You haven’t seen BEAUTY AND THE BEAST yet but that’s ok, you’re going to do the right thing and eventually get yourself to the theater as soon as you can. But for now, you might be wondering–just what exactly did Disney do to the music of the beloved animated classic? In a word, they did it good!
Surely, they couldn’t have gone too far off track as they brought on the original composer Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice. The end result is a more robust and mature offering that is ever just the same in terms of charm but reveals something there that wasn’t there before. In addition to featuring updated versions of the songs from the original 1991 feature, they created four brand new songs to fit new moments for the film.
One notable change that purists will find new and a bit alarming at first blush is the “Main Title: Prologue Pt. 1” which features a voice narration almost identical to the original but done by Hattie Morahan. It’s different but no less captivating and enchanting. When you hear those initial piano strokes for that iconic opening, it does come as a little bit of a surprise to hear her voice instead of the deep booming narrator from the original feature. Her performance is no less storied and appropriate.
Emma Watson does a serviceable job trying to recapture the magic of the beautifully sweet voice of Paige O’Hara‘s Belle but doesn’t quite hit the same mark. At times, it does seem quite evident that her voice has been digitally assisted for some of the bigger swells. Still, she has made the character her own rather than trying to imitate a version to which he she could possibly not match. And that’s actually fine. She certainly sounds like a Belle of this era, especially in “Belle (Reprise)” and she blurts out in frustration about marrying Gaston.
Dan Stevens, whose voice is obviously given a beastly digital enhancement, also sounds terrific in his new solo “Evermore” which comes in at the tender moment in which he truly realizes that he loves Belle as he sees her leaving his castle. The Josh Groban end-credits version of the same song is a beautiful “radio-friendly” adaptation.
“How Does a Moment Last Forever” is another new song–first performed by Maurice, then by Belle as a reprise. The Celine Dion end-credit version is 100% stunning Celine Dion magic. It’s what you want, expect, and demand from her and it’s gorgeous.
Luke Evans and Josh Gad are perfectly suited for their singing roles as Gaston and LeFou, respectively. The expanded “Gaston” and “Mob Song” theme are a welcome bit of extra tune-age. We also find the golden voice of Audra McDonald woefully under-represented but as just magical as we’d hope in the few instances spared to her during “Aria” and in“Beauty and the Beast (Finale)”.
What about the old favorites? They’re fine. Purists will undoubtedly draw all the comparisons to the nuanced differences but the new versions work just as well as all the other countless re-inventions of the classic songs. “Beauty and the Beast” by Emma Thompson in the film is beautiful and the end-credit version by John Legend and Ariana Grande is 100% serviceable, certainly better than most other reinterpretations but nowhere near as iconic as the original. “Be Our Guest” perhaps doesn’t quite build quite as emotionally impactful as the original and we’ve found that the French accent of Ewan McGreggor has been a polarizing interpretation.
Playing a semi-safe route, Disney has crafted a new version of the former that perhaps isn’t better but at least rekindles some old magic and reintroduces a familiar world of song to a whole new generation.
Beauty And The Beast
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2017
- Overture (Alan Menken)
- Main Title: Prologue Pt. 1 (Alan Menken)
- Aria (Audra McDonald)
- Main Title: Prologue Pt. 2 (Alan Menken)
- Belle (Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
- How Does A Moment Last Forever (Music Box) (Kevin Kline)
- Belle (Reprise) (Emma Watson)
- Gaston (Josh Gad, Luke Evans, Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
- Be Our Guest (Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
- Days In The Sun (Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Adam Mitchell, Stanley Tucci, Clive Rowe)
- Something There (Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Dan Stevens, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nathan Mack)
- How Does A Moment Last Forever (Montmartre) (Emma Watson)
- Beauty and the Beast (Emma Thompson)
- Evermore (Dan Stevens)
- The Mob Song (Emma Thompson, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Luke Evans, Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Mack)
- Beauty and the Beast (Finale) (Audra McDonald, Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast, Emma Thompson)
- How Does A Moment Last Forever (Celine Dion)
- Beauty and the Beast (John Legend, Ariana Grande)
- Evermore (Josh Groban)
- Aria (Alan Menken)
- How Does A Moment Last Forever (Music Box) (Alan Menken)
- Days In The Sun (Alan Menken)
- How Does A Moment Last Forever (Montmartre) (Alan Menken)
- Evermore (Alan Menken)
- Main Title: Prologue (Alan Menken)
- Belle Meets Gaston (Alan Menken)
- Your Mother (Alan Menken)
- The Laverie (Alan Menken)
- Wolf Chase (Alan Menken)
- Entering the Castle (Alan Menken)
- A White Rose (Alan Menken)
- The Beast (Alan Menken)
- Meet the Staff (Alan Menken)
- Home (Alan Menken)
- Madame De Garderobe (Alan Menken)
- There’s a Beast (Alan Menken)
- A Petal Drops (Alan Menken)
- A Bracing Cup of Tea (Alan Menken)
- The West Wing (Alan Menken)
- Wolves Attack Belle (Alan Menken)
- The Library (Alan Menken)
- Colonnade Chat (Alan Menken)
- The Plague (Alan Menken)
- Maurice Accuses Gaston (Alan Menken)