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Evermore (Beauty and the Beast song)

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"Evermore"
Song by Dan Stevens
from the album Beauty and the Beast: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released March 10, 2017
Format Digital download
Recorded 2016
Length 3:14
Label Walt Disney
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Alan Menken

"Evermore" is a song written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice for the musical fantasy film Beauty and the Beast (2017), a live-action remake of Disney's 1991 animated film of the same name. Originally recorded for the film by English actor Dan Stevens, who performs the song in his starring role as the titular Beast, "Evermore" was first released as a single by American singer Josh Groban on March 3, 2017. Stevens' version became available on March 10, 2017 when the film's soundtrack was released online, while Groban's cover is played during the film's closing credits.

In the animated film, the Beast barely sings because Menken and original Beauty and the Beast lyricist Howard Ashman had not been able to determine a moment in the film during which it would have been appropriate for the character to perform his own song. Initially, Menken had especially wanted the Beast to perform "If I Can't Love Her", a song he and Rice had written for the character to sing in stage adaptation of the animated film, in the remake, but ultimately decided that an entirely new song that establishes that the Beast has finally learned how to love instead would be more suitable due to the film's three-act structure.

"Evermore" is a somber Broadway-influenced power ballad; its lyrics explore themes such as true love, heartbreak, loneliness and sacrifice. In Beauty and the Beast, "Evermore" is performed by the Beast shortly after he releases Belle from the castle so that she may return to the village and aid her father. Despite knowing that freeing her will further jeopardize his chances of becoming human again, the Beast realizes he loves Belle and ultimately sacrifices his own happiness in return for hers. Critical reception towards "Evermore" has been mostly positive, with both film and music critics dubbing it the best of the remake's original songs amidst comparisons to "If I Can't Love Her". Critics frequently recognized Stevens among the cast's best vocalists and agreed that "Evermore" is a strong contender for an Academy Award for a Best Original Song nomination at the 90th Academy Awards, however it was not nominated for the category.

Writing and recording[edit]

Photograph of composer Alan Menken attending a guild event.
Composer Alan Menken wanted to include "If I Can't Love Her", a song he had written for the Beast in the Broadway adaptation, in the film, but was ultimately convinced to write "Evermore" instead.

Director Bill Condon originally intended to include most songs from the Broadway musical adaptation of Beauty and the Beast in the remake. However, Disney ultimately decided to recruit composer Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice to write entirely new songs for the film instead.[1] Original Beauty and the Beast composer Menken reunited with Rice, with whom he had previously collaborated on Disney's animated film Aladdin (1992),[2] to write three new songs for the remake.[3] Rice once again replaced original Beauty and the Beast lyricist Howard Ashman, who had passed away shortly before the animated film's release in 1991,[4] similar to the way in which he replaced the lyricist to aid Menken in writing new material for the 1994 stage adaptation.[5] Menken believes that the songs he and Rice had written for the stage musical would not have translated well to the screen due to structural differences between the two formats.[6]

In the original animated film, the Beast does little singing apart from a brief solo during "Something There" because Menken and Ashman had not been able to agree upon a suitable moment within the film during which the Beast could have performed his own song.[7][1] However, Menken considered it imperative that the character sing a solo in both the stage and live-action adaptations because he believes the Beast is actually the story's protagonist "whose life has changed in the most dramatic way."[1] In the stage production, the Beast performs the ballad "If I Can't Love Her" after he frightens Belle away from the castle, wondering if he will ever be able to love anyone since he struggles to love her.[1] Menken and Condon had deliberated whether or not the song should be re-used in the remake;[8] despite Menken's strong attachment to "If I Can't Love Her",[5] the musical number was ultimately omitted because it had been written specifically to conclude the first act of a Broadway musical.[1] Screenwriter Stephen Chbosky had originally suggested that the character receive a new song to perform some time after he has saved Belle from the wolves.[9] Due to the remake's three-act structure, Menken and Condon concluded that it would be best to replace "If I Can't Love Her" with a song that better depicts the Beast's feelings for Belle after he has finally learned to love her and realizes she is no longer his prisoner, while accepting the grimm reality that releasing her would ultimately decrease his chances of becoming human again.[8] Rice, who co-wrote "If I Can't Love Her" with Menken, further convinced the composer to substitute "If I Can't Love Her" with a more appropriate song, joking, "it would be like writing 'Don't Cry for Me Brazil',"[10] referring to "Don't Cry for Me Argentina", a song he famously wrote for the stage musical Evita.[11]

