By Andrew Bailey
This week, I am in the mood to give a healthy dose of 80’s nostalgia.
If someone says “Québec” to you, what do you think of? Maple syrup? Poutine, perhaps? The never-ending search for a unique identité? Whatever your answer maybe, it’s odds on that one of you thought of the timeless songstress, Céline Dion.
Born in Charlemagne, QC in 1968, Céline Marie Claudette Dion has an impressive singing career to her name, spanning four decades. The 80’s and 90’s saw her produce several successful francophone and anglophone records, not to mention her winning performance representing Switzerland in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. It was in 1997 that she shot to worldwide fame with the now ubiquitous My Heart Will Go On, produced for the motion picture Titanic, taken from her phenomenally successful, 31 million copy selling album, Let’s Talk About Love. Good news came to Dion’s fans this year with her announcement that she was to sign a new three year long deal to return to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, executing a total of 210 shows over the three year period (she was last in Vegas from 2003 to 2007 for a 600 show programme under the banner of A New Day: but that obviously just wasn’t enough). Love her or hate her, you cannot deny that she has put Québecois and Canadian music onto the world stage, for better or worse.
But were you aware of her automotive past? (Gasp! Shock, horror!) Prior to her rise to worldwide fame, she often featured in Québec-specific car commercials for the Chrysler/Dodge Corporation, showcasing some of their finest models. Clearly someone at Chrysler thought, “Who better to sell our cars to the good people of la belle province than their own singing starlet?” So the idea stuck, and the rest, as they say, is history. Featured below are a few of my personal favourites.
If I were Céline and I had just finished a show-stopping performance, I would definitely want to jump straight into a 1988 Chrysler LeBaron, sing along to the radio and drive off into the sunset/Château Frontenac. And who could blame her? What a car!
Two years later and she is back, advertising the Dodge Shadow and it’s identical twin, the Plymouth Sundance (?!) No singing this time, but what’s this? Yes, Céline can dance too! She’s definitely “got the moves” here, and is doing a good job of distracting the viewer from the oh-so-mediocre car behind her that Chrysler are trying to flog.
1990 was clearly a busy year for our Céline: here she is again, this time cranking out a power ballad for the Plymouth Laser. Her spirited singing definitely matches the “0-100km in 6.6 seconds performance” of the heart-stopping Laser. Tina Turner was chosen to do the anglophone version of this ad, but I think Dion pulls it off with far more bravado and panache. Looking good Céline, looking good.