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Album Cover Art
1997 Original CD
1998 "Back to Titanic" CD
Album 2 Cover Art
1998 DVD Audio Album
Album 3 Cover Art
2012 Anniversary Edition
Album 4 Cover Art
2012 Collector's Anniversary Edition
Album 5 Cover Art
2017 La-La Land
Album 6 Cover Art
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated by:
Don Davis

Vocal Solos by:
Sissel Kyrkjebø

"My Heart Will Go On" Performed by:
Celine Dion

"My Heart Will Go On" Lyrics by:
Will Jennings

"Back to Titanic" Suites Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra and the Choristers of King's College, Cambridge
Labels Icon
Sony Music Soundtrax
(November 18th, 1997)

Sony Music Soundtrax
(Back to Titanic)
(August 25th, 1998)

Sony Music Soundtrax
(DVD Audio)
(September 30, 1998)

Sony Masterworks/Sony Classical
(Anniversary Sets)
(March 26th, 2012)

La-La Land Records
(November 28th, 2017)
Availability Icon
All albums up to the 2012 offerings are regular U.S. releases. The first two releases of 1997 and 1998 can be found for extremely low prices on the used CD market, though the 1998 DVD Audio album reached a value of at least $35.

The prices of the 2012 albums originally ranged from $12 for the 2-CD version to $22 for the 4-CD set. The cover art of all the releases' international pressings will vary. The 2017 La-La Land set is limited to 5,000 copies and available initially for $50 through soundtrack specialty outlets.

No promotional release was ever issued and no bootleg ever entered mass circulation.
The song "My Heart Will Go On" and the score both won Academy Awards and Golden Globes. That song also won a Grammy Award. The score was nominated for a BAFTA Award.
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Decorative Nonsense
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you somehow missed the engrossing phenomenon when it debuted in 1997 and you have an open mind about what is commonly considered (and ridiculed) as the most famous and romantic film score of the digital era.

Avoid it... if even the price of $0.01 for the first Titanic album on the used-CD market cannot entice you to explore the James Horner new-age triumph that resulted in the best-selling film score album in history.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 11/18/97, REVISED 6/17/18
Titanic: (James Horner) From the perspective of a typical, unbiased moviegoer, it may be difficult to recall exactly why the 1997 mega-blockbuster Titanic was so outrageously popular. The production had its documented successes and failures, but beyond the impressive technicalities of James Cameron's film, there was an intangible sense of hysteria that floated the doomed ship for a whole new generation of hopeless romantics upon the spectacle's release. Sweeping through box office records and collecting more Academy Awards than any other film in the modern era at the time, Titanic was a genuine phenomenon, and to adequately explain the reasons for its immeasurable allure now would inevitably fail to address the countless measures that supported it. In general, however, the three-hour epic managed to merge two typically incongruent genres in film: the historical tragedy with immense displays of special effects and the compelling story of two unlikely young lovers. Cameron's obsession with the sunken ship has since sent him on a journey to the farthest depths of the ocean and, in the meantime, to a 3D version of Titanic that earned countless more millions of dollars during its early 2012 theatrical release to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship's demise. Of equal hoopla was, once again, the soundtrack for Titanic, a pivotal element of the film's success. Only once in a rare moon do the stars of the universe align so that a film score bursts into the consciousness of the mainstream with such overwhelming appeal as Titanic had in early 1998. The same seemingly disparate elements of disaster and romance (along with period authenticity) that occupied the film demanded an atypical soundtrack from the start, for the narrative of the doomed ship's maiden voyage required a larger-than-life musical identity completely separate from the love story involving the two primary characters. The score that Cameron sought for Titanic was radically unconventional, bypassing the usual orchestral weight that would be expected for a period drama of this magnitude. Massive brass fanfares with sweeping string interludes were exactly what he did not want. Nor did he want proper 1912 English music deemed too stuffy for this depiction. He instead settled upon a distinctive style of timeless music to merge the two halves of the story into one fluid musical identity rooted mostly in romance, both for the leads and for the vessel.

