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Beauty and the Beast (Disney song)

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"Beauty and the Beast"
File:Beauty and the Beast (Disney song).jpg
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
Genre
Length 4:04
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Walter Afanasieff

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Celine Dion singles chronology
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"L'amour existe encore"
(1991)
"Beauty and the Beast"
(1991)
"Je danse dans ma tête"
(1992)
Music video
"Beauty and the Beast" on YouTube

"Beauty and the Beast" is a song written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken for Walt Disney Pictures’ 30th animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). The film's theme song, the Broadway and rock-inspired ballad was originally recorded by English actress Angela Lansbury as the voice of the character Mrs. Potts, and essentially conveys the relationship between main characters Belle and the Beast. The song was later recorded as a pop duet by Canadian singer Celine Dion and American singer Peabo Bryson, and released as the only single from the film's soundtrack album on November 16, 1991.

Despite her experience in theatre and music, Lansbury was initially hesitant to record "Beauty and the Beast" because she felt that it did not suit her singing voice well, but ultimately recorded it in one take. To further promote the film, Disney decided to release “Beauty and the Beast” as a single, and first recruited solely Dion to record a pop version of it. However, fearing that the relatively unknown Canadian singer would not draw a large enough audience from the United States demographic on her own, the studio subsequently hired Bryson to serve as her duet partner. Dion was also unwilling to sing the song at first because she had just recently been fired from recording the theme of An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. First heard during the film's end credits, the single was produced by Walter Afanasieff and additionally included on Dion's second English-language studio album. A music video, directed by Dominic Orlando, was also released.

Both the original and commercial versions of the song were successful. While Lansbury's performance was lauded by film critics and garnered both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, the Dion-Bryson version, which was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, became an international success on the pop and adult contemporary charts, as well as one of Dion’s earliest hits in the United States when it peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition to returning Disney songs to pop chart dominance, the success of "Beauty and the Beast" also established Dion as a bankable recording artist during the 1990s.

Beauty and the Beast was one of the first animated films to use computer-generated imagery; the film's famous "ballroom sequence," in which Belle and the Beast dance to the film's title song, has been praised for its innovative use of computer-animated technology and paving the way for the successful computer-animated films of Pixar Animation Studios, specifically Toy Story (1995), the first fully-computer-animated film. Considered one of Disney's best songs, "Beauty and the Beast" has since been covered by several artists, among them actress Julie Andrews and singer Jordin Sparks. In 2004, the American Film Institute recognized it as one of the greatest songs in film history, ranking it at number 62.

Writing and recording

"Beauty and the Beast" was written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken. Having envisioned the song as "the height of simplicity."[1] Menken told The Straits Times that the song was specifically influenced by Broadway music.[2] Out of all the songs he has written, Menken believes that he ultimately spent the most time composing "Beauty and the Beast".[1] The song was first recorded by English actress Angela Lansbury, who provides both the speaking and singing voices of the character Mrs. Potts. Although herself a seasoned theatre actress and singer who had previously done her own singing for Disney in the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971),[3] Lansbury, who was accustomed to performing more uptempo songs,[4] was hesitant to record "Beauty and the Beast" because she felt intimidated by the unfamiliar style in which it was written, which she considered rock music.[5] Lansbury also felt that her aging singing voice was not particularly strong enough to record "Beauty and the Beast",[6] specifically expressing concern about sustaining its "long, extended notes."[7] Doubting the songwriters' choice in her,[8] Lansbury asked them, "Are you sure you want me to do this?" and suggested that they recruit someone else, to which they responded that she simply "sing the song the way [she] envisioned it."[5]
File:Angela Lansbury.jpg
At first English actress Angela Lansbury was hesitant to record "Beauty and the Beast" because it had been written in a style that was unfamiliar to her; she ultimately recorded the song in one take.
"Beauty and the Beast" was recorded in a studio in New York with a live orchestra because the songwriters "preferred to record a live performance rather than recording the singer and the instrumental music separately."[9] However, on the day of Lansbury's recording session, the actress' flight was delayed due to a bomb threat, forcing an emergency landing in Las Vegas.[10] Left unaware of her whereabouts, the filmmakers had considered rescheduling the session until Lansbury finally telephoned the studio upon arriving safely in New York, reassuring them that she was on her way.[9] At the behest of one of the directors, Lansbury recorded a demo of the song for them to use as "back up if nothing else worked."[3][11] Ultimately, Lansbury's version, which was recorded in only one take, wound up being the one used in the final film.[12] Producer Don Hahn recalled that the actress simply "went into the booth and sang 'Beauty and the Beast' from beginning to end and just nailed it. We picked up a couple of lines here and there, but essentially that one take is what we used for the movie."[13]

