The Good: Moments of vocal adequacy
The Bad: SHORT!, Overproduced, Poor use of the medium.
The Basics: Another disappointing c.d. single, "I Drove All Night" offers listeners nothing they don't already get on Celine Dion's album One Heart.
If it seems like I am down on c.d. singles, well . . . I am. These short, cheap discs are made of the exact same materials as standard compact discs and yet they use about 1/8th of the discs total capacity. They become ridiculous wastes of space and money. And for the argument that they are inexpensive ways to get only the best songs by an artist, I will happily rebut that now. C.d. singles are often more expensive in the long term than actual albums. For example, with Celine Dion's U.S. release of her single "I Drove All Night," it was a shelfwarmer for a while, then disappeared from the marketplace. As a result, its value has now appreciated to the ten dollar range (utterly ridiculous in my book). Conversely, the lackluster album One Heart - which "I Drove All Night" is from - can often be found on sale for ten dollars or less if one is a smart shopper. Because c.d. singles are a novelty now (most companies no longer produce them), their value has generally increased as a result of the collectible nature of them.
Even so, there are c.d. singles that are better than others. The best c.d. singles provide listeners with rare b-sides and bonus tracks that are not available elsewhere. The worst c.d. singles provide only the title track. The slight step up from that (still horrible) are the c.d. singles that include the title track and one other song from the album that the single is from. The U.S. release of Celine Dion's "I Drove All Night" falls into that category. This two-track disc includes two songs: "I Drove All Night" and "I Know What Love Is." This makes it utterly worthless to anyone who isn't a Celine Dion collector (not listener, but collector of all things Celine Dion).
With only two songs, clocking out at a measly eight and a half minutes, "I Drove All Night" continues the tradition of Celine Dion's music being minimally hers. Neither song was written by Dion (the title track was originally written for Roy Orbison, in fact!), she does not play any instruments and she does not have any sort of production credit on these songs. In fact, even Dion's vocals are only minimally hers on these songs as the album is so overproduced as to obscure her natural voice frequently. This song led the album "One Heart" and was part of Chrysler's sponsorship of Celine Dion. The thing is, this c.d. single seems like a cheap advertising tool more than a musical experience.
First, Dion's version is overproduced with pounding bass and drums. This makes the pop song heartless and lacking in anything remotely resembling "soul." Whereas Orbison's version had a more stark sound that conveyed the raw emotionalism of the lyrics, Dion's version is a cheap dance number that sounds like a car commercial soundtrack.
Second, Celine Dion's natural voice is produced as well on the title track. The reverb is turned up and amid the additional production elements that smooth out imperfections, it becomes impossible to tell whether or not Dion's long-held note is truly impressive or the result of simply stretching the note with good production software. I lean toward the latter if for no other reason than the rest of the song has such a frenetic quality that to go from shorter breaths to such a long breath is wickedly difficult to pull off. On "I Know What Love Is," which is a more traditional Celine Dion ballad, Dion's vocals do have a more natural quality to them.
Finally, the lyrics on "I Drove All Night" are not anything to write home about. The rhyme scheme on the lines is pretty predictable and the sentiment is not overwhelmingly original. Indeed, the lines "I drove all night to get to you / Is that all right? / I drove all night / Crept in your room / Woke you from your sleep / To make love to you / Is that all right? / I drove all night" ("I Drove All Night") become grating with the repetition needed to get the song up to four minutes long! In other words, this becomes a very typical pop song about relationships from the instrumental sound to the lines themselves.
Conversely, the ballad "I Know What Love Is" does have some lyrical merit. On that song, Dion sings "Now there's no mountain / Too high for me to climb / No ocean so wide / That I could not reach the other side / Now I believe in me / 'Cause you live and breathe in me / And nothing can come between / We are one star / No night can darken" ("I Know What Love Is"). Despite having some pretty cliche images, the song does have a decent sense of poetics and imagery. Dion carries the sense of feeling for the song well and it is not a bad song.
But both of the songs use a very "assembled" sound to them where the instrumental accompaniment sounds more like it is the result of a drum machine, guitar sound on the keyboards and a string section loop than actual musicians. This becomes repetitive and annoying when played over and over again.
Both "I Drove All Night" and "I Know What Love Is" are the original album versions of these songs, which makes it even more pointless to purchase this c.d. single. It is not like the listener is getting alternate takes or more inspired renditions of the songs.
For other works by Celine Dion, be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Colour Of My Love
Falling Into You
Let's Talk About Love
The Collector's Series, Volume 1
A New Day Has Come
These Are Special Times
Miracle: A Celebration Of New Life
My Love: Essential Collection
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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