When Steven Tyler Replaced Celine Dion

All works have beginning, middle, and ending stages, which cause them to change shape and even their purpose on the way. When a song is created, for example, it never stays in its initial form, as it gets interpreted and executed differently with each process and every touch. Sometimes, even the singer who was set to sing the song changes by the end.

Take Roger Daltrey‘s ‘Let Me Down Easy’ as an instance. Even though Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance initially wrote the song for Stevie Nicks,  it suited Daltrey and entered the charts with his voice. It’s unknown what caused the change, but the music eventually found its place on his album.

Similarly, Aerosmith‘s number one hit, ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,’ was not meant for them despite all the success it brought to the band. Diane Warren, who wrote the song for the movie Armageddon, had Celine Dion in her mind while working on it. But how did it end up in Aerosmith’s repertoire?

The song is a power ballad with romantic undertones that drew inspiration from Barbara Streisand and James Brolin‘s relationship in 1998. So, it is not the type of song you would expect to hear from a hard rock band; however, as soon as the band recorded the tune, mixing it with their style, it fitted them and the movie’s atmosphere.

Diane Warren’s song was reshaped on the way from Celine Dion to Aerosmith, and though it was not what she expected, the result pleased her and anyone else who had doubts about the song, like the band’s drummer, Joey Kramer. Wikipedia reports that the drummer did not believe the song was suitable for them.

The initial form of the song was a mix of piano tunes and singing, which did not align with Kramer’s interests. So, he was aloof to the idea of recording it as a band, but as soon as they started, they made it their own, and it created a legend.

He recalled the memory as follows:

“When I first heard it, it was just a demo with piano and singing. It was difficult to imagine what kind of touch Aerosmith could put on it and make it our own… As soon as we began playing it as a band, then it instantly became an Aerosmith song.

Giving the song a chance with Aerosmith resulted in the band’s biggest hit getting into Billboard Hot 100 as number one and remaining there for four weeks when it was released. ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ also got nominated for Academy Awards in the category ‘Best Original Song’ and received mostly positive feedback, including Billboard’s 1998 review.

The magazine wrote:

“If you’re among the many who adore Aerosmith when it indulges in power balladry à la ‘Angel,’ then you’re in for a real treat. This tune from the imminent soundtrack to ‘Armageddon’ shows the enduring rock troupe happily giving in to the romance of superstar tunesmith Diane Warren’s sweet tune—but with an appropriate dash of guitar-juiced melodrama. Steven Tyler’s signature belting is so intensely over the top that he frequently seems to be shrieking. It’s a high-voltage performance that is matched by a collision of rock-styled instrumentation and grand, faux-classical orchestration. It’s a recipe that will prove irresistible to programmers at Top 40 and AC formats.”

She did not think Steven Tyler would be the one singing the song, but according to her 2016 interview with Dave Fawbert, Warren expressed her satisfaction with the result and Tyler’s interpretation. She even considers it one of her favorite vocals.

In the interview, the songwriter depicted her opinion of Tyler’s vocals as follows:

“I would say to be honest, Steven Tyler’s vocal on ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘Til It Happens To You’ are probably my favorite two vocals I’ve ever heard – like I’ve ever heard, not even just my songs – but there’s certainly been other ones, all the Celine stuff, Toni Braxton… I’m lucky to work with such amazing singers.”

The song started as a romantic piece made for Celine Dion and became a successful work mixed with hard rock and Aerosmith’s style. Despite initial concerns that they were not a good match, the band and the song worked together seamlessly and became favorites. Sometimes, changes during the creative process can greatly benefit the music and the artist.