Ashman and Menken had intentionally written the song so that it could potentially "have a life outside" of Beauty and the Beast.[1] "Beauty and the Beast" marked the first time that a song from a Disney animated film would be arranged into a pop version of itself and played over its end credits.[14] Menken referred to this feat as a "turning point" in his musical career because it was the first time that one of his songs was professionally rearranged for such a purpose. Producer Walter Afanasieff was then hired to produce the pop version of the song; Menken explained that Afanasieff "molded it into something very different than I ever intended," appreciating the fact that the producer "made it his own."[15] To the filmmakers' surprise, Beauty and the Beast received three separate Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song. Concerned that this would divide votes and result in a draw, Disney decided to promote the film's title song as opposed to its fellow nominees "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" by releasing "Beauty and the Beast" as a single.[16] Because the studio was unable afford a "big singer" at the time, Disney recruited Canadian singer Celine Dion. Although Dion had amassed success throughout Canada, she was relatively unknown to the American audience at the time, thus the studio feared that she would fail to make much of an impact in the United States on her own and consequently hired American singer Peabo Bryson, who was a more prominent artist at the time, to record the song with her as a duet.[6]

Disney contacted Dion's manager René Angélil while the two were touring in England about having the singer record "Beauty and the Beast".[17] Having enjoyed Dion's previous work, Menken personally sent her a letter of approval.[18] At first Dion was hesitant to commit due to prior unsuccessful experiences with the film industry; she had just recently lost the opportunity to sing "Dreams to Dream" from the film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) to American singer Linda Ronstadt, the latter of whom was producer Steven Spielberg's first choice, and only signed on to record "Dreams to Dream" after hearing Dion sing it first. Devastated after being abruptly removed from the project, it took some steady convincing on Angelil's part to get his client to record "Beauty and the Beast", by which she was eventually moved enough to perform.[17] The Dion-Bryson version of "Beauty and the Beast" was released on November 16, 1991 as the only single from the film's soundtrack, on which it appears alongside Lansbury's original.[19]

Context and "ballroom sequence"

The scene in Beauty and the Beast that accompanies the song is the film's most romantic as it is "the moment in the film when Belle and the Beast establish their love for one another."[20] Set in the large, elegant ballroom of the Beast's castle, "Beauty and the Beast" is performed by Mrs. Potts, an anthropomorphic teapot, midway through the film.The Chicago Tribune's Dave Kehr identified it as the scene in which "the Beauty and the Beast first fall in love as they dance,"[21] while Entertainment Weekly‍ '​s Lisa Schwarzbaum referred to it as "the romantic ballroom centerpiece that brings Beauty and her Beast together."[22] Writing for The Globe and Mail, Jennie Punter received it as the scene in which "romance finally blossoms."[23] Ellison Estefan of Estefan Films believes that the song "adds another dimension to the characters as they continue to fall deeply in love with each other."[24] Analyzing the scene's significance in the context of the film, Steven D. Greydanus of Decent Films Guide observed, "The difficulty with which Belle and the Beast hesitantly slowly open up to one another, ideally realized in ... the Oscar-winning title number, does credit both to the emotional depths of the fairy tale and the strange mystery and magic of courtship." Greydanus continued to write that "Both are strong-willed and wary, and if the Beast must learn to conquer his monstrous nature, Belle must learn to look beyond appearances and trust someone who has far more power than she does."[25] Similarly explaining the song's alignment within the story, director Kirk Wise elaborated, "There's a great little suite of music now that starts with 'Something There,' the song that [Belle and the Beast] sing while they're having a little snowball fight, which segues into 'Human Again' which gives the object perspective on what they hope for when [the characters] fall in love and that transitions into 'Beauty and the Beast' the ballad, which is the culmination of their relationship."[26] Meanwhile, producer Don Han pegged the scene as "the bonding moment of the film when the two main characters finally get together."[27]
File:Beauty and the Beast ballroom sequence.ogv
Disney animator James Baxter synced his 2D animation of the dancing pair to the perspective changes in the computer-generated environment in this Beauty and the Beast ballroom sequence, which was principally designed by Scott F. Johnston.[28]

