The King & Celine

Considering that more than 1.5 million people have viewed the YouTube video of Céline Dion performing with Elvis Presley, this may not be news for you. But neither I nor my wife had seen it, and I figured that there were likely a few of you for whom this will also be new. I recommend it for several reasons. First, the video itself:

As I said, I find this compelling for several reasons. First, I like the song (If I Can Dream of a Better Land), which, despite its naive and vaguely hippie-ish lyrics (not to mention its questionable theology), still provides some dramatic musicality.

Second, I like both performers. Dion is one the biggest-selling female singers in history and one of the few contemporary performers that I’d pay to see in concert, and Presley’s musical legacy is unquestioned. Michael Jackson may have been the King of Pop, but Elvis needed no such qualifier.

Finally, I’m intrigued by the technology that brought two performers from different generations (the original footage for this video was from a 1968 concert, the year Dion was born). The video is one of those productions where your first thought is wow!, followed closely by I wonder how they did that?” With regard to the second thought, well, to borrow a line from Apple, there’s a video for that:

Some YouTube commenters excoriate the creators of this video (Hollywood technical experts David C. Fein and Marc Fusco, operating on YouTube as “2livefools”) for what they deem to be unfair criticism of the techniques and quality of the “spliced video,” but I think the creators are simply offering unbiased and expertly professional observations. They’re making no judgments about the quality of the performances (indeed, they go out their way to comment that it appears that Dion’s performance was intentionally toned down out of respect to Elvis).

P.S. If you’re a purist and insist on a Canadian-free version of Elvis’s performance, here’s the original:


  1. I saw this when it originally aired on American Idol and was absolutely floored even in spite of the fact that I’m not an especially big fan of either Elvis or Celine Dion. What these guys cite as almost laughably easy is pure voodoo wizardry to me.

  2. You mention something else that I think justifies what the Hollywood guys labeled as sloppy work: this production was a one-off creation for one episode of a TV series. It’s not like it was created to show in movie theaters around the world, and destined for the archives of the Smithsonian. I think we cut the creators a little slack for dealing with what was probably limited time and budget. Like you said, the results still blew most people away.

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