Beauty and the Beast (Disney song)

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"Beauty and the Beast"
Song by Angela Lansbury from the album Beauty and the Beast
Released October 29, 1991
Recorded 1990
Length 2:46
Label Walt Disney
Writer Alan Menken (music)
Howard Ashman (lyrics)[1][2]
Producer Howard Ashman
Alan Menken
"Beauty and the Beast"
Single by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson
from the album Beauty and the Beast and Celine Dion
Released November 16, 1991 (1991-11-16)
Format CD single, cassette single, vinyl single
Recorded October 1991 at Right Track Recording, The Plant Recording Studios
Genre Pop
Length 4:04 (Album Version)
3:33 (Radio Edit)
Label Walt Disney, Epic, Columbia
Writer(s) Alan Menken (music)
Howard Ashman (lyrics)
Producer(s) Walter Afanasieff
Certification Platinum (Japan)
Gold (U.S.)
Céline Dion singles chronology
"L'amour existe encore"
(1991)
"Beauty and the Beast"
(1991)
"Je danse dans ma tête"
(1992)

"Beauty and the Beast" is a song originally from the 1991 Disney animated musical film of the same name. A pop ballad, "Beauty and the Beast" describes the relationship between the film's two main characters, Belle and the Beast. It was written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken to be the film's theme song.

Within the film proper, the song is performed by British American actress and singer Angela Lansbury in her film role as Mrs. Potts. The song was also released as a single by Canadian singer Celine Dion and American singer Peabo Bryson. Lansbury's version was produced by Ashman and Menken, while the single by Dion and Bryson was produced by Walter Afanasieff. Both versions were included on the film's soundtrack, which was released on October 29, 1991, with Dion and Bryson's version as the final track on the album. Additionally, Dion included the song on her eponymous seventeenth studio album.

The song also appears in the stage musical based on the film, which premiered in 1993. On the original cast recording of the musical, the song is performed by Beth Fowler in the role of Mrs. Potts.

"Beauty and the Beast" garnered a mostly positive reception from critics. The song was the recipient of several awards and accolades, including both the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Original Song, and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. As a single, "Beauty and the Beast" performed well commercially, peaking at number nine on the United States' Billboard Hot 100. The song also performed considerably well outside of North America, peaking within the top 40 of Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The international success of the song has often been accredited with establishing Dion's musical career.

The release of "Beauty and the Beast" was accompanied by a music video, which was directed by Dominic Orlando. Both Dion and Bryson have performed the song live several times, including at the 64th Academy Awards in 1992 and the 35th Grammy Awards in 1993.

"Beauty and the Beast" has been covered numerous times by various performers and musicians. Both American pop group Jump5 and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks have recorded pop renditions of the song to accompany the film's platinum and diamond edition re-releases; both versions feature their own music videos.

Background and recording[edit]

In 1987, director Richard Purdum attempted to adapt the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" into an animated feature film.[3] Dissatisfied, Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered that Purdum's version be scrapped and re-written in the style of Broadway musical reminiscent of The Little Mermaid (1989),[4] hiring lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken to write its songs.[5] Ashman and Menken, who had just recently completed scoring The Little Mermaid,[6] had already begun writing songs for their then-upcoming animated project Aladdin (1992).[4] Ashman, who had recently been diagnosed with HIV, was initially reluctant to join the struggling Beauty and the Beast production crew. However, he eventually agreed.[4]

English actress Angela Lansbury provided both the speaking and singing voices of the character Mrs. Potts in the film. Lansbury told The Huffington Post that Ashman and Menken had originally written "Beauty and the Beast" in the style of a rock song. Although Lansbury enjoyed the song, she felt incapable of recording it because of the unfamiliar style in which it was written. She questioned the songwriters' choice in her, asking them, "Are you sure you want me to do this?"[7] Lansbury also felt as though her voice she was not in suitable condition to record "Beauty and the Beast", feeling insecure about having to sustain its several "long, extended notes".[8] Ashman and Menken simply advised Lansbury "to sing the song the way [she] envisioned it".[7] Ultimately, she successfully recorded the song in only one take.[8][9]

