If the last 20 years are any indication, “My Heart Will Go On” will truly go on and on. Celebrating two-decades of success in December, Celine Dion’s iconic smash hit will be remembered for the indelible mark it left on film history, and for giving rise to one of the most recognizable – and lucrative – performance spectacles in the entertainment world.
But the song that would become an international sensation almost never was. Created by James Horner for the film, Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On” began as a instrumental motif, and when it was finally given lyrics by Will Jennings, the track was rejected by Director James Cameron. Even Celine Dion, who already had a major film theme song under her belt in “Beauty and the Beast,” was hesitant to be associated with the track.
However, Celine Dion finally relented and agreed to record a demo of the track. According to “My Heart Will Go On” legend, the Canadian vocalist nailed the recording in one take, and that one-take demo was all the convincing Cameron needed to reverse his position on including the track in his film.
Following the release of Titanic in December of 1997, “My Heart Will Go On” was the biggest thing in music: It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and would later be certified gold with over 1.7 million U.S. record sales. In addition, Dion’s mega hit went on to win some of the most coveted awards in music the following year, including the Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Song – Motion Picture" in 1998 and the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television at the 1999 Grammys.
Celine Dion wasn’t finished, though – riding the success of “My Heart Will Go On” and other chart-topping hits like “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and “All By Myself,” the Canadian artist agreed to a Caesars Palace residency that would redefine Las Vegas entertainment, and set the bar for future residencies for artists like Elton John and Britney Spears. Her first residency, A New Day… was initially structured as a two-year deal, but following the overwhelming reception, the show was extended for a total of five years. During its run from 2003 to 2007, it grossed over $462 million – one of the largest concert sums in history.
Celine Dion took the stage at Caesars Palace again in 2011 under the banner of a new residency, “Celine.” Bolstered, as always, by the global popularity of “My Heart Will Go On,” Dion’s second Caesars residency has been a massive success and has critics raving. The Las Vegas Sun called the show a masterpiece, adding that Celine Dion “has single-handedly redefined class and elegance in on-stage performances.” While “My Heart Will Go On” isn’t the focal point of her latest residency – although included in the song set list – the theme from Titanic helped make Celine Dion the entertainment icon she is today.