Friday, January 20, 2017

Review This Again: Falling Into You By Celine Dion!

The Good: Good vocals, Generally good sound, Good use of c.d. capacity
The Bad: Some cheesy lyrics, Repetitive musical accompaniment, All the best songs are available on compilation albums.
The Basics: Falling Into You ages surprisingly poorly, with its best tracks easily being found on Dion's many compilation albums.

[There is a big meme in the art community going around now called "Draw This Again." In the meme, artists illustrate how they have grown in their chosen medium by putting side-by-side pictures of art they created in the past and now. My wife had the great idea that I should do something similar with my reviewing. So, for 2017, I will be posting occasional "Review This Again" reviews, where I revisit subjects I had previously reviewed and review them again, through a lens of increased age, more experience, and - for some - greater familiarity with the subject. This review is one such review, where I am re-experiencing Falling Into You after many years and with more experience as both a reviewer and one who has heard much of the Celine Dion library. The album was originally reviewed here!]

When it comes to Celine Dion's works, there are few albums less worth reviewing than Falling Into You. Falling Into You sold more than 11 million copies in the United States and over thirty-two million copies worldwide. It is one of the undisputed best-selling albums of all time. I decided to listen to the album for my Review It Again project because I had the fundamental question: Is Falling Into You any good? Falling Into You is popular, but popularity is not always indicative of enduring quality. To answer that question, I picked up the European Deluxe edition of Falling Into You, which has two more tracks than the standard U.S. release.

Falling Into You is good, but it is heavily frontloaded. Celine Dion is good on Falling Into You, but all of the best songs can be found with other superlative songs by her on compilation albums - the listener is not missing out on any truly great Celine Dion tracks by getting the highlights on one of her many compilation albums. If one picked up a compilation album, would they truly be missing anything by not getting the up-tempo, overproduced dance track "Make You Happy?" I think not. Falling Into You has some wonderful tracks, but the rest are utterly forgettable (I would love to poll a random sample of the thirty-two million album buyers and ask them to either quote or hum a few bars from "Seduces Me" and my assumption now would be most would not be able to).

With sixteen songs, clocking out at 75:54, Falling Into You does an excellent job of using the whole capacity of a compact disc. Falling Into You is a collaborative effort on many fronts but it is dominated creatively by writers/producers Jim Steinman, Jean-Jacques Goldman, and David Foster (producer only). Steinman was still riding high on the success of Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell (reviewed here!), which he was the main writer and producer behind and his works for Celine Dion help to frame and define the operatic sound on Falling Into You. Celine Dion, for her part, is a performer on Falling Into You; she sings the songs that others wrote, produced and engineered/played instruments on.

Falling Into You is a much more erratic album than many people seem to want to admit. Opening with two big ballads, the album suddenly goes poppy and then into a dance-pop number. There are very few organic transitions in the track to track development of Falling Into You. Some of the musical transitions are actually disturbing; the lonely, heartwrenchingly-delivered ballad "All By Myself" is followed "Declaration Of Love," which has a pop-Country/rockabilly sound to it. At least on the bonus album, that is followed by Dion's cover of the Carole King classic "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." The bulk of Falling Into You is loaded with keyboard and percussion-driven pop tracks that are produced to highlight Celine Dion's vocals.

Celine Dion's vocals are exceptional on Falling Into You. What surprised me listening to Falling Into You all of these years later was how much the album relies upon backing vocals on many songs. "Dreamin' Of You," for example, stops using Celine Dion's vocals to carry the song and ends with a final third that is essentially just background singers carrying the song out. "I Love You" begins the same way and even Dion's popular tracks like "Because You Loved Me" include fairly excessive backing vocals. When she is allowed to present herself, Celine Dion performs in an exceptional soprano voice and is able to hold notes for an impressive amount of time. "I Love You" actually allows Dion to present a sugary quality to her voice that is very endearing and sells the lines in the song quite well!

What struck me about truly listening to Falling Into You this time was that Celine Dion picks some songs to perform that have particularly lame rhymes. Dion is known for schmaltzy love songs, but some of the lines are just worthy of wincing when one hears them. Even in 1997 when Falling Into You was released, the rhymes "I'm falling into you / This dream could come true / And it feels so good falling into you / Falling like a leaf, falling like a star / Finding a belief, falling where you are / Catch me, don't let me drop! / Love me, don't ever stop" ("Falling Into You") were hardly fresh!

That is not to say that Dion is unable to sing phrases that she makes resonate (even today!). The resilience Dion sings of in "I Don't Know" is compelling and universal. And the power of love exhibited when Dion sings "You were my strength when I was weak / You were my voice when I couldn't speak / You were my eyes when I couldn't see / You saw the best there was in me / Lifted me up when I couldn't reach / You gave me faith 'cause you believed / I'm everything I am / Because you loved me" ("Because You Loved Me") makes that hit a truly worthwhile song. Not all things that are popular are bad!

But even lyrically, Falling Into You is terribly frontloaded. Almost all of the best lines on the album are on the first few songs, while later songs get saddled with lines like "Call the man / Who deals in love beyond repair / He can heal the world / Of hearts in need of care / Shine a light ahead / When the next step is unclear" ("Call The Man"). This helps to create the perception that Falling Into You has a few good songs, but is not a particularly cohesive or strong album.

Falling Into You is a fairly average album; it peaks incredibly early and has several unmemorable tracks in its second half (after "I Love You," it pretty much falls apart). For those looking for Celine Dion works now, Falling Into You is hardly essential; its best tracks are all on compilations, making the rest of the album somewhat superfluous filler.

The best track is "It's All Coming Back To Me Now," the low point is probably the incongruent "Declaration Of Love."

For other Review This Again reviews, please check out:
The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
Minutes To Midnight - Linkin Park


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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