Leona Lewis is hoping ‘Avatar’ song will be a ‘Titanic’ success

Nov. 22, 2009 | 1:20 p.m.

“AVATAR” COUNTDOWN: 27 DAYS

James Cameron’s decade-long quest to deliver his sci-fi epic “Avatar” to moviegoers is nearing its climax. We’re counting down the days to the Dec. 18 release with daily coverage here at the mighty Hero Complex. Today we consider the sound of “Avatar,” specifically the theme song by Leona Lewis.

Leona Lewis

 

In late 1997 and early 1998, as “Titanic” sailed into box-office history, there was no escaping the film even if you never walked into a movie theater — Celine Dion’s recording of “My Heart Will Go On” was a massive hit and spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard radio airplay chart.

“My Heart Will Go On” won the Oscar for best song and also won Grammys in the marquee categories of song of the year and record of the year. The melodramatic hit, the biggest of Dion’s platinum-plated career, propelled the film and vice versa — and now Cameron and the “Avatar” team are hoping for a similar sort of synergy with the Leona Lewis recording of “I See You,” the theme that will play over the closing credits of the sci-fi epic.

It’s hard to imagine anyone could catch that “Titanic”-style lightning in a bottle twice, but Cameron has some familiar faces helping with the attempt. Oscar-winning composer James Horner (who shared the songwriting credit on “My Heart Will Go On” with lyricist Will Jennings) was brought into the studio as a producer on the Lewis recording, as was Simon Franglen, who was one of three credited producers of the “Titanic” track.

Lewis is a 24-year-old British singer with considerable success — she is a three-time Grammy nominee, one in the prestigious record of the year category for her hit “Bleeding Love” — and she was in London last week filming a video for “I See You” with U.K. director Jake Nava. Nava has worked with artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Britney Spears, the Cranberries and System of a Down but may be best known for two of Beyoncé’s signature hits, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Crazy in Love.” Lewis  has been in Los Angeles this week for an especially busy trip, with appearances Thursday on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and Friday on the outdoor stage of “Jimmy Kimmel Live“; tonight she will sing on the American Music Awards on ABC.)

I haven’t heard the song yet but I do know that “I See You” gets its title from an expression of respect and connection used by the Na’vi, the tribe of giant blue-hued aliens who lived on the troubled moon of Pandora in “Avatar.”  We’ll have an interview with Horner here at the Hero Complex later this week and get some details about the Lewis sessions and the song, as well as his score for the off-world adventure. The album “Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture” goes on sale Dec. 15.

– Geoff Boucher

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Photo: Leona Lewis. Credit: Associated Press

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