With the release of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast just a couple of months away, attentions are turning toward the musical aspect of the film, with two clips already released of Emma Watson singing in her role of Belle. We have yet to hear any of the other cast members sing, but it’s undoubtedly the part we are all looking forward to most of all. Written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, Beauty and the Beast’s music was what set the original 1991 animated movie apart from other Disney films and elevated it from being just an enjoyable movie to something truly magical.
Upon its release, the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack received universal critical acclaim, and became the first ever animated film soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year. In the end, the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack picked up 5 Grammys, and Golden Globes for Best Soundtrack and Best Original Song. At the Oscars, where Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film to be nominated in the Best Picture category, the movie also won the Academy Award for Best Original Score, and had three songs nominated in the Best Original Song category, winning for the titular song, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. The classic song will once again be released as a single to tie-in with the movie’s release, with Disney announcing that a new version will be recorded, this time performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend.
The song will also be featured in the live-action film, but will also hopefully be performed by Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, just like Angela Lansbury before her. The lyrics tell of a ‘tale as old as time’ as Belle and the Beast’s feelings toward one another begin to change from hatred to love. Dion and Bryson had a hit with the song, peaking at number 9 on the Billboard chart and within the top ten in the U.K., but regardless, Angela Lansbury’s version is the preferred version for most, and thought of as a classic.
In that regard, perhaps Grande and Legend don’t have too much to live up to; after all, both are regarded as hit recording artists and strong performers, but can their vocals (in particular Grande’s) deliver something to a song that doesn’t seem to be lacking anything? The decision to release ‘Beauty and the Beast’ again is understandable, but often the single version of a hit song from a movie is not the one people want to listen to, or buy. Case in point; ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen was released as a single with Demi Lovato on vocals, but everyone who is anyone tries to recreate the version from the movie, sung by Idina Menzel. Then again, Grande and Legend are both platinum recording, Grammy Award-winning recording artists, and Legend even has an Oscar win under his belt. Perhaps their combined fanbase will make this song a huge hit.
Single producer, Ron Fair, who brought Grande and Legend to the project, promises to deliver “a new school-old school fresh treatment that shows the soulfulness and power of what a great melody and lyric can inspire.” Depending on your thoughts regarding the appointment of Grande and Legend, that quote will either fill you with hope, or make you shudder, but the new school-old school vibe is what Disney have been channeling throughout this Beauty and the Beast reimagining. The trailers for the live-action version can be played almost frame for frame alongside the animated trailers, including the exact same dialogue, but at the same time, Menken has written three new songs for the movie, with lyricist Tim Rice, and new characters are also introduced in the film, including Stanley Tucci as Cadenza, a grand piano.
The Beauty and the Beast soundtrack will be released on March 10th.