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October 25, 2014

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Celine Dion is finally cool

There’s a strange hush around the Strip.

It could be that the hordes of CES and AVN conventioneers have fled, swag-bags in hand. It could be the quiet before the caucuses storm the city.

Dion may no longer be near, but her memory (plus an upcoming world tour and new book) goes on.

Dion may no longer be near, but her memory (plus an upcoming world tour and new book) goes on.

But it might just be the palpable absence of Celine Dion, who, as everyone in the world knows, closed her unprecedent near-five year run at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace a month ago today.

Billboards for Bette Midler’s “The Showgirl Must Go On” have finally replaced Dion’s iconic, colossal, legs-akimbo ads. And the skies are just a bit quieter without Dion’s chopper taking her back and forth from home to her casino job.

Dion may have left the local scene (her world tour kicks off Feb. 14 in South Africa), but after silently bearing her reputation as the dorkiest of divas, the singer is finally getting some cool cred.

The hip paperback 33 1/3 book series, which pairs an author with a classic or seminal album (Chris Ott on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures”; Daphne Brooks on Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”) has just published "Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste” about—yes—Celine Dion.

Music writer Carl Wilson wondered how it was that the world was so crazy about the million-selling pop songstress, but he could barely stand the sound of her music. He recently told NPR how he learned to respect Celine Dion—enough to O.D. on her albums and write a book defending her.

From Wilson’s book: “The music of bands such as U2 or Rage Against the Machine is as ‘inspirational’ as Celine’s, but for different subcultural groups. It is just as one-sided and unsubtle. Morally you could fairly ask what is more laudable about excess in the name of rage and resentment than immoderation in thrall to love and connection. The likely answer would be that Celine is conformist, quiescent, unsubversive. ‘Subversion’ today is sentimentality’s reverse.”

I must confess that after seeing her one of her finally shows, I’ve grown to unironically enjoy Dion’s new album “Taking Chances,” which turns up on my iPod fairly regularly of late.

But I still get a chuckle out of this hilariously over-the-top swipe at the chanteuse by New York magazine:

"Dion is the Antichrist of the indie sensibility, an overemoting schmaltz-bot who has somehow managed to convert the ethos of Wal-Mart into sine waves and broadcast them, at kidney-rupturingly high volume directly into our internal soulPods."

Tickets for Midler, by the way, are priced at $95, $140, $175 and $250. She takes her first bow on the Colosseum stage on Feb. 20.

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