ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The power of lovely Céline Dion duets
the single guy
by brian wong
Gazette file photo
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.