|"My Heart Will Go On"|
Standard cover art
|Single by Celine Dion|
|from the album Let's Talk About Love and Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture|
|Released||December 8, 1997|
|Celine Dion singles chronology|
Celine Dion - "My Heart Will Go On"
"My Heart Will Go On" is a song written by James Horner and Will Jennings, produced by Walter Afanasieff, Horner and Simon Franglen, and recorded by Canadian singer Celine Dion. It serves as the main theme song to James Cameron's blockbuster film Titanic, that is based on an account of the British transatlantic ocean liner of the same name which sank in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
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 all 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. "My Heart Will Go On" was first released in Australia and Germany on December 8, 1997, and in the rest of the world in January and February 1998.
One of the best-selling singles of all time, the song is considered to be Dion's signature song. 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. The music video was directed by Bille Woodruff and released at the end of 1997. Dion performed the song to honor the 20th anniversary of the film at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards on May 21, 2017. With worldwide sales estimated at 18 million copies, it became the second best-selling single by a female artist in history, and the eighth overall.
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". 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, who had, himself, worked with Dion for several years on many of her major hits to date, programmed and arranged an extensive demo to take to Dion.
Tommy Mottola claimed that Dion recorded the song in one take, and that demo is what was released. As 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. 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 song is written in the key of E major. 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 A♭ major. 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.
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.
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.
In latter years, "My Heart Will Go On" proved not to be popular with 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. 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". Winslet stated 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". She further displayed her dislike for the song in 2017. When asked how often she listened to the song, Winslet responded "absolutely never."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". On September 11, 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.
"My Heart Will Go On" won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Original Song. 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. "My Heart Will Go On" also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1998.
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 peaked #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.
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" was performed by Dion during her 1998/1999 "Let's Talk About Love World Tour", her Las Vegas residency show "A New Day...", her "Taking Chances World Tour" 2008/2009 and her second Las Vegas residency show "Celine". It was also performed during her show "Une seule fois" at Sur les plaines d'Abraham in Quebec City in 2013, during her "Tournée Européenne 2013", her "Summer Tour 2016", and her "Live 2017" and "Live 2018" tours. Dion also performed the song during her BST Hyde Park concert in London on July 5th 2019.
"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 addition "My Heart Will Go On" reached number one in several other U.S. charts, including, Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks,Top 40 Mainstream, 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, 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 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.
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 on October 25, 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 coeur 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 coeur 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, 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.
European CD single
European CD single #2
French CD single
French CD single #2
French CD single #3
Japanese CD single
UK cassette single
US CD single and Cassette
Australian/Brazilian/European/UK/Korean CD maxi single
Australian CD maxi single #2
Brazilian CD maxi single #2
European CD maxi single #2 / UK 12" single
Japanese/Korean CD maxi single
UK CD maxi single #2
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||25,000*|
|Belgium (BEA)||3× Platinum||150,000*|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||Gold||30,000^|
|Germany (BVMI)||4× Platinum||2,000,000^|
|Netherlands (NVPI)||2× Platinum||150,000^|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||2× Platinum||40,000*|
|Sweden (GLF)||2× Platinum||60,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||2× Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||3× Platinum||1,800,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||2,358,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Australia||December 8, 1997|
|Japan||January 14, 1998||Mini CD|
|United Kingdom||February 9, 1998|
|United States||February 10, 1998|
|Japan||June 20, 1998||CD|
|Sissel performing "My Heart Will Go On" on world premiere of Titanic 3D at Royal Albert Hall, March 27 2012, YouTube video|
|Sissel performing "My Heart Will Go On" on world premiere of Titanic Live at Royal Albert Hall, April 27 2015, YouTube video|
Sissel Kyrkjebø was scheduled to record the song for the film in 1997, but Celine Dion's vocals was 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).