Originally entitled "For Evermore",[12] "Evermore" was written by composer Menken and lyricist Rice.[13] The last of the three original songs written for the remake, "Evermore" was completed considerably late into production after the filmmakers finally agreed that the Beast should perform his own.[14] Written in Spring 2015 in London, England, Menken quickly composed its melody before Rice contributed lyrics revolving around the Beast releasing Belle.[14] Actor Dan Stevens, who portrays the Beast and performs "Evermore", had little singing experience prior to being cast in the film.[12] Before "Evermore" was written, Condon informed Stevens that he would be singing a new song in his role as Beast.[15] Having not sung professionally since childhood, Stevens was required to retrain his singing voice, the process of which he found challenging.[16] To prepare for the recording, Stevens received extensive vocal coaching from vocal coach Ann-Marie Speed in addition to working closely with Menken.[12][17] Stevens first recorded a "guide track" for "Evermore" before he and Menken revisited the track to modify specific lines and notes.[15] To make the actor sound more "beast-like", sound engineers digitally modified Stevens' voice,[18] which Menken produced himself.[14] Auto-Tune was used to make Stevens' voice sound lower and heavier.[19][20] Menken continued making minor changes to the song well into production.[15] On recording a new song, Stevens said, "the pressure's sort of off — but it's also on — because it doesn't have to sound like it did before, but it should sound good enough to sit alongside the music that's already pretty great."[15] Stevens agreed that the song is "a big, romantic, soaring number" about the Beast lamenting "I've fallen in love with her, and now she's buggered off, woe is me", while "If I Can't Love Her" is "How am I going to fall in love with her?"[12] Replacing "If I Can't Love Her" with "Evermore" helped make the songwriters eligible for an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.[21][22]

Context and use in Beauty and the Beast[edit]

One of at least nine significant ways in which the remake deviates from its source material,[23] "Evermore" is among the film's songs that emphasize the sadness and loneliness of both the Beast and Belle's situations.[24] Occurring approximately two-thirds into the film,[25] the song assumes a role that was originally occupied by the song "If I Can't Love Her" in the Broadway musical,[26] identified by Fred Hawson of ABS-CBN News as "a grand moving solo" during which the Beast sincerely expresses his undying feelings for Belle.[27][28] In Beauty and the Beast, "Evermore" appears as a solo performed by the Beast shortly before "The Mob Song" as the film approaches its dramatic climax.[29][3] After the Beast and Belle (Emma Watson) share a dance in the castle's ballroom to Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) singing "Beauty and the Beast", the couple has a conversation during which the Beast learns how much Belle actually misses her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline).[30] Finally admitting that Belle is no longer his prisoner,[31] the character sings "Evermore" shortly after he releases the heroine from the castle,[32] insisting that she return to her village and protect Maurice from Gaston (Luke Evans).[33] Believing that Belle has been lost to him forever,[34] the Beast is heartbroken by the character's departure and laments his misfortune by performing "Evermore",[4] accepting that releasing his former prisoner makes breaking the enchantress' spell more difficult, even impossible.[23] Serving as a culmination of both the Beast's personal and emotional journeys,[35] Tracy Goldman of The Cornell Daily Sun observed that the song "adds more depth to the character" by "highlighting the changes he goes through throughout the movie."[36]

