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: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
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: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Celine Dion
Released November 1991 (1991-11)
Format CD single, cassette single, vinyl single
Recorded October 1991 at Right Track Recording, The Plant Recording Studios
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
Celine Dion singles chronology
"L'amour existe encore"
"Beauty and the Beast"
"Je danse dans ma tête"
Music video
"Beauty and the Beast" on YouTube

"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 second English-language 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 (She had sang before for a Disney film in Bedknobs and Broomsticks) . 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] It was released in November 1991 in the United States and Canada, and in mid-1992 in the rest of the world. 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 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 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] In 1993, "Beauty and the Beast" also won an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award and ASCAP Pop Award for most performed song in the United States.[38][39]

The American Film Institute placed "Beauty and the Beast" at number sixty-two on its list of 100 Years...100 Songs.[40] Total Film ranked the song ninth on its list of "50 Greatest Disney Movie Moments".[41]

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 second English-language 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 two.[42] 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, Netherlands and Ireland.

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Dominic Orlando[43] 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. The video was included in the Platinum Edition and in the Diamond Edition of the film of the same name.

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.


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 Celine 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.

Greek singer Nana Mouskouri recorded a version of the song with Harry Belafonte on her 1993 album "Hollywood". This version was also included on her 2010 album "As Time Goes By".

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 Celine 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".[44]

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.[45]

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]

  • 3", 7", 12", cassette, CD single (World)
  1. "Beauty and the Beast" – 3:57
  2. "The Beast Lets Belle Go" (Instrumental) – 2:19
  • CD maxi single (Canada)
  1. "Beauty and the Beast" – 3:57
  2. "The Beast Lets Belle Go" (Instrumental) – 2:19
  3. "Des mots qui sonnent" – 3:56
  4. "Délivre-moi" (Live) – 4:19
  • Promotional CD single (US)
  1. "Beauty and the Beast" (Radio Edit) – 3:30


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Japan (RIAJ)[60] Platinum 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[61] Gold 784,000[62]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


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