A singer's first Christmas recording is always a landmark, but for Celine Dion, who had already released two holiday albums in French earlier in her career, her first English language Christmas project, These Are Special Times, was a true milestone. The release of the album on Epic Records in early November 1998 climaxed the most successful year that the Canadian megastar had experienced to that moment. It was solidified during Thanksgiving week, when the Emmy-nominated television special of the same name was broadcast in the U.S. on the CBS network. The album quickly rose to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart that season, and No. 1 on the Christmas chart – where it was re-listed for 6 consecutive years inside the Top 10, attaining 5x platinum sales in the U.S. alone.
These Are Special Times covers the full range of Christmas fare, starting with the traditional "O Holy Night" and "Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)," and three from the pens of classical composers Johannes Brahms ("Brahms' Lullaby," "Les Cloches du Hameau") and Franz Schubert ("Ave Maria"). From the Great American Songbook come the Elvis associated "Blue Christmas" (with Diana Krall) and Mel Tormé's "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)"; while Classic Rock is represented by John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and José Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad."
On the contemporary side, fellow Canadian Bryan Adams wrote "Another Year Has Gone By," Dee Snider of Twisted Sister wrote "The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)," Diane Warren wrote "These Are the Special Times," and "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" was co-written by Dion and Ric Wake. Finally, there are the album's two duets: "I'm Your Angel" with R. Kelly, and "The Prayer" with Andrea Bocelli.
- O Highly Night
- Don't Save It All for Christmas Day
- Blue Christmas
- Another Year Has Gone By
- The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)
- Ava Maria
- Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
- The Prayer
- Brahms' Lullaby
- Christmas Eve
- These Are the Special Times
- Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
- I'm Your Angel
- Felix Navidad
- Les Cloches du Hameau