Similar to "If I Can't Love Her", "Evermore" provides the Beast with "a stronger voice".[37] The song occurs at a pivotal moment in the film during which the Beast bemoans his decision to free Belle,[38] while uncovering both his inner pain and growth as a character as he voices "a sad sense of longing."[39] For the first time, audiences learn exactly how the Beast feels when he allows Belle to rescue Maurice,[40] summarizing his love for her.[41] In the musical sequence, the Beast continues to climb higher up the turret of his castle to watch Belle as she rides away on her horse and gradually disappears into the distance.[30] Staged in a way that resembles a live musical due to Stevens' performance and its cinematography,[40] the orchestra increases and swells as the anguished Beast continues to climb.[42] Menken explained that the character, singing "with a raw emotion",[43] watches Belle leave while thinking to himself "I know what love is now, and it's wonderful, even though I'll never see her again",[44] and "Evermore" captures the Beast's agony as he watches the woman he loves leave him.[45] Citing the song as an example of the film's characters resorting to singing whenever they find that they are not able to speak, Condon described "Evermore" as one of the film's "dramatic high points", proving that the Beast has finally become "worthy of love".[8] For the Beast, the song represents "an ode to his love for Belle and his unending, longing devotion as she rides away from him, possibly forever",[46] serving as "a profound meditation on his own isolation and heartache".[47] According to Menken, the character is "basically singing about how he now knows what love is".[30] The Beast is now shown to be capable of feeling and expressing human emotions,[19] namely heartbreak, loneliness and helplessness,[46] having learned about true love and sacrifice.[48] According to Zoe Nicholson of The Daily Gamecock, "Evermore" "adds humanity not yet seen in a character regarded as savage or spoiled rotten."[49] Walt Disney Studios president of music and soundtracks Mitchell Leib described the scene as the film's "Phantom of the Opera moment."[14] Traditionally in Disney films, heroines are typically assigned "rousing" musical numbers to perform.[50] Screen Rant contributor Kacey Spivey observed that Belle's departure and the scene represents a reversal of the traditional fairy tale trope in which a princess is trapped in a tower.[46] Instead the Beast is confined to his tower, longing for the heroine to return and free him from his enchantment.[46] Brett Nachman compared the scene to Quasimodo performing "Out There" in Disney's animated musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996).[26]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Distinguished for being the remake's "most powerful" original song,[42] "Evermore" has been described as a "big" and "romantic" number by music critics.[17] A "soaring ballad" bolstered by "grand orchestration",[26][51] WTOP's Jason Fraley described "Evermore" as a "haunting song of longing";[3] a "mournful love song" that crescendos into a powerful lament about lost love.[18][52][53] An emotionally delivered power ballad,[54][55] the Belfast Telegraph agreed that the ballad is "a soaring lament of longing".[56] The accompaniment begins with the Beast's "eerie" theme before transitioning into a solo,[28] first emerging from the film's "Rose" theme before taking on its central melody and instrumental bridge.[57] Despite being a miserable "lovesick ballad",[58] the somber tone of which Chris Knight of the National Post likened to songs from the musical Les Misérables,[59] the ballad is a more upbeat offering than its Broadway counterpart, "If I Can't Love Her",[60] "captur[ing] the elaborate aesthetic of musical theatre".[61] However, the track remains one of the more melancholy inclusions on a soundtrack that consists of largely upbeat songs and musical numbers,[62] contributing a sense of emotional depth to the album.[63] Writing for Elle, Alyssa Bailey dubbed the song a "Broadway version of a breakup ballad",[64] which features the lyrics "I let her steal into my melancholy heart/It's more than I can bear,"[65] as "swoon[ed]" by Stevens.[66][67] Musically, the track bears similarities to songs from Disney's animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), which Menken himself also composed,[20] and it has been compared to the work of musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.[39]