When approaching the music for Titanic, Cameron concentrated on accentuating the love story and Irish undertones of both the Jack Dawson character and the ship's origins by choosing the new age, Celtic sounds popularized by Enya, Clannad, and several other artists popular of the 1990's. The resulting temp track for several portions of Titanic featured the music of Enya and, most specifically, the song "Book of Days" that had not only been released on her album, "Shepherd Moons," but had been featured successfully in Ron Howard's 1992 film Far and Away. There has always been speculation about the method by which composer James Horner came to receive a seven-figure salary for the composition and recording of the score. There were unconfirmed reports that Cameron had approached Enya directly to provide vocals for the score, though the same reports indicate that she withdrew from the process after learning that Horner would be writing the material rather than Enya being allowed to write her own score. The more interesting aspect of Titanic for film score fans was the apparent reconciliation between Horner and Cameron, who had not parted on good terms after the testy post-production disagreements of Aliens a decade before. Their shared success with Titanic encouraged them to reunite with impressive results for the arguably underrated Avatar more than a decade later. Horner's track record of writing scores overly saturated with the tones of both Ireland and Scotland in the 1990's was well known, with an apparent obsession on the cultural influence forcing the tones of uillean pipes and whistles, among other instruments, into scores that didn't really require their overt contributions. While this somewhat tiresome habit by Horner severely bothered many of the composer's many detractors by the 1990's, Cameron must have seen a perfect fit with his intended Celtic, new age sound and instructed Horner (who reportedly agreed with Cameron on the unconventional direction of the music) to closely follow the guidelines of the temp track. Horner was also skilled in the adaptation of existing music into films with just enough variation to avoid entangling studios in legal troubles, though he did long remain one of the few major composers ever to be sued for plagiarism. He succeeded at this task with better efficiency in some projects than others, with perhaps the most laughable adaptation coming over the credits of the prior dud, Red Heat.

Horner's score for Titanic indeed sounds very much in parts like Enya's style in parts, and despite significant talk at the time about a possible lawsuit and settlement between Enya and Horner, no such event has been officially confirmed. There remains much speculation about whether Eithne Patricia Ni Bhraonain (not quite as marketable a name as "Enya") could have received damages from Horner for copyright infringement in Titanic, though enough mainstream viewers were duped into thinking that they were listening to Enya during the film that a case might have been merited. The chart-topping new age artist was referred to by agents at the time as "the plaintiff," and while she would not receive the public recognition for inspiring the soundtrack for Titanic that she deserved, she was eventually nominated for an Academy Award herself for the song in the first The Lord of the Rings installment. (She, in an act of sad but appropriate justice, lost the award to the long overdue Randy Newman). For Horner, Titanic unsurprisingly netted him the only two Oscar wins of his career (for both the score and accompanying song) after countless failed nominations, and backstage after his win, he answered a media question about Enya by stating that he was simply inspired by the same genre of music rather than by Enya herself. With that comment, he brushed aside the controversy and was once estimated to personally profit to the sum of $30 million from the immense popularity of the initial two albums for the soundtrack. The first album accompanied the film's late 1997 release, and, naturally, a sequel album was assembled to accompany the video release of the film in August of 1998. The first album hit #1 on Billboard's "Top 200 Chart" for the weeks of 1/24/98 and 1/31/98, staying on pace with the film's continued earnings records for the same weeks. Sony Music Distribution reported that they shipped more than 969,000 units in the first nine weeks of the album's release, making it the fastest-selling score soundtrack and classical album of all time. Sony then reported that an astounding 665,000 additional copies were sold in the tenth week (ending 1/25/98) alone. It also set Sony records for the most orders in a single day (January 20, 1998). By remaining at the #1 position with Billboard during the week of 2/7/98, Titanic passed Vangelis' strangely endearing, wildly memorable 1981 score for Chariots of Fire as the top score soundtrack of all time in cumulative sales.

