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 on November 18, 1997. Riding the wave of the film's immense success, the soundtrack shot to the top of the charts in nearly two-dozen territories, selling over 30 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time, and the highest-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack ever.
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. After she declined, he approached James Horner. Their relations were cold after their first cooperation 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.
Celine Dion, who was no stranger to movie songs in the 1990s, 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; 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. The idea behind using electronics, rather than a real choir, stemmed from Horner wanting to avoid a 'church'-like sound.
- "Never an Absolution" – 3:03
- "Distant Memories" – 2:23
- "Southampton" – 4:01
- "Rose" – 2:52
- "Leaving Port" – 3:26
- "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" – 4:31
- "Hard to Starboard" – 6:52
- "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave" – 3:56
- "The Sinking" – 5:05
- "Death of Titanic" – 8:26
- "A Promise Kept" – 6:02
- "A Life So Changed" – 2:13
- "An Ocean of Memories" – 7:57
- "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from Titanic)" Céline Dion – 5:11
- "Hymn to the Sea" – 6:25
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.
The soundtrack quickly moved up the Billboard 200 chart, going from number eleven to number one on the Billboard 200 in January, 1998. 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 11x Platinum for 11 million copies shipped in the United States, becoming the best-selling album of 1998, and the fastest-certified soundtrack album, ever.
The soundtrack also hit number-one in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The soundtrack was certified 5x Platinum by the ARIA in Australia for 350,000 copies shipped. It was certified 3x Platinum in the United Kingdom for over 900,000 copies shipped; and was certified diamond by the CRIA in Canada for 1,000,000 copies shipped. The soundtrack is the best-selling foreign repertoire in Taiwan with 1,100,000 copies sold, and is the only foreign album to have sold more than one million copies, being certified 22x Platinum.