Hillary Clinton's game of "Campaign Song Idol" is over. After just under a month of voting, the public has decided that Celine Dion's "You and I" will provide the soundtrack to the candidate's presidential campaign. Not without some confusion, though. Maureen Dowd and others wrote that Clinton "picked" the song, but Sen. Clinton's press office tells Salon that "You and I" was selected via an online vote. Either way, the song's bathetic strains are set to spill forth from tinny assembly-hall P.A. systems, soundtracking the candidate's post-speech waving and baby kissing.
But what does the choice of "You and I" say about Clinton supporters? For one, it says they're pretty darn regular. Dion has notched four No. 1 albums in the U.S. and sold more than 100 million records worldwide. A Celine Dion song is about as mainstream as music gets. The song choice doesn't say much for the creativity of the voters, though. There is no subtlety in Celine Dion songs, no emotional nuance. A song like "You and I" seems born of a shiny, peppy, prefabricated world, one where Neil Diamond's pander genius makes mechanical love to Liza Minnelli's Broadway brio. It's no wonder that people so enamored of a politician that they would vote for her campaign song picked a tune so ardently one-dimensional.
You can listen to "You and I" on Clinton's Web site. If you do, you'll hear the song open to the major chords of an ersatz rock guitar, soon joined by a gently burbling synth in an aural evocation of sunny optimism. It's not long before Dion, the Clinton proxy, joins in, bringing a full-throated message of hope. Key lyric: "Brighter than the sun and darker than the night/ I can see your love shining like a light." It's a nice opening, but Celine Dion, like a politician, isn't really about nice. She's about shrewdly winning you over. When the chorus comes, and Dion trains her destructo-beam voice on those poor vowel sounds and blows them into the stratosphere, a powerful argument has been made. You can either recoil at Dion's superhuman abilities or succumb to them. As the sales numbers mentioned above suggest, a significant number of people have chosen the latter course.
The rigorously analytical part (the whole?) of Clinton's brain must be thrilled with her new song. Dripping with bombast and sagging with schmaltz, "You and I" is the musical equivalent of all-you-can-gorge buffets and "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" It's simple, direct and popular -- three qualities Clinton is surely happy to align herself with.
-- David Marchese