During the initial weeks of stunning popularity for Titanic, the Horner song for the film, "My Heart Will Go On," performed by Celine Dion, was ranked as "the most popular radio song" according to national broadcasting summaries, receiving more airtime than any other song of any genre of music. The first Titanic album remained at the top of the Billboard charts all the way through Oscar time in late March, weathering competition that included new mainstream releases by Celine Dion and Madonna. Sony eventually sold 26 million copies of the first album overall and an additional 3 million copies of "Back to Titanic." Such performance from a film score album has not been witnessed since, not even from Gladiator or Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black, the two most popular film score CDs in the following decade. For Horner personally, the cumulative sales of the first Titanic album, as well as the popular 1995 duo of the Braveheart and Apollo 13 CDs, made him the highest selling contemporary composer, surpassing John Williams. When you factor in the more substantive score for The Mask of Zorro the following year, Horner distinguished himself as the most dominant composer in Hollywood during the 1990's overall, defining the decade of film music as being led by his efforts. But did he deserve it? The scores for Braveheart, Apollo 13, and The Mask of Zorro, among several others, were far more embraced by the film score community than Titanic, which was seen as a pandering to screaming young girls rather than a gesture towards the seasoned film score collector. In the mainstream, there seems to be a lingering soft spot for Titanic, not anywhere near as positive as it once was, but it avoids the extreme discontent that a large section of the film score community still extends towards Titanic. For these listeners, the score was a necessary evil, bringing attention to the usually neglected genre of film music, though at an artistic price. For the remainder of film score fans, the score went through three distinct phases during its history. First, the hysteria that captured the mainstream in December of 1997 was mirrored by many soundtrack collectors. Then, for almost the entirety of 1998, a substantial backlash against the score and Horner followed. In the years since, the score still receives its share of disdainful criticism, though there is a begrudging recognition that it was an understandable product and triumph of its time.

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Average: 4.1 Stars
***** 15,148 5 Stars
**** 5,149 4 Stars
*** 3,476 3 Stars
** 1,798 2 Stars
* 1,718 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1997 Original and 1998 DVD Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 72:23
• 1. Never an Absolution (3:03)
• 2. Distant Memories (2:24)
• 3. Southampton (4:02)
• 4. Rose (2:52)
• 5. Leaving Port (3:26)
• 6. "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" (4:31)
• 7. "Hard to Starboard" (6:52)
• 8. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave (3:57)
• 9. The Sinking (5:05)
• 10. Death of Titanic (8:26)
• 11. A Promise Kept (6:03)
• 12. A Life So Changed (2:13)
• 13. An Ocean of Memories (7:58)
• 14. My Heart Will Go On - performed by Celine Dion (5:11)
• 15. Hymn to the Sea (6:26)
1998 Back to Titanic Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 79:05
2012 Anniversary Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 130:32
2012 Collector's Anniversary Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 247:35
2017 La-La Land Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 262:21

Notes Icon
Horner Conducting Titanic
James Horner, seen conducting Titanic in the Los Angeles Times article "They Shoot, They Score" published on July 28th, 1997.

The inserts for all albums contain extensive credits, a pictorial from the film, and notes from director James Cameron. The first album contains a very brief note from James Horner, while the insert for the 1998 "Back to Titanic" unfolds into a mini-poster. The 2012 albums contain similar notation as well as additional production photos and four "luggage stickers." The featured soloists listed on both albums include Sissel Kyrkjebø, Simon Franglen, Ian Underwood, Eric Rigler, Randy Kerber, James Horner, and Tony Hinnigan.

The original 1997 album's note from Cameron reads as follows:

"'Titanic' is first and above all a love story. The passion, the intimacy and the heart break one feels in watching a love story on film a created largely by the actors, but we help where we can with cinematography, set design and the other crafts. Of cource music is most important addition to the actors' work for increasing the emotional impact of the film.

James Horner's score for 'Titanic' is all I had hoped and prayed it would be and much more. It deftly leaps from intimacy to grandeur, from joy to heart-wrenching sadness and across the full emotional spectrum of the film while maintaining a stylistic and thematic unity. The music spans time, making immediate the actions and feelings of people 85 years ago with full emotional resonance without falling into either of the two dreaded traps the sweeping conventional period picture score, or the inappropriately modern and anachronistic "counter program" score.