"An early example" of "a pronounced use of height and of vertical movement in sets and settings, in virtual camera movement ... and in the actions of characters" according to Sheldon Hall's Epics, Spectacles and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History,[29] Beauty and the Beast was one of the first feature-length animated films to employ computer-generated imagery,[30][31][32] which is featured prominently throughout the song's "elaborate" sequence.[33] First rendered as a cube,[20] the ballroom was "designed as a production set on a computer, becoming the first computer-generated color background that was both animated and fully dimensional." Meanwhile, the film's hand-drawn scenes are notably "flat in comparison," according to Mehruss Jon Ahi of Interiors.[20] Unlike Disney's previous CGI experiments, Beauty and the Beast's ballroom is much more detailed[34] and required animators to work "exclusively within a computer environment to digitally compose, animate and color the scene."[35] According to CGI artistic supervisor Jim Hillin, the "sequence features the first computer-generated color background to be both animated and fully dimensional," allowing for theatrical lighting and "sweeping" perspectives, which introduced live action to animation.[27] Meanwhile, a "virtual camera" allowed them to create the illusion of tracking, panning and zooming[35] that "establish[es] the mood and helps us to experience what the characters themselves are feeling."[27] In his book Basics Animation 02: Digital Animation, author Andrew Chong wrote that "The sweeping camera move with a constantly shifting perspective during ballroom sequence was a composition of traditionally drawn elements for the characters with digitally animated scenery."[36] Several computer animators, layout artists, art directors and background artists combined their efforts to achieve the end results. The ballroom's dimensions read, "72-foot ceilings, a length of 184 feet from door to door, and a width of 126 feet. There are 28 wall window sections around the room and a dome that is 86 feet by 61 feet," while "The mural in the dome was hand painted and then texture-mapped into the background with the help of a computer." Each element was carefully constructed a section at a time.[37] Interiors summarized the scene and cinematography in detail:[20]

Because the two characters are so closely "interconnected" during the scene, both Belle and the Beast were animated solely by James Baxter, who was originally only Belle's supervising animator. In preparation, Baxter studied ballet dancers and took ballet lessons.[27] Created by Pixar, a software named CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) allowed the animators to paint Belle and the Beast via computers as opposed to the more conventional method of painting characters by hand.[38] According to Chong, CAPS "replaced many of the traditional roles. Rather than physical trace and paint, pencil animation on paper was scanned so that the lines could be 'inked' digitally. Color was then applied to the file rather than painted on a cel."[36] Keeping with the room's blue and gold color palette, "Belle’s gold dress compliments the Beast’s gold trim on his attire and gold is also the primary color of the ballroom itself. The Beast wears royal blue, which match his eyes, the evening sky, the curtains that drape the columns in the ballroom, and even the tiles on the floor, which are integrated with gold," as observed by Interior.[20] The entire sequence took several months to complete, much of which was spent syncing the traditionally animated couple with their three-dimensional environment,[39] which would have otherwise been virtually impossible had the filmmakers chosen a more traditional route.[36][40] However, because the computer-animated medium was so unfamiliar at the time, the filmmakers had considered having Belle and the Beast dance under a single spotlight under the cover of complete darkness had the project been unsuccessful.[20]
In their dance together, Belle familiarizes the Beast with the waltz and as soon he feels comfortable, he gracefully moves her across the floor. In this instance, Belle and the Beast move toward the camera, as we pan up and into the 3D chandelier. In the next shot, the camera slowly drops from the ceiling as we once again move alongside the 3D chandelier. This adds depth to the scene, as the chandelier is placed at the forefront of the image and Belle and the Beast are in the distance. This shot continues as we move down below and gracefully move around them. The Beast then sways Belle around and near the camera, once again providing us with an illusion that a camera is following these characters around in an actual ballroom. In a wide shot of Belle and the Beast dancing, the camera begins dollying back as Mrs. Potts and Chip appear in the frame. These beautiful compositions and camera movements show us how space functions within an animated feature film.
—Mehruss Jon Ahi of Interiors
Describing the scene as "an early experiment in computer animation," Josh Larsen of Larsen on Film observed that the ballroom sequence features "the camera swooping in and around to provide an expansive sense of space that 3-D still isn’t able to capture."[41] Writing for Combustible Celluloid, Jeffrey M. Anderson believes that "The animators understood that the new technology couldn't be used to represent organic beings, so they simply used it for backgrounds; i.e. the swirling, spinning ballroom during the 'Beauty and the Beast' dance number."[42] The Los Angeles Times film critic Charles Solomon observed that Belle is "liveliest and prettiest" when the character "waltzes with Beast in his marble ballroom."[43]

Music and lyrics

File:Beauty and the Beast (Angela Lansbury).ogg
The bridge and verse of the film version, featuring Angela Lansbury.

