The Song and Its Success
“Beauty and the Beast” is the theme song of the 1991 Disney animated feature film Beauty and the Beast. Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg personally hired lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken to write the lyrics of the song. It was first performed and recorded by British-American actress Angela Lansbury who also played the role of Mrs. Potts in the film. The actress was initially hesitant to record the song due to its rock ballad style which was unfamiliar to her. After following the songwriters’ advice to sing it the way she envisioned it, the recording turned successful in just one take.
After its nomination for Best Original Song, the Canadian singer Celine Dion and American singer Peabo Bryson recorded the song as a pop duet. Disney’s decision to release it as a single on November 25, 1991, boosted the song’s chances. Eventually, the song won the title. The song obtained the said award both from Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Other credits associated with the song include the Grammy Awards for Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Moreover, the track received nominations for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year as well as the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
Despite those honors, the single’s commercial became a better-known version of the two previous covers as it peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Over the years, numerous versions of the song by various artists came out making it among Disney’s best and most popular songs. The American Film Institute recognized the song officially as one of the greatest songs in film history in 2004. The said film organization ranked it 62nd.
The Song in Country Music Style
From the country music’s side, “Beauty and the Beast” was covered by the band Diamond Rio. The self-contained country band’s gentle vocals blended amazingly with their instrumentals. The result was an equally stunning country version of this Broadway-inspired ballad song. The track appeared on the album The Best of Country Sing the Best of Disney released by Walt Disney Records on September 10, 1996. The album has reached the Billboard Top Country Albums peaking at number 17 while it ranked 107th on the all-genre Billboard 200. Moreover, the album entered the Canadian RPM Country Albums’ top 10 garnering the 9th spot.
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Alan Menken, Beauty and the Beast, Celine Dion, Diamond Rio, Howard Ashman, Peabo Bryson
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