"Evermore"'s lamenting melody is paired with lyrics that express loneliness,[68] accompanied by heavy orchestration that swells and loudens as the ballad progresses.[42] Both "brooding" and hopeful at the same time,[57] Jay Jason of Comicbook.com believes that the song's lyrics are inspired by the popular saying "If you love someone, let them go."[69] Stevens' voice quavers with emotion when he sings the phrase "I never needed anybody in my life".[20] Amanda Greever of The Daily Times insists that the song's lyrics will move all listeners to tears.[70] Featuring lyrics that revolve around heartache and heartbreak,[71] "Evermore"'s chorus reads: "Now I know she'll never leave me/Even as she runs away/She will still torment me/Call me, hurt me/Move me, come what may/Wasting in my lonely tower/Waiting by an open door/I'll fool myself, she'll walk right in/And be with me for evermore",[64] which Stevens performs vulnerably.[4] The track also discusses themes such as true love, sacrifice and learning to understand love.[48][72]

Stevens sings within the vocal range of a "deep, resonating baritone" throughout the song,[73][74] which lasts a total duration of three minutes and fourteen seconds;[75] Channel NewsAsia contributor Genevieve Sarah Loh compared Stevens' voice, whose notes are suspended by the instrumentation,[76] to "melted-chocolate",[77] gradually becoming more human-sounding as the song progresses.[78] Belting comfortably,[79] Stevens' voice has been compared to that of Terrence Man, the actor who originated the role of the Beast in the Broadway adaptation and recorded "If I Can't Love Her".[26] Mumbling slightly, Stevens begin the song using a more "guttural" part of his voice in an effort to impersonate the sound of a beast before the song truly progresses into "a soaring love ballad".[80] Some traces of Auto-Tune can be heard in Stevens' performance.[60]

Release and reception[edit]

When Disney released the film's first official trailer in November 2016, Billboard's Taylor Weatherby ranked "Evermore" fifth on the magazine's ranking of "6 Songs We're Most Excited to Hear" from the remake.[71] Stevens' version of "Evermore" was released on March 10, 2017 as a track on the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack.[33] Menken's demo version of the song is included on deluxe editions of the album.[81]

"Evermore" has garnered positive reviews from both film and music critics, becoming "a fan favorite" among the film's new musical additions.[82] Vulture.com's Sarah Caldwell commended the studio's decision to have a new musical number immediately follow "Beauty and the Beast", the song for which the film remains most famous.[83] Writing for Stuff.co.nz, James Croot appreciated "Evermore" for both enhancing the film and finally allowing the Beast an opportunity to sing on-screen.[84] Katlin Risen of The State Journal-Register agreed that the song is "a lovely addition to the story".[85] Andrew Gaug of News-Press NOW called the musical number "a welcome addition" to the film.[86] Citing "Evermore" among the film's musical highlights, the Christian Broadcasting Network reviewed the track as "a wonderful, heartbreaking ballad".[87] Lindsay Bahr of the Associated Press reviewed "Evermore" as "a more fitting ballad" for the character than "If I Can't Love Her",[88] while Her Campus' Justine Steiner described the tune as "infectious".[89] Xposé's Marese O'Sullivan claims to have "adored" the song upon hearing it.[45] Cameron Meier of Orlando Weekly lauded "Evermore" as the film's dramatic highlight, which he nearly rewarded with a standing ovation,[37] while Metro's Sarah Deen dubbed it "an instant classic ".[90]Writing for the British Film Institute, Kate Stables opined that "Evermore" remains "the only standout among the film’s forgettable trio of new songs."[53]