According to the song's official sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Walt Disney Music Publishing, the original "entrancing"[44] film version of "Beauty and the Beast" performed by Angela Lansbury, which the website calls a "Lyrically, moderately slow ballad" with Broadway influences, was written in the key of G-flat major at a tempo of 84 beats per minute.[45] The song spans two minutes and forty-six seconds in length.[19] An "eloquent simpl[e]"[46] rock-influenced[5] pop song with a "calm,"[47] "sweet" and "lilting" melody,[48] Stephen Whitty of NJ.com pegged "Beauty and the Beast" as a "Broadway ballad."[49] Roger Ebert described the song's melody as "haunting,"[50] while Entertainment Weekly‍ '​s Lisa Schwarzbaum referred to it as a "lullaby"[22] – "soulful and moving in a way that defies all cynicism."[42] The Disney Song Encyclopedia author Thomas S. Hischak described Menken's music as "flowing."[44] BuzzFeed's Aylin Zafar received the song as "Tender and warm."[51] Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Gene Siskel described Lansbury's voice, which spans two octaves from of B♭3 to E♭5 on the recording,[45] as "richly textured."[52] On the song's instrumentation, which was provided by a live orchestra,[10] Spin writer Andrew Unterberger wrote that "Beauty and the Beast" incorporates "big chord changes and with no shortage off (sic) woodwinds."[53] While describing the song as "a lullaby crooned by a loving grandmother," GamesRadar observed that "Beauty and the Beast" features a key change during which "the music swells, and then the orchestra subsides to leave just trembling violins."[54] Describing the song as "soaring," TV Guide compared "Beauty and the Beast" to "Shall We Dance" from the musical The King and I.[55]

The film's theme song,[56] the lyrics of "Beauty and the Beast" essentially "captur[es] the essence of the film"[57] by describing the relationship between the film's two main characters, Belle and the Beast, and specifically addresses the ways in which the two have changed each other for the better. Beginning with Lansbury singing the lyrics "Tale as old as time, true as it can be,"[45] JoBlo.com wrote that the song "offers a sure sign of romance between the Beauty and her Beast."[58] R.L. Shaffer of IGN identified "Beauty and the Beast" as a "tear-jerking poetic ballad."[59] Meanwhile, Songfacts believes that "The message of the song is that a couple can be 'as old as time' no matter how different they are."[60] According to the official website of lyricist Howard Ashman, "Beauty and the Beast" details the way in which "Belle tames the beast and finds the happy ending she has dreamed about,"[61] while author Thomas S. Hischak scribed in The Disney Song Encyclopedia that "the simple but affecting" lyrics are "about how two tentative hearts are united in love."[44] Featuring the lyrics "Barely even friends, then somebody bends, unexpectedly,"[62] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune believes that the piece "makes the case for all lovers to look past their partners' faults and into their hearts."[52]

File:Beauty and the Beast (Celine & Peabo).ogg
The intro to the single version, featuring Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.

Transposed to the higher key of F major at a "moderately slow" tempo of 72 beats per minute,[63] the Dion-Bryson version of "Beauty and the Beast" is, according to Filmtracks.com, a "conservatively-rendered pop song."[64] The song also incorporates adult contemporary influences.[63][65] According to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Webber, Dion and Bryson's vocals are "resonant and multiflavored."[66] The song's "jazzy" instrumentation relies on heavy drums that contrast with the rest of the soundtrack.[67] In this arrangement, the lyrics "Tale as old as time" are preceded by Dion singing "Ooh."[63] Longer than the original, the pop version lasts four minutes and three seconds.[68]

