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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

DiFranco Joins 'Best Friend's Wedding' Party

June 08, 1997|Steve Hochman

Ani DiFranco--the new Celine Dion?

DiFranco, the folk-pop maverick who has steadfastly held to both her feminist stance and indie-label approach to the music business, has indeed side-stepped into Dion territory.

The critical darling has recorded a pop song touting "traditional" romantic values for a major film . . . the very kind of thing that swept Dion to the top of the charts last year.

"Yeah, that's me!" says DiFranco, giggling when asked about the Dion comparison.

Dion's version of Diane Warren's "Because You Loved Me" set the tone for the movie "Up Close and Personal" in its look at a young newswoman's devotion to her mentor. DiFranco's performance of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David classic "Wishin' and Hopin' " also apparently sets the tone for the upcoming "My Best Friend's Wedding." The song is about what a woman needs to do to attract and keep a man.

"I guess the irony appealed to my sick sense of humor," DiFranco says. "It's important for all of us to be able to poke fun at ourselves. People have always tried to rob me of my sense of humor. There's a perception for some that I'm kind of a dire, dogmatic person."

The project came about as the result of a mutual admiration between DiFranco and the movie's director, P.J. Hogan, the Australian filmmaker whose comedy "Muriel's Wedding" was a recent DiFranco favorite. DiFranco first was asked to write a new song for the film, which stars Julia Roberts and will be in theaters June 20.

But then she was instead asked to do "Wishin'," one of six Bacharach songs being used in the film, with Diana King, Nicky Holland and Mary Chapin Carpenter among the others singing them. (The album, due June 17, also features new recordings by Jann Arden, Amanda Marshall and Tony Bennett.) DiFranco's number actually opens the picture, with the credits rolling over a scene at a wedding where the bridesmaids lip-sync to her vocals.

"P.J. wanted me to play the bride in that, which would have been fun with my blue, spiky hair," the singer says. "Unfortunately, the timing didn't work out."

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