Because Beauty and the Beast garnered three separate Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song, producer Don Hahn expressed concern that this would result in a tie. In an attempt to persuade the audience to vote for the film's title song, Disney decided to release "Beauty and the Beast" as a single.[10] Menken considered "Beauty and the Beast" a "turning point" in his career, explaining that it was the first time one of his compositions was re-arranged for such a purpose. "[Music producer] Walter Afanasieff...molded ['Beauty and the Beast'] into something very different than I ever intended," Menken reflected. "Walter made it his own".[6] Because the studio could not afford a "big singer," they hired Canadian singer Celine Dion, who was virtually unknown in the United States at the time, to record a pop version of the song. Fearing Dion would not draw much attention because of her relative obscurity, Disney hired American singer Peabo Bryson, who was a more popular and successful artist at the time, to record the song alongside her in the form of a duet. Ultimately, "Beauty and the Beast" won Best Original Song.[10] The success of the single is often accredited with introducing Dion to a worldwide audience and establishing her career as an international recording artist.[11][12]

Lyrics and composition[edit]

"Beauty and the Beast" is a romantic pop ballad.[13][14] Damon Smith of the Chichester Observer described the song's melody as "haunting,"[13] while Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum referred to Lansbury's rendition as a "lullaby".[15] Commonly identified as the film's theme song,[13][15] the lyrics of "Beauty and the Beast" describe the relationship between the film's two main characters, Belle and the Beast, and specifically addresses how it has managed to transform them, allowing their friendship to grow. One reviewer writing for JoBlo.com wrote that the song serves its purpose in the film by "offer[ing] a sure sign of romance between" Belle and the Beast.[16]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Critical reviews[edit]

As a musical number, "Beauty and the Beast" has garnered widespread critical acclaim from entertainment critics. Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised the song's role in the film, describing it as "a glorious ballad" as well as songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's "biggest triumph".[17] Anthony Quinn of The Independent labeled "Beauty and the Beast" the best of the film's musical numbers. Quinn also praised Lansbury's vocal performance, describing the song as "magnificently sung".[18] Roger Moore from the Chicago Tribune praised Ashman and Menken's songwriting abilities, describing "Beauty and the Beast" a song that "can move you to tears."[19] While praising the film's collection of songs, James Berardinelli of ReelViews described "Beauty and the Beast" as "memorable".[20] PopMatters' Bill Gibron felt that the song was tear-jerking, explaining, "the moment Angela Lansbury’s trite teapot steps up to sing the title song, all dry eye bets are off."[21]

Reception towards the single has also been mostly positive. Arion Berger of Entertainment Weekly wrote positively of Dion's vocal performance, describing "Beauty and the Beast" as "a perfect showcase for what she's best at."[22] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine highlighted it as a stand out track from Dion's eponymous studio album.[23] Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune's Brad Webber was less positive in his review, describing "Beauty and the Beast" as a "sickly sweet, by-the-book ... standard" that "belie[s] [Dion's] talent" by exhibiting "forcefully resonant and multiflavored vocals."[24]

In review of Beauty and the Beast soundtrack Menken of Filmtracks wrote: "The conservatively-rendered pop song was a glimpse at a forthcoming mega-movie song presence for Celine Dion, whose performance of "Beauty and the Beast" made many fans wish that she had been given it as a solo..."[25]

Awards and accolades[edit]

"Beauty and the Beast" has won several awards. The song won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song at the 49th Golden Globe Awards in January 1992.[26] The following March, "Beauty and the Beast" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 64th Academy Awards.[27] The award was posthumous in Ashman's case, who died of AIDS[28] on March 14, 1991,[28][29] eight months before the film's release.[30] Menken acknowledged Ashman in his acceptance speech, on his behalf thanking Lansbury, Dion, Bryson, and Afanasieff for their musical contributions.[27] Representing Ashman was his long-time domestic partner, William "Bill" Lauch, who accepted the award.[27] The following year, "Beauty and the Beast" garnered two wins out of eight[31] nominations at the 35th Grammy Awards, one for Best Song Written for Visual Media,[32] the other for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[32][33][34] Additionally, the song was nominated for Record of the Year[31][35] and Song of the Year,[31][35] but lost both to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven".[36] In Canada, "Beauty and the Beast" won a Juno Award for Single of the Year, beating Dion's own "If You Asked Me To".[37]

The American Film Institute placed "Beauty and the Beast" at number sixty-two on its list of 100 Years...100 Songs.[38] Total Film ranked the song ninth on its list of "50 Greatest Disney Movie Moments".[39]

The critical and commercial success of "Beauty and the Beast" has been credited with establishing the career of Celine Dion in the 1990s.[11] People Magazine wrote of the singer's early career, "the budding star truly goes global with her 1992 duet with Peabo Bryson on 'Beauty and the Beast'– the theme to the Disney film– which wins her both an Oscar and a Grammy."[11] Similarly, Billboard wrote, "it was her duet with Peabo Bryson on the theme song of Disney's Beauty and the Beast that was her true breakthrough."[12] The song was included on Dion's self-titled 17th studio album, which was released on March 31, 1992.

