Saturday, September 3, 2011

Celine Dion Craps Out On Singing Songs To Children With Miracle.

The Good: Vocal ability
The Bad: Charmless versions of classics, SHORT, Overly commercial, Instrumentally dull
The Basics: Dull and poorly arranged as an album and in the interpretation of some tracks, Miracle seems far more commercial than Dion's usually soulful works.

I doubt it would surprise many of my readers to know that: 1. I loathe commercialism and 2. I am not much for children's albums (as I pretty much am uninterested in all things pertaining to kids). So, when the two are mixed pretty obviously, as they are on Celine Dion's album Miracle: A Celebration Of New Life, I might actually be accused effectively of being biased against the work from the beginning. That said, in order for me to be truly taken down by such charges, the net result of the bias would have to be damaging to the review. In this case, it is not. My mother, who wandered up while Dion's rendition of "The First Time I Saw Your Face" was playing for about the eleventh time, made a sour face and cursed surprisingly vigorously. It seems she has very fond memories of a loved one with that song and in her words, "[this person] is butchering a great song!"

Celine Dion's cashgrab in association with photographer Anne Geddes was released with the stated purpose of celebrating the life of Dion's newborn. However, the multimedia nature of the advertising and packaging for the Miracle disc informs those with an eye for it that the real intent of this disc was to keep Celine Dion's name on the charts while she performed exclusively in Las Vegas for a few years. The result is a c.d. that is bland with a booklet of Anne Geddes's photographs of Dion and children (not all of them are hers) that reads like an advertisement for their book. But, on the merits, Celine Dion's album Miracle is bland, uninspired and replays extraordinarily poorly.

With only thirteen songs clocking out at 52:24, Miracle: A Celebration Of New Life is an album Celine Dion released that features photographs by Anne Geddes in the liner, advertising a book of photography by the same name. Dion performs all thirteen songs as lullabies and this represents a creative void from the producers of Dion's songs and albums as this album is arguably her most boring piece of music ever assembled. To be fair, her dance album One Heart is worse, but it is bad in an entirely different way. While that album is ridiculous for the ethnic pretenses it puts on and the overproduced nature of almost all of the songs, Miracle is entirely narcoleptic. If the point of One Heart is to sell Celine Dion as a dance-pop star, Miracle's point is to sell the performer as a sleep aid.

Without fail, the songs in Miracle are presented as slow, sleepy ballads that are lullabies in their truest form. Songs like "What A Wonderful World" and "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" are rearranged from their traditional arrangements just to allow Celine Dion to create slow pieces that are not emotive, but rather are sleep-inducing. There is a hypnotic quality to Miracle that comes from beginning the album with the lullaby by the same name and moving right into "Brahms' Lullaby." Equally unfortunate is how none of the songs escape the listless treatment of Celine Dion lazily presenting each song.

As always, Celine Dion is not responsible for creating any of the songs on the album. She did not write or produce any of the songs or the album as a whole. As usual, Dion does not play any instruments on the album and she is not involved with even arranging any of the songs. Dion is a singer only and as a result, Miracle is an album where she simply performs the arrangements other people put before her.

To be fair to Celine Dion, she does have an excellent voice. She sings every song on Miracle with an adept quality that makes it clear that she has some talent. As I write this, she is singing "A Mother's Prayer" for the eighteenth time (I've listened to this album a lot in the last day and a half!) and she is inarguably a flawless soprano. She knows how to sing and she has great vocal control. On "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face," she holds notes for a long time and the combination of long and high works for her. She creates music that is beautiful and melodic with her voice.

The problems with Miracle, then, are in how the songs are arranged and in the instrumental accompaniment. The instrumental accompaniment on Miracle is, easy to say, boring. The songs are all performed on piano or light strings with no recognizable percussion section. This makes sense because the album is intended to be all lullabies, but the sense of monotony overwhelms the gentle sound. It is possible to have percussion on a lullaby (that's why the triangle was invented!), but Dion's producers stick with a much more traditional mold which omits percussion and produces Dion's vocals to the forefront.

But what finally made me knock this album down were the arrangements of the songs on the album. Individual songs are arranged in ways that are dull and the album itself is arranged in a problematic way that makes one wonder what the producers were thinking. For the former point, I cite the songs I know best from this album, "Beautiful Boy." "Beautiful Boy" is presented by Celine Dion in a way that slows down John Lennon's lullaby. The problem is that Dion sings it without any emotion. Her vocals are technically flawless as far as pitch and range go, but the song is the auditory equivalent of a dead-eyed stare in the way she presents the lines. There is no passion, no real warmth or love in her voice as she sings the words and as a result, the song feels listless and like a cheap knockoff of the original.

"Beautiful Boy" comes late on the album, after a song that Dion sings in French ("Le Loup, La Biche Et Le Chevalier (Une Chanson Douce)," and it is one of the songs based upon a more robust original. "Come To Me," the closest Miracle comes to having an up-tempo song, precedes these songs, but comes on the heels of nine lullabies and my best guess is that the producers simply figured that no one would hear them because they were already asleep. The album frontloads the most sleepy songs and the last few songs on the albums are arrangements or presentations that butcher the emotional resonance of the original songs.

There are plenty of other, better, albums out there for children. Protect yours from boredom by avoiding Miracle: A Celebration Of New Life.

For other works by Celine Dion, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Celine Dion
The Colour Of My Love
Falling Into You
Let's Talk About Love
The Collector's Series, Volume 1
A New Day Has Come
One Heart
These Are Special Times


For other music reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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