Twenty-five years ago, on February 28, 1998, Céline Dion’s Titanic single, “My Heart Will Go On,” debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Céline originally rejected the song, written by James Horner and Will Jennings, because she didn’t like it and had already done two movie songs: “Beauty and the Beast” and “Because You Loved Me.” However, her husband and manager, René Angélil, convinced her to record a demo just to hear what it sounded like.
Her vocal on that demo, recorded in one take, is the one you hear in the film, though Céline ended up rerecording it for her album after the movie’s release. As she told reporters in 2017, “I only sang it once!”
Though “My Heart Will Go On” only topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, it spent 10 weeks at number one on the publication’s radio airplay chart. It garnered what was at the time the largest radio audience in history: 117 million listeners. It was also the world’s best-selling single in 1998.
“My Heart Will Go On” has become Céline’s signature song and her most-streamed track. It won four Grammys, as well as the Best Original Song Oscar. With 18 million sales worldwide, it’s the second bestselling physical single ever by a woman, second only to Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You.”
In 2017, Celine performed “My Heart Will Go On” at the Billboard Music Awards to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Titanic. Backstage, she told reporters, “I’m so glad that none of them listened to me [when I said] that I didn’t wanna record it. Thank God!”
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