March 24, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 91  

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The power of lovely Céline Dion duets

the single guy
by brian wong

Gazette file photo
WE ARE THE GREATEST SINGERS, IN THE WORLD! Céline and Barbra are horrible separately. But together, they are, er, somethin’ else.

This week, The Single Guy pays tribute (sort of) to Céline Dion duets of the 1990s. Yeah — I don’t know why either.

Céline & Clive Griffin:
“When I Fall in Love” (1993)

I don’t know who the hell Clive Griffin is, but on this jazz-pop standard for the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack, his warm, breathy croon is a heart-melter. Unfortunately, he proves to be too suave for Céline, who just annihilates him when she begins singing. I feel that with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, we’d have more of an equal partnership, but with Céline and Clive, powerhouse Céline is clearly the dominant one.

Céline & Peabo Bryson:
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

Thanks to Disney, we have unity between the beauties and the beasts, the young and the old, whites and blacks, French-Canadians and Americans... such a perfect and harmonious world!

Céline & Andrea Bocelli:
“The Prayer” (1998)

It’s amazing how you can duet with a blind man and still be the visionless one. “The Prayer” was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars, only to be trumped by “When You Believe,” performed by that other genius duo, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Enlisting the schmaltzy songwriting talents of David Foster, Céline and Andrea serenade each other over quiet orchestration. But when Andrea steps out of line and starts singing in his crazy Italian, Céline feels she must play translator by singing the English version of his lines. Excuse me, Céline — did Andrea interrupt you when you were singing your part? I don’t think so.

Céline & Barbra Streisand: “Tell Him” (1997)

“Tell Him” is pure theatre. Céline is scared, afraid to show she cares; she wonders if he’ll think her weak if she trembles when she speaks, and she doesn’t know what to do. Enter the queen cougar, Barbra — she’s been around a while and has had some experience. Barbra advises Céline, “Tell him that the sun and moon rise in his eyes! Reach out to him! And whisper tender words so soft and sweet! Hold him close to feel his heartbeat!” It’s so awful it’s good, especially the frightening sing-your-head-off conclusion that is capped by Céline’s orgasmic wail.

Céline & R. Kelly:
“I’m Your Angel” (1998)

This slow jam was featured on Céline’s precious 1998 holiday album, christened These Are Special Times. And indeed these were special times, because there’s nothing like celebrating the joyous holiday season with a loud French-Canadian and an accused pedophile. But when this duet idea came up, it’s likely Céline was trying to channel the R. Kelly responsible for shoulder-crying anthems like Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone,” instead of the R. Kelly responsible for shoulder-rubbing anthems like “Bump ’N’ Grind.” The best thing about this one is that R. Kelly teaches Céline to take it nice and slow — Céline doesn’t climax until the last third of the song, and even when she does, there’s a gospel choir to keep things holy.



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