If you were a teenager in the ’90s, there is a very good chance you thought of Céline Dion as the Empire. She was the creator of one inescapable juggernaut power-ballad hit after another — a veritable fountain of adult-contemporary waiting-room sleepers. And we had to watch as this lady stomped all over the commercial fortunes of all our favorites. We — well, I — would get upset just thinking about her, as if she had done something awful to me. But now that Dion in the Vegas-residency stage of her career, it’s a whole lot easier to see her for what she is: A fun and kooky and impossible-to-hate French Canadian lady who seems to have way more personality than most of our favorites.
That’s the version of Céline Dion that we’ve been seeing lately — the one that parodied her own dramatic style for Deadpool 2 and showed up singing at a Steve Aoki club night. And that’s the version that appeared last night on James Corden’s Late Late Show, doing the Carpool Karaoke segment for which Corden has spent his entire life training. Corden drove Dion around Las Vegas, the monument to American tackiness where Dion now seems perfectly at home. And she was magical.
There were the standard lame comedy bits, of course: Corden getting Dion to sing “Baby Shark,” Corden forcing Dion to give away some of her way-too-many shoes to random passersby, Corden and Dion doing a big grand-finale “My Heart Will Go On” on a boat in that big Vegas fountain from the end of Ocean’s 11. But Dion is funnier on her own than in any of those comedy bits. On her live performances: “I change the words every night!” On her assistants: “Oh no! Those bitches!” On the idea of giving away her shoes: “Why do you want me to give some shoes! Now!” There’s a moment where Corden hits a big note on “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” and Dion grabs his face and kisses him full on the lips. And she’s the rare Carpool Karaoke participant who seems to get excited when people get excited to see her. It’s all weirdly delightful, and you can watch it below.
My 15-year-old self hates me for it, but I like Céline Dion now.