One of the most iconic aspects of Beauty and the Beast is undoubtedly its soundtrack; composed by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, the songs and score essentially turn a good movie into an outstanding piece of animated musical theater. Their music is why Beauty and the Beast translates so well onto the stage, and why the soundtrack became the first animated film soundtrack to receive an Album of the Year Grammy nomination, something no other animated film has achieved since.
When Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991, Menken and Ashman received three Best Song nominations at the Academy Awards for Beauty and the Beast songs; the titular ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Belle’ were all nominated, with ‘Beauty and the Beast’ winning the category. Though performed by Angela Lansbury in the animated movie, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was also recorded as a duet performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, and the single peaked at number 9 on the Billboard chart.
Once again, the titular number has been chosen to be released as a single to coincide with the live-action Beauty and the Beast, this time performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend. The song will also feature in the movie. Ahead of the soundtrack release on March 10th, Grande and Legend’s duet has been released online and can be listened to, above.
Single producer, Ron Fair, says he’s aiming for “a new school-old school fresh treatment that shows the soulfulness and power of what a great melody and lyric can inspire,” and that much is evident from the track. For most, admittedly, this version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ won’t better the Dion/Bryson version, but then that, in turn, can’t really beat Lansbury’s version that is featured in the animated movie. Will Emma Thompson, as Mrs. Potts, get her chance to sing the classic track, and if so, what will it be like?
Whatever your thoughts on Legend’s falsetto, or Grande’s vocal gymnastics, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is very likely to be a big hit; anticipation and excitement for the movie is very high, and those who were children when the first movie came out, now have their own money to purchase their own music, so sales are likely to rocket. Fair has managed to capture the majestic, sweeping breadth of the orchestral score, anyhow; and when used as the music for the newest trailer, Grande and Legend’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fits perfectly. Dave Meyers directs the music video for ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which might deliver some new footage from the movie when it is released next month.