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Celine Dion’s Sales Will Go On — and On and On

As 1998 winds to a close, don’t look for middle-of-the-road pop
diva Celine Dion to garner any Artist of the Year
honors from music critics. But if record stores were handing out
statues for outstanding sales performance, Dion would sweep them
all.

What the Canadian-born singer has quietly accomplished over the
last twelve months is astounding. Not only has she released two
blockbuster albums of her own, but she was the grease of the entire
Titanic soundtrack phenomenon (which included a Back
to Titanic
follow-up) and had cameo appearances on nearly
half-a-dozen other titles in just the last year.

Taken as a whole, according to SoundScan, Dion has sold more than
twenty million albums in America in just one year’s time. And that
figure is a precise one reflecting the actual number of albums
purchased, not the number of albums shipped out to stores, which is
how more liberal platinum certifications are determined.

True, that total is spread over several records, but the idea that
a single artist could be responsible for selling more than twenty
million albums in one year was once unthinkable. Even Alanis
Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill and Hootie and the
Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, two of the best-selling
albums of the Nineties (selling 13.2 million and 9.7 million
copies, respectively), took nearly two years to accumulate those
huge tallies. As Billboard chart chief Geoff Mayfield puts
it, “If you could buy stock in an artist, I’d buy stock in Celine
Dion.”

How’d Dion do it? According to SoundScan, the soundtracks to
Titanic and Back to Titanic, which helped
introduce the singer to a much younger fan base, have sold ten
million copies combined. Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love,
which also includes Titanic‘s hit single “My Heart Will Go
On,” has sold eight million copies. Her recently released Christmas
album, These Are Special Times, has sold 1.7 million
copies. And then there are the ’98 releases Dion appears on:
R. Kelly‘s R (Dion and Kelly’s duet
single, “I’m Your Angel,” just went to No. 1), the TV soundtrack to
Touched by an Angel, VH1’s Divas Live and the
Bee GeesOne Night Only. All together,
those records have sold another 1.5 million. (At one point in
November, all eight of the Dion-related records appeared on the
Billboard album chart at the same time.) Plus, Dion’s 1997
studio release, Falling Into You continued to do well in
’98, selling 640,000 copies. That brings Dion’s twelve-month total
to twenty-two million albums sold.

Executives at 550 insist that despite Dion’s recent saturation
coverage, the singer’s in no danger of being over-exposed.
Nonetheless, label executive vice president and GM John Doelp
reports, “she’s definitely slowing down next year.”

Maybe that’ll a give everybody else a chance to sell a few more
records.

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