James has walked the tightrope by using synthesizer, vocal and full orchestra to create a timeless sound which tells us that these people were not so very different from us. Their hope, their fears, their passions are like ours. In the film I have tried to accentuate the universalities of human behavior, rather than focus on the quaint differences between this other time and our own. James has done the same thing, bridging the gap of time and making these people seem so alive, so vibrant, so real that the dreaded event, when it finally comes is terrifying in the authenticity.

And most importantly, he has made us one with Jack and Rose, feeling the beat of their hearts as they experience the kind of love we all dream about, but seldom find."

The 1998 "Back to Titanic" album's note from Cameron reads as follows:

"Music was such an integral part of the dramatic and emotional impact of 'Titanic', and yet so much of the music created by James Horner and others couldn't be included in the first album that I felt compelled to encourage James to create a second album. And here it is.

When James and I met to discuss 'Titanic' for the first time almost two years ago, we both searched for words to express the depth of feeling we had for the subject and how we should go about scoring the film. I felt strongly that the score should be unconventional and not the classic period score with its sweeping orchestral stings. I wanted the film to transport the audience back in time and to make that moment in history not history but life... a moment spent with living people like you and me. The music had to have emotional power and a life energy that could move an audience now , in the closing years of our jaded and revved-up century, without sounding gimmicky or anachronistic.

James had anticipated me, and already was hearing in his mind's ear a kind of soaring and transcendent sound using human voice, perhaps accompanied by synthesized vocal textures, combined with Celtic instruments like uillean pipe and pennywhistle to create lyrical and haunting emotionalism. This would create a timeless quality, while avoiding the classic "period movie" sound. The orchestra of course, would be integrated with these sounds as needed, to create the grace and majesty the subject demanded.

I was tremendously excited by that initial encounter and so we embarked on what proved to be, for both of us, the most grueling and demanding, yet ultimately the most rewarding, creative partnership of our careers. Early in '97, as filming ended, James invited me to his studio where he played some initial sketches and melodies on the piano. I will never forget the moment before James began to play... sitting there hoping and praying the themes would be good. And realizing minutes later that the themes were far beyond good. They were everything I had dreamed, perfectly capturing the aching, bittersweet heart of the film.

James has created a new suite of music, comprising light and dark sections from the score, which represents the "soul" of his remarkable music for 'Titanic'. Sections of the score which were not included in the first soundtrack are integrated into this suite. In addition we have included several of the source numbers from the film. From the haunting and unforgettable "Nearer My God to Thee" to the raucous pipe and drum rhythms heard in the Irish folk music played in the lower decks, these selections recreate the most poignant moments in the life and death of the great ship.

Let the music take you back to that moment in history, that more innocent and optimistic time before the Twentieth Century declared itself the mad juggernaut it became in later decades. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was played on the deck by Wallace Hartley's small orchestra and lifted spirits as the ship settled, lights blazing, into black oblivion. And "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine", which Jack briefly sings for Rose, was a top hit song the year before the sinking. It is of course my favorite, since my daughter's name is Josephine."

Lyrics to "My Heart Will Go On:"

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you,
That is how I know you go on.
Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on.

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on.
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart,
And my heart will go on and on.

Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime.
And never let go till we're gone.
Love was when I loved you,
One true time I hold to,
In my life we'll always go on.

Near, far, wherever you are,
I believe that the heart does go on.
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart.
And my heart will go on and on.

You're here, there's nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way,
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.
Copyright © 1997-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Titanic are Copyright © 1997, 1998, 2012, 2017, Sony Music Soundtrax (Original), Sony Music Soundtrax (Back to Titanic), Sony Music Soundtrax (DVD Audio), Sony Masterworks/Sony Classical (Anniversary Sets), La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/18/97 and last updated 6/17/18.
There are some review pages at Filmtracks that drive the editor insane. Since 1997, this has been the worst of them all. Judging from my son Caelen's screaming during the 2008 re-write of the review (he was a year old at the time), Titanic won't be popular with the hip 2020's crowd.
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