Chart performance[edit]

"Beauty and the Beast" performed considerably well on charts around the world. The song became Dion's second single to land within the top-10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number nine. The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart. In Canada, "Beauty and the Beast" peaked at number one on the RPM Adult Contemporary, while reaching number twenty-three on its Top Singles chart. Outside of North America, the song peaked within the top ten in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, while peaking within the top twenty in Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland.

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Dominic Orlando[40] and follows a simple format. It begins with a closeup of Dion performing the song's opening lines "Tale as old as time/True as it can be" in a large room that resembles a recording studio. Bryson soon enters the room to join Dion, completing song's first verse. Closeups and wideshots of the two singers are infused with scenes from the movie, which are simultaneously being played overhead on a large screen. A large orchestra surrounds Bryson and Dion as they perform their respective roles, alternating between verse and chorus, melody and harmony, until the song ends and the music video fades out.

Live performances[edit]

Angela Lansbury, Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson performed the song live at the 64th Academy Awards in 1992. Dion and Bryson then performed it at the 35th Grammy Awards the following year.

Versions[edit]

During the film, "Beauty and the Beast" is performed by Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, and is heard while Belle and the Beast dance in the castle ballroom. Another version is performed by Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson at the end of the film. This was also the version released on a CD single and is also included on Dion's self-titled album (1992).

Singer Chris Connor also recorded a version of the song on her 1992 album My Funny Valentine, released on Alfa Jazz in Japan.

It was recorded by Beth Fowler for the 1994 cast album of the stage musical version of Beauty and the Beast.

In 1998, a version of the song, called "Beauty and the Bees", was made for the 3D movie It's Tough to be a Bug!'s queue at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney California Adventure Park. A short arrangement of "Beauty and the Beast" can be heard in Kingdom Hearts II video game. The song was included later on Céline Dion's greatest hits albums All the Way... A Decade of Song (1999) and My Love: Essential Collection (2008).

In 2002, the song was covered by the group Jump5 and placed on the album, DisneyMania, they also released a music video for the Platinum Edition DVD release.

In 2005, Julie Andrews selected the song for her album Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney Songs.

Paige O'Hara, who voiced Belle in the movie, also did a cover version for her album "Dream with Me".

In 2009, Namibian singer Nianell and South African singer Dozi recorded a version on their duet covers album "It Takes Two". [41]

In 2010, Jordin Sparks recorded her cover version of the theme song "Beauty and the Beast", and filmed an accompanying music video with director Philip Andelman, to support the 2010 Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD re-release.

On the 2011 album V-Rock Disney, which features visual kei artists covering Disney songs, Ryuichi Kawamura covered this song in Japanese.[42]

On 2012 album Disney - Koe no Oujisama Vol.2, which features various Japanese voice actors covering Disney songs, this song was covered by Tomokazu Seki and Ryoutaro Okiayu

Formats and track listings[edit]

Worldwide CD single

  1. "Beauty and the Beast" – 4:04
  2. "The Beast Lets Belle Go" (Instrumental) – 2:19

Canadian CD maxi single

  1. "Beauty and the Beast" – 4:04
  2. "The Beast Lets Belle Go" (Instrumental) – 2:19
  3. "Des mots qui sonnent" – 3:56
  4. "Délivre-moi" (Live) – 4:19

Official versions[edit]

  1. "Beauty and the Beast" (Radio Edit) – 3:33
  2. "Beauty and the Beast" (Album Version) – 4:04
  3. "Beauty and the Beast" (Instrumental) – 4:07

