By: Ashley Alvarez//
Beauty and the Beast is one of the most timeless Disney movie soundtracks, and one that has been and will continue to be my favorite. Recently, the soundtrack for the new Beauty and the Beast remake was released, and to be honest I was a little nervous to listen! The importance of keeping the classic lyrics and rhythm from the original movie while still putting a new spin on it was high and there was little to no margin for error.
I anxiously waited to hear the first lyrics as I listened to “Belle.” I recognized the classic tune quickly, but when I heard Emma Watson’s voice I was dispirited. In the original motion picture soundtrack, Belle’s enchanting and beautiful voice is one that gave me chills and represented her sweet persona. In comparison, Watson’s voice sounded incredibly auto-tuned and was lost on me. Don’t get me wrong…I love Emma Watson as Belle, but I just don’t like the way the audio producers made her sound. The rest of the song was great and helped make up for Watson’s vocals. It was a modern, but still captivating take on “Belle.”
When compared to the original Broadway cast soundtrack, “Belle” doesn’t even begin to compare in vocals. As I said before, Emma Watson’s vocals weren’t at all what I was hoping for, and when comparing them to Susan Egan’s (Belle) vocals, they sounded even more inadequate. I’m not even a huge fan of Egan’s voice as Belle, but when compared to Watson’s they seem like a much better fit for the role. However, I will say that “Belle” from the new movie’s soundtrack as a whole does sound better than the original Broadway casts. It’s more magical and it captures the Disney essence better.
You’ll be glad to know that the soundtrack definitely redeems itself with the “Belle (Reprise)”. Watson’s voice definitely sounds better in this song. It has so much power in the lyrics and music respectively. It reminded me of “When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2)” from Tangled. I really love this song, and I think I almost like it more than the original track! The Broadway version of this song also isn’t as alluring and it doesn’t have nearly as much power.
“Gaston” is easily the most whimsical and silly song throughout both the new and old soundtracks. The beginning of the song unfortunately skips LeFou’s short monologue he has in the original motion picture soundtrack, which made the song start off seeming rushed. It almost sounded like Josh Gad (LeFou), forgot the beginning lyrics and had to pick up at the first spot he could remember. I was honestly starting to think that this song was going to end up being my least favorite from the new movie, but when the dance break began my feelings changed completely. It screams Broadway and made me wish that the original movie soundtrack had the same break. It makes the listener want to get up and dance. It’s pretty ironic that “Gaston” from the remake, sounded even more Broadway than the Broadway version. It goes without saying that the new movie version was once again better than the Broadway version.
One of the most popular and classic songs in Beauty and the Beast is “Be Our Guest”. This song is known around the world and is almost always thought of when Beauty and the Beast is mentioned. The biggest problem I have with this song is that Ewan McGregor (Lumiere) just doesn’t sound like Lumiere! Something that’s notable throughout the original “Be Our Guest” song is Lumiere’s French accent. McGregor doesn’t really sound all that French and the accent is just barely there. Lumiere’s French accent is strong and was one of his signatures as a character, and not having that accent present in this version of “Be Our Guest” really takes away from the song.
I held out hope that “Be Our Guest” would get better the longer I listened to it and it actually did start to, but the end just ruined it for me. When Mrs. Potts’ solo began, it really bothered me that the music was uncomfortably slower than the original version. When the ensemble came back in, this slow pace continued and the iconic and complex tune at the end of “Be Our Guest” was completely lost. This was, in my opinion, the most important part of the song and should’ve been left almost unchanged. It’s really unfortunate that what was originally such a good song disappointed me so much.
As I moved onto “Something There,” I really wanted it to redeem all of the faults in the soundtrack thus far. At first it really didn’t sound like anything special. Watson’s voice once again sounded very technologically enhanced. However, it did capture my attention after Dan Stevens’ (the Beast) solo, when the music changed into a dazzling and magical tune. It was a great lead up to Watson’s solo, and while her vocals didn’t sound great, the tune and build up made up for it. While this song isn’t quite as good as the original, I do think it’s better than the original Broadway soundtrack version. It sounds much more stunning and Disney-esque than Broadway’s version. The original Broadway casts’ version of almost every song so far has followed the original songs too closely.
The most chilling song on the entire soundtrack was by far “The Mob Song”. It’s such a villainous song and it reminded me so much of the music from The Nightmare Before Christmas. This resemblance amplified the power of the song and added a tone to the soundtrack that didn’t exist prior. “Gaston”, which was the movie’s villain song, didn’t carry the same tones or rhythm as most of the other songs sung by Disney villains. This version of “The Mob Song” is much better than the original version of the song and added that missing evil tone. It made the song so much better than it was originally and was one of the better songs on the album.
Finally, the album was able to end on quite a good note with “Beauty and the Beast”/ “Beauty and the Beast (Finale).” This song, like “Be Our Guest,” is one of the songs Beauty and the Beast is most known for. I was so impressed and surprised by the fact that I thought these songs were better than the original. In “Beauty and the Beast” I was so immersed in the song and the music, it almost felt as if I was actually present in the ballroom watching Belle and the Beast dancing. The original version of this song was very simple, but still amazing. This new version was a lot nicer to listen to rhythmically, since they added many more elements that just filled me with emotion, but still kept the ever important pacing and tune.
Broadway doesn’t even begin to compare to the films version of, “Beauty and the Beast (Finale)”. It had elements from two other great Disney finales, “A Whole New World (Finale)” from Aladdin and “Finale” from The Little Mermaid. Both of those songs are able to sum the movie up into one song and evoke all the emotions the audience felt throughout the show. Something else I loved about this song was that it sounded like some older Disney songs in that it had a large chorus that came in at the end, which sounded incredibly similar to the chorus that sang in almost every Disney song in the 1950s.
As a whole, this new Beauty and the Beast album is definitely not as good as the original. However, it’s important to note that this album really outdid the original Broadway album. I’m impressed that rhythmically it sounded better than Broadway’s version, but still a bit disappointed that the album didn’t really fulfill the expectations I had. Listening to an album should be an overall pleasant experience, but I found myself cringing a lot through certain songs. I still would recommend this album to Disney/Beauty and the Beast fans of any age because while it’s lacking in some aspects, it makes up for it with its amazing modernized and enchanting tunes, once again proving that Beauty and the Beast is a timeless tale. You can buy the album on iTunes or on the Google Play Store.