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Released as a single from Dion's fifth English-language studio album, Let's Talk About Love (1997), and the film's soundtrack, the love power ballad became an international hit, reaching number one in over 20 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
James Horner had originally composed the music for the song as an instrumental motif which he used in several scenes during Titanic. He then wanted to prepare a full vocal version of it, to use during the film's end credits. 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". 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 as she felt she was pushing her luck by singing another film theme song after "Beauty and the Beast". Horner showed the piano sketch to Simon Franglen, who was working with him on electronic textures and synthesizers for the film score. Franglen had worked with Dion for several years on many of her major hits to date.
James Cameron felt obligated to include a theme song to promote the movie. Glen Brunman also stated that the soundtrack album was supposed to be "No song, no Céline".
Dion's manager and husband René Angélil convinced her to sing on this demo version, which she had not done for many years. Tommy Mottola claimed that Dion recorded the song in one take, and that demo is what was released in the movie. However, she recorded the song again for her album release after the movie and its tremendous success. It was an edited version with few note changes at the end of the song. 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".
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 which appears on the Titanic soundtrack album and is also played over the ending credits of the film.
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. 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.
Sissel Kyrkjebø was scheduled to record the song for the film in 1997, but Celine Dion's vocals were preferred due to James Horner's decision to support Dion's career. In an 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 [her]. But that was before Celine was known and filmmakers and marketing people had not done what they should have done for Celine and [her] songs. So I felt I owed her a Titanic chance, but I could [still] have used Sissel there". Instead, Kyrkjebø completed much of the score for the soundtrack album, Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture. Dion accepted to sing a demo for the movie, even though she hesitated to record in the beginning because she already had done three movie songs earlier. Years later, Horner chose Kyrkjebø to perform "My Heart Will Go On" on both world premieres of Titanic 3D (2012) and Titanic Live (2015).
AllMusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that this song "shines the most brilliantly" and marked it as a standout track. Another AllMusic reviewer, single editor Heather Phares, who rated 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".Yahoo.com described the song as an "emotional power ballad that perfectly captured [Titanic's] romantic yearning".Vulture said that it is a powerful song and has "one of the most glorious key changes in recorded music history", and that "its legacy is eclipsed only by" Whitney Houston's "admittedly far superior" song "I Will Always Love You".Washington Post appreciated how the song was not just tagged on the end of the three-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.
The song has also received criticism. In 2011, Rolling Stone readers rated it the 7th worst song of the '90s, with the magazine writing, "Celine Dion's song and the movie have aged very poorly...Now [the song] probably just makes you cringe".The Atlantic attributed the song's decline in popularity to its overexposure and added 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".Vulture reasoned that it has become fashionable to dislike the song because it "encapsulates most everything that once-enthusiastic moviegoers now dislike about Titanic: It's outdated, cheesy, and overly dramatic".Maxim deemed it "the second most tragic event ever to result from that fabled ocean liner".
It has been named one of the Songs of the Century. It is one of the best-selling singles ever in the United Kingdom, selling over a million copies, the second single released by Dion to do so. This made Dion one of only two female artists to date to have released two million-selling singles in Britain. In December 2007, the song was placed on number 21 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90's". In April 2010, the UK radio station Magic 105.4 voted the single the "top movie song of all time" after listeners's votes. It was ranked at number 14 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs, celebrating the 100 greatest songs in American film history.
Influence and legacy
The song became "imprinted on the movie's legacy", and every listen prompts a reminder of the blockbuster and the hype surrounding it.USA Today agreed that the song will be forever tied to Titanic.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.
The Atlantic stated that its popularity did not 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.
Dion has said "'My Heart Will Go On' gave me the opportunity to be associated with a classic that will live forever".
"My Heart Will Go On" became Dion's biggest hit and one of the best-selling singles in history, having sold more than 18 million copies worldwide. 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, 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. The single was eventually certified gold in the United States.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. In an article published by Billboard in November 2019, My Heart Will Go On has 588.2 million on-demand streams in the US, making it her most streamed song in the country. 
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 Wallonia, Denmark, Italy, and Norway, seven weeks in 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 4× platinum for selling over two million copies, and was ranked as one of the most popular singles ever released there. 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 1,681,023 copies (as of September 2017), 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". 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.
It was included later on the Back to Titanic second soundtrack album, but it does not appear on the 20th anniversary edition. 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.
^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)Official Charts Company- Featured Artists- Celine Dion. Retrieved January 19, 2010