Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture

Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture is the soundtrack to the film of the same name composed, orchestrated and conducted by James Horner. The soundtrack was released by Sony Classical/Sony Music Soundtrax on November 18, 1997.[1]

Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture
VA - Titanic - OST.JPG
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedNovember 18, 1997
LabelSony Classical/Sony Music Soundtrax
Singles from Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture
  1. "My Heart Will Go On"
    Released: December 8, 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars
Film Score Reviews5/5 stars
Filmtracks5/5 stars
Movie Wave3/5 stars

Riding the wave of the film's immense success, the soundtrack shot to the top of the charts in nearly two-dozen territories,[2] selling over 30 million copies, making it one of the top 100 best-selling albums in the United States.[3] It is one of the best-selling albums of all time, and the highest-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack ever.[4]

In 2012, the album, along with its successor Back to Titanic (1998), was re-issued as part of the Collector's Anniversary Edition set for the 3D re-release of the film. In 2017, La-La Land Records released the 20th Anniversary Edition in a limited edition 4-disc release.

Album informationEdit

Director James Cameron originally intended Enya to compose the music, and in fact put together a rough edit of the film using her music as a temporary soundtrack.[5] After she declined, he approached James Horner. Their relationship was strained after their first collaboration in Aliens, but the soundtrack of Braveheart made Cameron overlook it. Horner composed the soundtrack having in mind Enya's style; Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø performed the wordless vocals on the soundtrack.

Horner knew Sissel from the album Innerst i sjelen and he particularly liked how she sang the song Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg ("I Know in Heaven There Is a Castle"). Horner had tried 25 or 30 singers and, in the end, he chose Sissel to sing the wordless tune.[6]

Céline Dion, who was no stranger to movie songs in the 1990s, since her contribution to Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast, sang "My Heart Will Go On", the film's signature song written by James Horner and Will Jennings. At first, Cameron did not want a song sung over the film's ending credits, but Horner disagreed. Without telling Cameron, he went ahead and wrote the song anyway, and recorded Dion singing it. Cameron changed his mind when Horner presented the song to him. "My Heart Will Go On" became a worldwide smash hit, going to the top of the music charts around the world. "My Heart Will Go On" also ended up winning the 1997 Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1998.

Other artists were invited to submit songs for the movie including contemporary Christian artist Michael W. Smith. He mentions in the liner notes to the song "In My Arms Again" from his 1998 album Live the Life;[7] "Inspired and written for the movie Titanic, grateful for the opportunity to send them a song; grateful it landed on this record."

For the choral background of certain tracks, Horner made use of a digital choir instead of a real one; after the orchestral music was recorded, Horner personally performed the synthesized choir over a playback of the recording.[8][9] The idea behind using electronics, rather than a real choir, stemmed from Horner wanting to avoid a 'church'-like sound.[10]

Principal leitmotifsEdit

(Hymn to the Sea) This recurring theme is usually associated with the tragic elements of Titanic.
(Southampton) This rapturous, cheerful theme is associated with the joyous elements of Titanic.
(Rose) This romantic cue is associated with the love story. It's a recurring theme in the film.
(Hard to Starboard) The short, ominous cue associated with the iceberg.

Throughout the film, the composer created themes for particular characters, events, locations, and ideas.[11]

  • Hymn to the Sea — A sorrowful, melancholic theme which expresses the tragic side of the Titanic. It's also featured prominently in Never An Absolution. This theme contains uilleann pipes and vocals by Sissel Kyrkjebø. An alternate version is first heard in the film's opening sequence. Furthermore, the track contains a menacing, descending, three-note motif which signifies the wreck of the ship and is first featured when Titanic's wreck site comes in view at the beginning of the film.
  • Southampton — Uplifting, adventurous and rather heroic-sounding theme which signifies the spectacle of the Titanic. This melody features an electronic choir and snare drum clumps. This theme is first heard when bringing the safe up to the research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh. Parts of its can be heard in Hymn to the Sea.
  • Distant Memories — This leitmotif contains synth choir vocals and an aquatic, chiming tone. It represents the Heart of the Ocean and the history of the Titanic. This piece is first heard when old Rose is taken aboard the Keldysh.
  • Rose — The sentimental theme of the film that is associated with the romance between Jack and Rose. Whilst in the major key for the most parts, this leitmotif's rousing chorus modulates to the relative minor key. The theme features orchestral violin, strings and piano. Electronic choir intrudes at times. Sissel Kyrkjebø performs the wordless vocals of this theme, with Céline Dion singing this leitmotif in lyrical form (as My Heart Will Go On). This theme is first heard when Jack sees Rose for the first time on the deck.
  • Hard to Starboard — This piece contains the ominous leitmotif associated with the iceberg (i.e. Iceberg Theme), which is first heard when the iceberg is spotted. It also contains a percussion-heavy, pulsating motif that corresponds to the peril and danger the characters endure during the sinking. Anvils are extensively used in this track.
  • Death of Titanic — This track contains a descending, tumid and foreboding motif that also corresponds to peril and danger. It is played during the scene where the ship slowly starts to submerge into the ocean. To note, the descending cue is also heard in other tracks (i.e. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave), such as when Jack and Rose are chased by Cal, although it sounds slightly altered.

