Discs Are Rated
VH1 Divas Live '98
review by Ren C.
Running Time: 80 minutes
Starring: Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin,
Gloria Estefan, Carole King, Shania Twain
Retail Price: $24.98
Features: Production Notes
Specs: Full-Screen (1.33:1), English (Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English, Spanish
& French Subtitles
In 1998, VH1 had the relatively brilliant idea of
bringing together five of music's most noted female artists
for the purpose of raising money for the "Save the Music"
charity, which attempts to bring music back into schools.
These were not any female artists that they brought
together, however, these were divas. The lineup was very
impressive, and the observers were amazed that the night
went by without any major complications. The players: the
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Canadian diva
Celine Dion, country queen Shania Twain and Latin diva
Gloria Estefan. Also included in this ensemble is Carole
King, who apparently isn't a big enough diva to be mentioned
on the packaging. These six women came together to put on
an absolutely spellbinding concert, with each woman
performing her biggest hits, and then combining on several
The rundown goes something like this. Mariah Carey is
the first artist on stage, and does a standard and
dance-version rendition of "My All." I should note that she
has the assistance of her hair on this matter as it
threatens to eat the orchestra and everyone in attendance on
several occasions. Next, she launches into "Make It Happen"
as the night is all about making it happen. Gloria Estefan
is up next, and she does her standard repertoire, but makes
it very entertaining. First is her much-better-than-average
cover of "Turn The Beat Around." Next is "Heaven's What I
Feel" which doesn't quite hold up to some of her older
material, but is entertaining nonetheless. Then, what every
one is waiting for from Estefan, the Megamix. She launches
into every 80's hit that she had and somehow manages to make
it sound cohesive.
We have to sit through a couple of "Save The Music"
spots, which is only fair considering that this is the
purpose of concert. The concert doesn't slow down after
this, as Shania Twain bounds on-stage almost in mid-verse of
"Man! I Feel Like A Woman!". Next, Twain treats us to
"You're Still The One". Following another "Save the Music"
spot, Aretha Franklin is introduced, but she's brought a
friend in Mariah Carey. The two divas duet on "Chain Of
Fools", which is actually closer to Aretha singing with
Mariah standing close by. Next up is Celine Dion, the
Canadian wonder, who actually has the common decency to not
start with the Titanic song. She actually starts with a
very entertaining rendition of "River Deep, Mountain High."
She then brings out Carole King for a performance of "The
Reason" from her "Let's Talk About Love" album. King is the
writer of "The Reason", so this is only appropriate. Then
she feels the need to break out the Titanic song, because
this is the 86th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic
or some such. Hi, Celine, this is America. No more Titanic
Thankfully, things pick right back up with Dion, Estefan,
Twain and King coming together for King's song "You've Got A
Friend", which is an absolutely great rendition of the song.
The concert wraps up with all the divas back on stage to do "Natural
Woman". After this, Aretha basically takes control as the
others stay on stage on watch as she shines in "Testimony."
Overall, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event with six
absolutely great performers. Each woman is given the chance
to shine, and does so well. Best of all, the proceeds for
the concert go to a great cause, as the spots so greatly
The concert looks much better than it does on TV
broadcasts, with the picture looking bright and rich, with
no artifacts or graining. Each artist looks her best, and
it is almost like we are there in the audience.
There is a great audio mix for this concert, with the
proceedings being available in either Dolby Digital 5.1
Surround or Dolby 2.0. This is a live concert, and sounds
like it, with the audience being evident as well as the
performers. Overall, a great mix.
Not exactly feature-rich, but with some minor features,
the disc is fairly neutral. The lyrics to each of the songs
are provided via a subtitle track in English, Spanish or
French. The only other feature is "The Making of VH1 Divas
Live" which at first look, seems to be a documentary of some
sort. Sadly, it is just a set of production notes which
detail the way that the concert was put together and is
illustrated by some still photos. More could have been put
on this disc, certainly, like VH1 promo spots, individual
music videos, or any of a number of other things. As it is,
this disc is fairly bare bones.
This is a phenomenal concert, and I have no reservations
about recommending it to fans of any of these artists. The
concert looks much better than it ever did on television,
but is essentially the same as a television broadcast, with
little in the way of extra features. The sound goes a long
way here, and leads me to a mild recommendation of this
(4.5/5, NOT included in
(3.5/5, NOT an average)