Reception

Critical response

The original film version of "Beauty and the Beast" performed by Lansbury has garnered widespread acclaim from both film and music critics. Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised "Beauty and the Beast", describing it as "a glorious ballad" while dubbing it Ashman and Menken's "biggest triumph."[69] Beliefnet called the song "stirring,"[70] while Hal Hinson of The Washington Post ranked it among the film's best.[71] Roger Moore of the Chicago Tribune referred to "Beauty and the Beast" as a song that "can move you to tears,"[72] while James Berardinelli of ReelViews called it "memorable."[73] Anthony Quinn of The Independent highlighted "Beauty and the Beast" as the film's best song. Quinn went on to praise Lansbury's performance, describing it as "magnificently sung,"[74] while the Deseret News‍ '​ Chris Hicks described it as "beautiful."[75] Slant Magazine‍ '​s Jaime N. Christley wrote that Lansbury "delivers the film's title tune, gooey treacle that it is, like nobody's business."[76] Describing the song as "beautiful," the Chicago Tribune‍ '​s Gene Siskel wrote that "Beauty and the Beast" is "performed poignantly by the richly textured voice of Angela Lansbury."[52] Similarly, PopMatters' Bill Gibron penned, "the moment Angela Lansbury’s trite teapot steps up to sing the title song, all dry eye bets are off."[77] The New York Post‍ '​s Lou Lumenick wrote that "Beauty and the Beast" was "unforgettably delivered by Angela Lansbury."[78] Aylin Zafar of BuzzFeed felt that the original version of the song was superior to the single, penning, "Though the commercial pop version of 'Beauty and the Beast,' sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, is great, the film version — performed by Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts — is even better. Tender and warm ... it tugs at all the right heartstrings to get your eyes a little misty."[51] Simon Brew of Den of Geek specifically liked the lyrics "bittersweet and strange, finding you can change," while describing the song as "superb."[79]

The Dion-Bryson single has also been generally well-received, if only slightly less enthusiastically. Filmtracks.com wrote that Dion's performance "made many fans wish that she had been given it as a solo."[64] Arion Berger of Entertainment Weekly praised Dion's performance, describing "Beauty and the Beast" as "a perfect showcase for what she's best at."[80] Describing the duet as "extremely effective," Sputnikmusic's Irving Tan extolled the rendition, writing, "As the entirety of the film's poignancy is hinged on the chemistry between Bryson and Dion, having the pair pull their assignment off beautifully is ultimately a fantastic conclusion to events."[81] Jeff Benjamin of Fuse described the song as "a fantastic duet."[82] On the contrary, the Chicago Tribune's Brad Webber disliked the song, panning it as a "sickly sweet, by-the-book ... standard" that "belie[s] [Dion's] talent" by exhibiting "forcefully resonant and multiflavored vocals."[66] While lauding the film version, Spin‍ '​s Andrew Unterberger panned the single as "unbearably cloying."[53]

Additionally, the "ballroom sequence" in which Belle and the Beast dance to "Beauty and the Beast" has been universally praised for its innovative use of CGI,[83] with Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly dubbing it the film's "centerpiece."[22] Writing for The Seattle Times, Candice Russel cited the scene as an "irresistible highlight."[84] The Globe and Mail‍ '​s Jennie Punter called it "glorious."[23] David Parkinson of Radio Times wrote that the film's computer-generated imagery is "seen to best advantage during the ballroom ... sequences."[85] The Chicago Tribune's Dave Kehr praised both layout supervisor Lisa Keene and computer animator Jim Hillin's combined efforts on the sequence, writing, "The single most impressive setting in the film, the enchanted ballroom where the Beauty and the Beast first fall in love as they dance ... yields dazzlingly deep and precise perspectives."[21] When the film was re-released in 3D in January 2012, Annlee Ellingson of Paste appreciated the scene's treatment, describing it as "positively vertiginous."[86] Mike Scott of The Times-Picayune extolled it as a "gorgeous, and memorable" scene that "still stands out as one of the film's more dazzling."[87] Also receptive, Joanna Berry of The National wrote that "the ballroom sequence now seems to sparkle even more."[88] While Boxoffice‍ '​s Todd Gilchrist's response towards the film's 3D transformation was mixed, he admitted that "the times when the animators use computer animation to render the backgrounds" such as during "the dance sequence between Belle and Beast ... are effective, immersive and maybe even memorable 3D."[89] James Berardinelli of ReelViews had originally reviewed the scene as "the best scene in the movie" because the camera is "frequently on the move, soaring and zooming as it circles characters and imitates tracking shots," he felt that the conversion "diminishes the romance and emotion of the ballroom dance."[73]

