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Saturday, December 2, 2023

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is unbeautiful

Bill Condon’s live-action remake of Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast is receiving unfavorable reviews and so is the theme song.

Pop star Ariana Grande and piano man John Legend  teamed up to cover the Beauty and the Beast sound track, an update on Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson’s Grammy and Academy Award-winning original. 

The song first premiered in the final trailer for the live-action remake of the classic film, but it’s only after the March 5 release of the song’s full music video on YouTube that people started making nasty comments about the cover version.

Music supertars John Legend and Ariana Grande in a duet for Disney's Beauty and the Beast

One doesn’t have to be a music expert to say that Grande and Legend’s version bastardized the 1991 hit. Listening to their version is similar to hearing a couple singing in a karaoke room equipped with a terrible sound system. Even the late Howard Ashman, who collaborated with Alan Menken in writing the glorious ballad, could turn in his grave. 

Legend and Grande’s powerhouse vocals were not even utilized in the song. They sound lethargic as if they just rushed to the studio and recorded the song sans rehearsal and vocalization. Its poppy tunes don’t even give justice to the original version’s magical orchestra because it sounds like a midi track or a cheap piano demo. 

The music video features appearances by Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Performing in a castle tower, Grande, in an elaborate, rose red gown with hair down, joins Legend, who’s at the piano. Their performance happens right in the middle of the film’s stunning ballroom dance scene with Belle and the Beast. And if there’s only one thing commendable about this whole fare is the flawless incorporation of the two singers into the film’s environments through the use of some sophisticated CGIs to produce the music video.

Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast

One of the challenges in doing a remake of an exceptional classic song is that people are already familiar with the original, the cover must be equally outstanding. Otherwise it would deal with unforgiving criticism and high expectations. And what’s happening with the 2017 version of the song is a constant reminder that something new doesn’t always mean something better. 

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