The180·The 180

Celine Dion is cool

Music critic Carl Wilson explains why the fist-pumping, chest-thumping diva is cool with the kids these days.
Drake and his father Dennis Graham, pose cheerfully with Celine Dion backstage at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. The Toronto rapper called Dion "iconic" and in the opinion of Slate music critic Carl Wilson highlighted the fact that Dion is now cool. (champagnepapi/Instagram)

For years, Carl Wilson has covered the career of Celine Dion. 

He even wrote a book about her, as he tried to navigate why the iconic superstar was reviled by some and loved by others. 

But after Dion's recent performance at the Billboard Music Awards, Wilson says he couldn't help but notice that Celine Dion has become cool.

"Although she was of course beloved and famous for much of her career, it wasn't the kind of universal affection that seems to radiate towards her now."

Wilson says this cool is very different to the cool of two decades ago. 

"If you think about the late 90s when her career was at the peak, it was the era of grunge and excessive irony. And there was kind of a cynicism in youth culture at the time that I think has gone out of fashion in a lot of ways," he says. 

To Wilson, it's also a product of the differences between how music lovers today listen to music.

"People are more interested in listening across a wide range of styles, rather than identifying everything about themselves in some particular sub-culture position."

And while he thinks her veteran status affords her plenty of cool credibility, Wilson won't concede it's simple nostalgia at play. 

"Celine stuck around. It's not just nostalgia. There is still a sense that she has a vitality and a currentness about her that's not some Woodstock act trotting themselves out and talking about yesteryear. There is something much more 2017 that she is tapping into."

Note: You may have heard Jim Brown mention that his producer sent him several Celine Dion videos to prepare for this interview with Carl Wilson. For your own pleasure, they are as follows (in order of online popularity): 


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