Critics agreed that Stevens performance of the song is a highlight of the film.[91] Praising Stevens for "blow[ing] viewers out of the water" with his voice, the Yakima Herald-Republic's Danielle Niemann hailed the piece as "a simply awe-inspiring piece of music" that "can send chills up viewers' spines, causing them to lose focus on everything but [Stevens]".[76] Jason Fraley of WTOP agreed that Stevens' performance "will give you chills", crowning "Evermore" the "Best of" Beauty and the Beast's original songs.[3] The Salt Lake Tribune film critic Sean P. Means wrote that the track "gives Stevens a nice moment to pour out the tragic hero's broken heart."[4] According to The Toronto Star's Peter Howell, "Evermore" establishes Stevens among "the [cast's] best singers",[92] while La Presse's Sonia Sarfati was moved by the actor's interpretation.[93] Varsity contributor Robert Crawford appreciated Stevens for "add[ing] a welcome, spine-tingling melancholy moment to an otherwise joyous score."[62] CIHR-FM's Shelby Knox concluded that, despite the actor's limited singing experience, Stevens "shows a lot of promise", dubbing his song the film's "stand out".[78] Meanwhile, MTV included the song at number four on their ranking of "All 14 Songs from Disney's Live-action Beauty and the Beast"; author Crystal Bell claims that she would have ranked "Evermore" higher if Stevens' voice hadn't been manipulated to sound deeper than it is.[20] Bell went on to write that the song sounds like "a B side off The Hunchback of Notre Dame", which she insists is "the highest compliment I can give a song."[20] Dismissing the song as inferior to "If I Can't Love Her", ReelViews film critic James Berardinelli described "Evermore" as a "solid" but ultimately unmemorable song.[73] However, Berardinelli agreed that Stevens possesses the "best voice" in the cast, wishing his character "had more opportunities to use it".[73] Angie Han of Mashable admitted that the song "fares a little better" than "How Does a Moment Last Forever" and "Days in the Sun", but ultimately accused it of slowing the film down unnecessarily.[52] Maria Sciullo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette felt that the ballad "lacks the sheer power of 'If I Can't Love Her'" in addition to finding Stevens' performance difficult to evaluate due to his use of Auto-Tune.[60] Zimbio contributor Lani Conway reviewed Stevens' "very deep voice" as "confusing as hell."[94] IGN's Eric Goldman was unimpressed with the track, reviewing "Evermore" as "uninspired and hard to recall" afterward.[95] Criticizing the ballad for being unnecessary and "excessively sentimental", Alexandra August of Comic Book Resources dismissed "Evermore" as a "meandering" and "mopey" tune.[96] The Rolla Daily News critic Dana Barbuto felt that the song is "less soaring than intended",[97] while Katie Walsh, writing for The Sun Chronicle, disparaged "Evermore" as "the perfect bathroom break"; a "snooze-worthy tune does nothing for the already dragging story", encouraging audience members to skip it.[25] In a mixed review, the Daily Bruin's Matthew Fernandez, despite describing "Evermore" as one of two songs "that matchesthe grandeur of the classic Disney works", criticized Steven's performance, which he called "less pleasing to the ear" due to Stevens' impersonation of a beast during early parts of the song, dismissing the attempt "cheesy" and harmful to the actor's performance..[80]

Fred Hawson of ABS-CBN News said "Evermore" was a strong contender for an Academy Award for Best Original Song nomination.[98] The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg said that "Evermore" is the "strongest" prospective Best Original Song nominee from the film,[99] while Paul Sheehan of Golderby said that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would most likely favor "Evermore" over "How Does a Moment Last Forever" and "Days in the Sun".[38] In December 2017, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed that "Evermore" was one among 70 songs that the organization shortlisted for Best Original Song consideration.[100][101] Ultimately, "Evermore" did not earn a nomination in the category (nor did any other original composition from the remake),[102] which some critics have viewed as a snub given the popularity of the song and the film.[22]

Chart performance[edit]

Although Stevens' version of the song was never released as a single, its popularity combined with that of the film and its related soundtrack resulted in the track charting on several charts due to digital download sales.[103] "Evermore" peaked at number 18 and 46 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles and US Digital Songs charts, respectively, on April 8, 2017, spending one week on both charts.[103]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[104] 18
US Digital Songs (Billboard)[105] 46

Josh Groban version[edit]