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 137. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson – Beauty And The Beast". Discogs. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-04-06. "Lyrics By – Howard Ashman ... Music By – Alan Menken" 
  3. ^ Susman, Gary (November 15, 2011). "25 Things You Didn't Know About 'Beauty and the Beast'". Moviefone. Aol Inc. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Taylor, Drew (January 12, 2012). "Review: 'Beauty and the Beast 3D' Is The Same Great Movie, With Some Added 3D Charm". Indiewire. SnagFilms Co. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Smith, Sarah (January 12, 2012). "Still the Belle of the Ball". Disney.com. Disney. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Lammers, Tim (October 5, 2010). "Menken Still Enchanted By Beauty Of 'Beast'". Internet Broadcasting. Internet Broadcasting. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Gostin, Nicki (January 11, 2012). "Angela Lansbury Revisits Disney Classic 'Beauty And The Beast'". The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Sands, Jez (October 25, 2010). "Beauty And The Beast: Paige O’Hara Interview". On the Box. OntheBox.com. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Angela Lansbury Revisits Disney's 'Beauty And The Beast'". Oh No They Didn't. January 12, 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Young, John (February 22, 2012). "Oscars 1992: Producer Don Hahn on how 'Beauty and the Beast' changed animation". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c "Céline Dion Biography". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Celine Dion Biography". Billboard. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c Smith, Damon (March 5, 2012). "FILM REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast". Chichester Observer. Johnston Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Maslin, Janet (November 13, 1991). "Beauty and the Beast (1991)". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Schwarzbaum, Lisa (January 12, 2012). "Beauty and the Beast 3D (2012)". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Review: Beauty and the Beast 3D". JoBlo. JoBlo Media Inc. January 13, 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet (13 November 1991). "Beauty and the Beast (1991)". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Quinn, Anthony (May 4, 2012). "The Independent". Beauty and the Beast 3D (U). Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Moore, Roger (January 12, 2012). "'Beauty and the Beast is a real beaut". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Beauty and the Beast (1991)". ReelViews Movie Reviews. James Berardinelli. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  21. ^ Gibron, Bill (September 27, 2011). "The 10 Greatest Disney Animated Films of All Time". PopMatters. PopMatters.com. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  22. ^ Berger, Arion (April 17, 1992). "Celine Dion (1992)". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  23. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/celine-dion-mw0000071377
  24. ^ Webber, Brian (February 17, 1994). "Celine Dion The Colour of My Love (Epic) (STAR)(STAR...". Chicago Tribune. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  25. ^ http://www.filmtracks.com/titles/beauty_beast.html
  26. ^ "HFFPA – Awards Search". Golden Globe Awards. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c "64th Academy Award Winners | Oscar Legacy". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  28. ^ a b Sporkin, Elizabeth (December 16, 1991). "Sadness at the Heart of a Hit". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  29. ^ Blau, Eleanor (March 15, 1991). "Howard Ashman Is Dead at 40; Writer of 'Little Shop of Horrors'". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  30. ^ Corliss, Richard (January 12, 2012). "Beauty and the Beast in 3-D: Still an Enchantment". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  31. ^ a b c Cromelin, Richard; Dennis Hunt (January 8, 1993). "Clapton Plugs Into Grammy Glory : Nominees: The British guitarist's acoustic 'Unplugged' yields nine nominations. 'Beauty and the Beast' follows with eight.". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  32. ^ a b "Past Winners Search | GRAMMY.com". Grammy.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  33. ^ McEachran, Leigh (January 9, 2012). "Will Celine Dion be even more popular in 2012?". Leigh McEachran. North Stars, Yahoo! Canada Co. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "Celine Dion". Sony Music Entertainment. Sony Music. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  35. ^ a b Rule, Sheila (January 8, 1993). "Clapton Is Nominated For 9 Grammy Awards". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  36. ^ Wilker, Deborah (February 25, 1993). "Clapton Rocks `N` Rolls To Fistful Of Grammys `beauty And The Beast` Waltzes To 5 Trophies". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  37. ^ "Yearly Summary | The JUNO Award". Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  38. ^ "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 SONGS". AFI. American Film Institute. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  39. ^ Winning, Josh (December 1, 2011). "50 Greatest Disney Movie Moments". Total Film. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
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  41. ^ http://www.kalahari.com/Music/It-Takes-Two_p_34516058?gclid=CKeQ-t3v67sCFYUewwodXAsAGw Retrieved 7 January 2014
  42. ^ "Visual kei bands to take on Disney songs for ‘V-ROCK Disney’!". tokyohive.com. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
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  47. ^ Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
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  49. ^ Belgian Singles Chart
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  51. ^ Irish Singles Chart
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  53. ^ New Zealand Singles Chart
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Preceded by
"Life Is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane
Juno Award for Single of the Year
1993
Succeeded by
"Fare Thee Well Love" by The Rankin Family