Awards and recognition

"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.[90] The following March, "Beauty and the Beast" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 64th Academy Awards.[91] The award was posthumous in Ashman's case, who died of AIDS on March 14, 1991,[92][93] eight months before the film's release.[94] Menken acknowledged Ashman in his acceptance speech, thanking Lansbury, Dion, Bryson, and Afanasieff for their musical contributions.[91] Representing Ashman was his long-time domestic partner, William "Bill" Lauch, who accepted the award.[91] The following year, "Beauty and the Beast" garnered two wins out of eight[95] nominations at the 35th Grammy Awards, one for Best Song Written for Visual Media,[96] the other for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[96][97][98] Additionally, the song was nominated for Record of the Year[95][99] and Song of the Year,[95][99] but lost both to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven".[100] In Canada, "Beauty and the Beast" won a Juno Award for Single of the Year, beating Dion's own "If You Asked Me To".[101] 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.[102][103]

The American Film Institute placed "Beauty and the Beast" at number sixty-two on its list of 100 Years...100 Songs.[104]

When BuzzFeed compiled "The Definitive Ranking Of The 102 Best Animated Disney Songs" list, "Beauty and the Beast" was ranked fourth.[51] Similarly, "Beauty and the Beast" is the fourth greatest Disney song, according to M.[62] On the website's list of the "Top 25 Disney Songs", IGN ranked "Beauty and the Beast" 22nd.[8] "Beauty and the Beast" finished 14th on GamesRadar's "30 best Disney songs in history" ranking.[54] Total Film ranked the song ninth on its list of "50 Greatest Disney Movie Moments".[105] Spin ranked the song 30th on the magazine's list of "Every Oscar Winner for Best Original Song, Ranked".[53] On its list of the "11 Highest-Charting Songs From Disney Movies," Nicole James of Fuse wrote that "The title track from 1992's Beauty and the Beast cracked the Top 10, going to No. 9 on the charts (but No. 1 in our hearts)."[106] The same website included the Dion-Bryson version on a "Top 20 Disney Songs by Pop Stars" list.[82]

Chart performance

"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.[107] 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. The song sold over a million copies worldwide.[108]

Music video

Directed by Dominic Orlando,[109] 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

At the 1992 Oscars, Angela Lansbury, Celine Dion, and Peabo Bryson sang a composite of both versions from the film, backed by dancers dressed as Belle and the Beast.[110] Celine and Peabo also duetted at the Grammys,[111] World Music Awards,[112] AMA's,[113][114] the Wogan show,[115] The Tonight Show,[116] and Top of the Pops[117] later that year. The duo reunited in 1996 to perform the song for the television special Oprah in Disneyland.[118]

Each of the 3 respective artists have performed the song in concerts later in their careers, outside the context of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. For example, Lansbury sang it at the 2002 Christmas concert with Mormon Tabernacle Choir.[119] Similarly, Dion and Bryson duetted at the JT Super Producers 94 tribute concert to David Foster,[120] and as part of Dion's 1994-5 The Colour of My Love Tour,[121] though they have also often sung with different duet partners. Dion has sung with Tommy Körberg,[122] Brian McKnight,[123] Terry Bradford,[124] Maurice Davis,[125] Barnev Valsaint,[126] and Rene Froger[127] among others; Peabo has sung with Coko[128] and Regine Velasquez.[129]

Impact and legacy

"Beauty and the Beast" is believed to have been responsible for the overall success of the film.[130] Considered to be among the most romantic songs ever written,[24] Andrew Unterberger of Spin believes that "Beauty and the Beast" "set the template for the quivering love theme in ’90s Disney movies."[53] "Beauty and the Beast" was the first song from a Disney animated film to undergo a complete pop transformation of itself for commercial reasons.[14] After the success of Disney's The Little Mermaid revived the Disney musical in 1989,[131] Gary Trust of Billboard determined that "Once Beauty and the Beast followed in 1991, with Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson taking its theme into the Billboard Hot 100's top 10, Disney was dominating charts like never before."[132] Notably, the single ended a thirty year-long absence of Disney chart hits between the 1960s and 1990s, and inspired several hit singles to follow since then; popular artists such as Elton John, Vanessa Williams, Michael Bolton, Christina Aguilera, and Phil Collins each experienced varying degrees of success with pop renditions of Disney songs throughout the decade.[132] Writing for Sputnikmusic, Irving Tan wrote that "Although the number's 1992 Academy Award for Best Original Song is something of an old chestnut at this point, it still bears some worth repeating - mainly as it is very likely the most famous of all the feature theme songs ever commissioned by Walt Disney Studios."[81]

File:Celine Dion Concert Singing Taking Chances 2008.jpg
Virtually unknown prior to its release, the success of "Beauty and the Beast" is responsible establishing the career of Canadian singer Celine Dion.

