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Celine Dion's Let's Talk About…

Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of…

by Carl Wilson

Series: 33 1/3 (52)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This book challenged my assumptions about how I think about what's good and what's bad. I will never hear Celine Dion the same way again. ( )
  vivaval | Dec 19, 2014 |
In "Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love," Wilson explores his hate-then-love relationship with the famous Canadian singer through the lens of being a music critic, being a 90s indie rocker and as an amateur sociologist seeking to understand her work and her fans.

Written as a charming journey of self-discovery, Wilson uses Celine Dion and her music to give us all an update on the highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow cultural debate (currently trending: irony-loving omnivores); he makes a solid case for Dion's music as a 90s artifact of unabashed, non-cranial form of art that cuts across all sorts of unexpected demographic and cultural lines. ( )
  jasonli | Sep 2, 2014 |
I take a sort of guilty pleasure in pop music journalism, much like I take a sort of guilty pleasure in pop music itself. I say "sort of", because in my mind there really isn't anything guilty about it. Pop music is wonderful, though in its own way, and in a way incommensurate with how we assess most other forms of music. Yet this sui generis status is of course no reason to dismiss pop, or to shy away from evaluating it on its own terms. The problem is just that this is so rarely done well.

Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love is in this case the exception that proves the rule. Ostensibly another entry in the 33⅓ series, Wilson's book actually turns the series on its head, casting a critical eye on the much-maligned ultra-middlebrow pop diva Céline Dion and her 1997 mega-album, "Let's Talk About Love" (as the back cover reminds us, "the one with that Titanic song on it"). Yet rather than simply writing a review and critique of the record, Wilson uses the figure of Céline as a springboard from to examine the deep philosophical and aesthetic issues that pop music raises. How can an artist be simultaneously so widely detested and adored? Where does the appeal of Céline and her kin come from? Can one come to like music one initially hates? And what does Céline's music have to contribute to our lives?

These are some of the toughest and most intriguing questions of pop criticism, and they are the questions that occupy the heart of Wilson's book. Wilson may not offer many definitive answers, but his reflections are always entertaining, erudite, and eye-opening. And while I cannot say that the book made me into a Céline fan (of course, that's not its point), it did make me think twice about how I perceive her and other pop artists I hate (and that very much is its point). This is clearly not a book that everyone will be into, but for someone like me, it don't get much better than this. ( )
  williecostello | Mar 11, 2014 |
This is a gem of a book. Nominally about Celine Dion, it is really more about managing one's inner troll and emancipating the "better angels of our nature". Taste, according to Wilson, is as much about who we wish to be associated with and whom we wish to distance ourselves from, as it is about what we actually like. The critique of Dion's Let's Talk About Love is only one chapter, and Wilson's better angels are very much evident in this portion of the book. Utimately he chooses the wonderful Book of Love lyrics as a fitting coda wrapping up his discussion of her album: "It is long and boring, and written very long ago. It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes, and things we're all too young to know." ( )
  maritimer | Jun 11, 2013 |
This was on its way to becoming the best of these I have ever read, but the second half gets bogged down in undergraduate philosophy rehash. Though Wilson snapshots a nice gleam of aesthetic theory, he himself comes to no conclusions about why Celine is popular. I was also appalled that he throws in some sort of confessional chapter about being too neurotic to interview Celine fans though he had traveled to Las Vegas specifically for the purpose of doing so. Oh fuck you, I stole your lunch money you whiny twerp.

An addendum:
So the first half, that I liked so much, puts Celine in context of Quebecois culture in relation to Canadian, American, and French culture. The author himself is Quebecois and from a cultural studies perspective these chapters are enlightening.

In the second half, he summarizes some aesthetic theory and quotes a few studies but never connects the dots. In short, it is all about economic class but he is afraid to say so. Or he is afraid to say it is not about class and explain why. ( )
  librarianbryan | Apr 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 082642788X, Paperback)

Non-fans regard Céline Dion as ersatz and plastic, yet to those who love her, no one could be more real, with her impoverished childhood, her (creepy) manager-husband's struggle with cancer, her knack for howling out raw emotion. There's nothing cool about Céline Dion, and nothing clever. That's part of her appeal as an object of love or hatred — with most critics and committed music fans taking pleasure (or at least geeky solace) in their lofty contempt. This book documents Carl Wilson's brave and unprecedented year-long quest to find his inner Céline Dion fan, and explores how we define ourselves in the light of what we call good and bad, what we love and what we hate.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:01 -0400)

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