"Evermore"
Evermore, Josh Groban single cover.jpg
Single by Josh Groban
from the album Beauty and the Beast: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released March 3, 2017
Format Digital download
Recorded January 2017
Genre Operatic pop
Length 3:09
Label Walt Disney
Songwriter(s)
  • Alan Menken
  • Tim Rice
Producer(s) Martin Nessi

Following the release of Ariana Grande and John Legend's pop rendition of "Beauty and the Beast", Leib asked the studio for permission to release another one of Beauty and the Beast's original songs as a single ahead of the film's March 17, 2017 release date.[14] After eliminating "Days in the Sun" and confirming that Canadian singer Celine Dion would not be available to promote her cover of "How Does a Moment Last Forever", the studio ultimately decided to release "Evermore".[14] Menken and Condon had been discussing which contemporary recording artist would be capable of delivering a song as vocally "demanding" as "Evermore".[106] After briefly considering Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, Leib suggested American singer Josh Groban because, in his opinion, the singer's "voice is a natural fit for this showstopper of a composition."[107] Having already known Groban personally, Menken texted the singer who immediately confirmed his interest.[14] Groban recorded the song shortly after the studio made final arrangements with his manager.[14]

On January 26, 2017, Disney announced that Groban had recorded a cover of "Evermore" – still entitled "For Evermore", at the time – and revealed that his version would be included on the remake's soundtrack in addition to being played during the film's end credits.[108] Groban released a statement, saying: "I am honored to sing this beautiful new song by two of my absolute favorites, Alan Menken and Tim Rice. Beauty and the Beast has been with me since my childhood and to have a musical connection to this new film makes me so happy."[109] The announcement coincided with the studio's release of a new promotional poster for the film,[106] which Disney allowed the singer to premiere using his official Twitter account.[110] A 30-second sample of the track was uploaded to SoundCloud on February 14, 2017,[111] which Groban also shared on Twitter.[112] Groban's version was released as the second single from Beauty and the Beast's soundtrack on March 3, 2017,[64] several days before the album, on which Stevens' original rendition appears, was released.[113][114] Groban promoted the song with a performance on Good Morning America on March 14, 2017.[115][116] The occasion marked both the song's first televised performance,[13] as well as the first time an original song from the remake was performed live on television.[14]

Musically, Groban's single remains a "Broadway-like" operatic pop ballad that features the same lyrics, beginning "I was the one who had it all".[117][113] Written in the key of A major at moderately slow tempo of 96 beats per minute,[118] Groban's three-minutes-and-nine-seconds rendition[119] evokes a "sweeping, operatic quality",[112] featuring lyrics revolving about pining for true love.[120] At the same time, the single resembles contemporary Disney ballads such as Sarah McLachlan's "When She Loved Me" and Phil Collins' "You'll Be In My Heart" from the animated films Toy Story 2 and Tarzan, both of which were released in 1999, respectively.[121] According to Golderby's Paul Sheehan, the track is Groban's "heartbreaking rendition of" a "plaintive plea for love."[38] The song garnered positive reviews from critics that distinguished it from the mild controversies that had been surrounding the film at the time of its release.[120] Devan Coggan of Entertainment Weekly described the song as a "gorgeous ballad",[113] while Den of Geek praised Groban's interpretation as "immeasurable".[114] According to Elle writer Alyssa Bailey, Groban's emotional performance will cause listeners to "feel the Beast's feels".[64] Dubbing the track "one of the highlights of the album", the Daily Bruin's Matthew Fernandez reviewed the ballad as "a grand uplifting ballad centered on Groban's rich voice".[80] Vulture.com's Sarah Caldwell admitted to listening to both Groban and Stevens' versions of the song back-to-back with "zero ounces of shame."[83] 34th Street Magazine contributor Haley Weiss preferred Groban's version to Stevens' original, calling it "breathtaking and downright lovely to listen to" while dismissing the film version as "downright mediocre in comparison."[122] Weiss questioned why Disney hadn't cast Groban as the Beast instead of Stevens due to the former's acting and musical theatre background.[122]

References[edit]

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