The Beauty and the Beast: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is best remembered for the Dion-Bryson version of the song.[133] Prior to the release of "Beauty and the Beast", Quebec-born Dion's fame had been mostly limited to her native Canada,[16] Japan and some parts of Europe.[134] The song is believed to have introduced Dion to the United States market, ultimately establishing the singer as an international recording artist during the 1990s.[135] Before recording "Beauty and the Beast", Dion had been attached to the film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West to record its theme "Dreams to Dream", from which she was eventually fired in favor of singer Linda Ronstadt. Released the same year, Dion's "Beauty and the Beast" ultimately wound up eclipsing the success of Ronstadt's song.[17] The song's success ultimately earned Dion a $10 million five-album recording contract with Sony Music International.[18] Biography.com refers to "Beauty and the Beast" as Dion's "real breakthrough into pop music stardom."[136] According to Lifetime, the song "cemented her international success,"[137] while People wrote that the singer went "global with her 1992 duet with Peabo Bryson on 'Beauty and the Beast'."[138] "Beauty and the Beast" was included on Dion's 1992 self-titled album.[139] American musician Prince was so moved by Dion's performance on "Beauty and the Beast" that he wrote a song for her to include on the album, entitled "With This Tear".[18] Only her second English album, Celine Dion went on to become the singer's first gold album, having sold over 12 million copies internationally.[136] According to Filmtracks.com, "Beauty and the Beast" offered "a glimpse at a forthcoming mega-movie song presence for Celine Dion,"[64] who has since gone on to record the theme songs of several blockbuster films, notably "When I Fall in Love" from Sleepless in Seattle (1993), "Because You Loved Me" from Up Close & Personal (1996) and, most famously, "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic (1997).[134] "Beauty and the Beast" has since been included on several of Dion's greatest hits albums.[65][140]

According to IGN, the ballroom sequence remains Beauty and the Beast's "most recognizable scene,"[40] while Rick DeMott of Animation World Network referred to it as "groundbreaking."[141] On the ballroom sequence's pioneering use of CGI, Annie Ellingson of Paste wrote that Beauty and the Beast was "innovative at the time for compositing hand-drawn characters on a computer-generated backdrop to enable dramatic sweeping camera moves."[86] Similarly, Empire‍ '​s Helen O'Hara believes that the scene "paved the way for the new digital style of animation."[142] Mike Scott of The Times-Picayune gives the scene credit for the success of the computer-animated films of Pixar Animation Studios. Scott elaborated, "when 'Beauty & the Beast' was first released in 1991, Pixar Animation Studios was still just a small-potatoes, mostly experimental upstart," continuing, "the warm reaction to that single scene would serve as a major springboard for the computer-animation industry -- and a major blow to hand-drawn animation." Scott concluded, "Just eight years later, Pixar introduced a historic film of its own, the computer-animated, feature-length Toy Story. Game changed, just like that."[87] Interiors believes that "The merging of hand-drawn animation with computer-animation in Beauty and the Beast was innovative for its time and made way for future animated films, such as the first CGI film, Toy Story."[20] In his review of Toy Story (1995), film critic Roger Ebert suggested that audiences recall the ballroom sequence in Beauty and the Beast to better understand the film's achievement.[143] Film4 believes that the ballroom scene "introduced audiences to the potential of computer animation,"[144] while Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation author Tom Sito wrote that it "made many skeptics in Hollywood begin to look at CG seriously."[39] The scene also inspired studio executives, who were originally "hostile to the idea of computers," to pursue the new art form even further.[145]

Covers and parodies

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.

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".[146]

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.[147]

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

In a duet with Jimmy Fallon, American singer Ariana Grande impersonated Dion while performing "Beauty and the Beast" live on the comedian's late-night talk show in 2015.[148]

Formats and track listings

  • 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

Charts and certifications

See also

References

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