plays on the radio station, speakers, and passing cars.[19]

Reportedly, the song was playing when the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks and sank.[19]

Dion has said retrospectively "My Heart Will Go On gave me the opportunity to be associated with a classic that will live forever".[43]

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[103] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[104] Gold 25,000*
Belgium (BEA)[105] 3× Platinum 150,000*
France (SNEP)[106] Diamond 1,200,000[107]
Germany (BVMI)[108] 4× Platinum 2,000,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[109]
Single version
2× Platinum 200,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[110]
Dance mixes
Gold 100,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[111]
Ringtone version
Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[112] Gold 30,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[113] 2× Platinum 150,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[114] 2× Platinum 40,000*
Sweden (GLF)[115] 2× Platinum 60,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[116] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[117] 2× Platinum 1,560,000[118]
United States (RIAA)[119] Platinum 1,791,000[120]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other recordings[edit]

  • Sissel Kyrkjebø recorded the song for the movie in 1997, but Celine Dion's vocals was preferred due to James Horner decision to support Dion carriere.[121][122][123][124][125] In a interview from December 2014, Horner quotes; "When I had completed the Titanic [movie], I had to decide for Celine Dion or Sissel['s] [vocals]. Sissel I am very close, while Celine I had known since she was 18, and I had already written three film songs for [here]. But that was before Celine was known and filmmakers and marketing people had not done what they should have done for Celine and [here] songs. So I felt I owed her a Titanic chance, but I could [still] have used Sissel there." [126]

In popular culture[edit]

  • On 11 September 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the song No. 11 on his list of the "100 Worst Songs Ever", while stating a new rule: "From now on, the Canadian warbler, and not the captain, has to go down with this ship." This was in reference to the Titanic itself.[129]
  • The song was also featured as an episode title for the The CW series, Supernatural in 2011. The episode featured the angel Balthazar going back in time to stop the Titanic from sinking and save its passengers. He (facetiously) claims that he did it purely because he hated the song and wanted to remove the reason for its existence. He mentioned that Dion had become a "destitute lounge singer" in Quebec as a result.[130]
  • The song appears in the Sacha Baron Cohen film Brüno, in a parodical sequence wherein the eponymous character and his gay lover strip and embrace in front of an irate crowd towards the end of the movie.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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