Commercial performanceEdit

Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture became the highest-selling primarily orchestral film score in history, with worldwide sales surpassing 30 million copies. The success led to the release of a second volume, called Back to Titanic which contained a mixture of previously unreleased soundtrack recordings and newly recorded performances of some of the songs in the film, including one track recorded by Clannad (of which Enya is an ex-member) singer, Máire Brennan. Back to Titanic was certified platinum by the RIAA.[12]

The soundtrack quickly moved up the US Billboard 200, going from number eleven to number one on the chart in January 1998, keeping Shania Twain's Come On Over and Madonna's Ray of Light from reaching the top spot. It would remain at the top for sixteen straight weeks until it was replaced by the Dave Matthews Band album Before These Crowded Streets. No album since has spent at least ten consecutive weeks at number-one. The soundtrack has been certified 11× Platinum for 11 million copies shipped in the United States,[13] becoming the best-selling album of 1998, and the fastest-certified soundtrack album ever.[14][15]

The soundtrack also hit number-one in at least 14 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The soundtrack was certified 5× Platinum by the ARIA in Australia for 350,000 copies shipped.[16] It was certified 3× Platinum in the United Kingdom for over 900,000 copies shipped;[17] and was certified diamond by the CRIA in Canada for 1 million copies shipped.[18] The soundtrack is the best-selling non-Chinese CD album in both Taiwan and China, selling 1.1 million copies in the former and 1 million copies in the latter.

Track listingEdit

Standard editionEdit

All music is composed by James Horner, "My Heart Will Go On" lyrics written by Will Jennings.

Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture
1."Never an Absolution"3:03
2."Distant Memories"2:23
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"3:56
9."The Sinking"5:05
10."Death of Titanic"8:26
11."A Promise Kept"6:02
12."A Life So Changed"2:13
13."An Ocean of Memories"7:57
14."My Heart Will Go On" (Lyric by Will Jennings, vocals by Céline Dion, produced by James Horner, Walter Afanasieff, and Simon Franglen)5:11
15."Hymn to the Sea"6:26

Two Disc Anniversary EditionEdit

All tracks are written by James Horner, "My Heart Will Go On" lyrics written by Will Jennings.

All tracks performed by I Salonisti. Each tracks written by various composers as noted.

Four Disc Anniversary EditionEdit

All music is composed by James Horner, "My Heart Will Go On" lyrics written by Will Jennings.

All music is composed by James Horner, except where noted.

All tracks performed by I Salonisti. Each tracks written by various composers as noted.

Each tracks performed by various artists as noted.

20th Anniversary EditionEdit

All music is composed by James Horner, except where noted.

All music is composed by James Horner.

All music is composed by James Horner.

Tracks performed by various artists as noted. Each tracks written by various composers as noted.


Sales and certificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[54] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[55] 5× Platinum 350,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[56] 2× Platinum 100,000*
Belgium (BEA)[57] 3× Platinum 150,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[58] Diamond 1,000,000^
China 1,000,000[59]
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[60] Platinum 73,509[60]
France (SNEP)[62] Diamond 1,726,800[61]
Germany (BVMI)[63] 5× Gold 1,250,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[64] Platinum 20,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[65] Million 1,410,000[66]
Netherlands (NVPI)[67] 7× Platinum 700,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[68] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[69] 2× Platinum 100,000*
Philippines 230,000[70]
Poland (ZPAV)[71] 7× Platinum 700,000*
Sweden (GLF)[72] 2× Platinum 160,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[73] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[74] 4× Platinum 200,000^
Taiwan (RIT)[75] 21× Platinum 1,050,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[77] 3× Platinum 1,002,000[76]
United States (RIAA)[79] Diamond 10,200,000[78]
Europe (IFPI)[80] 5× Platinum 5,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit