It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that Céline Dion was almost universally derided, her interminable Titanic theme song and apparent immodesty opening her up for Saturday Night Live parodies and “most annoying song” lists.
But a resurgence may be in the works for Dion. Her recent appearance at the Billboard Music Awards, for example, was met with unqualified praise, with claims that her performance of her most famous song saved the ceremony, according to The Atlantic. Fellow Canadian Drake appeared to be gobsmacked when meeting Dion backstage at the show. Dion, it appears, is cool now. A Maclean’s article by Carl Wilson—who wrote the legendary 33 1/3 on Dion—traces how that transition appears to have happened.
Wilson notes that as long ago as 2007 “stars like Prince and producer Rick Rubin could often be found at her shows in Las Vegas, and young R&B artist-producers such as Timbaland and Ne-Yo were lining up to collaborate on Dion’s next album. ‘Céline has such a beautiful, mesmerizing voice,’ Timbaland told Elle magazine. ‘I think we could create something that is a classic like she already is.’”
Dion also gained traction by not hogging the public eye and keeping her three kids undercover as well. In the age of Auto Tune, her vocal chops may mean more now than they did 20 years ago, aligning her with her contemporary Adele. We’re also at an age where we can appreciate an out-and-out pop culture icon in her prime, which Dion certainly appears to be. The death of her husband, René Angélil, last year also garnered the superstar some sympathy, but seeing as her husband had also been her manager since she was a teenager, Wilson ponders whether we’re now seeing a new Dion: “Without diminishing her grief, it must be said that Angélil cast a long shadow, as Dion’s quarter-century-older Svengali. Now, she is on the verge of turning 50, and for the first time, no one else is the boss of Céline,” resulting in recent shots of her in an old Titanic sweatshirt or grabbing a hot dog from a vendors cart in a non-diva-like fashion. In short:
In 2017, it seems impossible to imagine that anyone ever hated her. We love Céline for her voice, for her flair, for her goofiness and also for her vulnerability. We love her for the way she can take on the raiments of glamour while her homespun essence shines through. We love her for everything she’s always been and for what she was rejected for, too.
Since Maclean’s is a Canadian magazine, perhaps it has a vested interest in pushing the legendary status of one of the country’s most famous vocalists. Still, the article shows a much different side of Dion than we’re used to seeing. Read the whole thing at Maclean’s.