Total Time: (50:55)
Song Lyrics by:
My favorite song, which also happens to be the most overlooked on the CD, is "Something There." The reason this is my favorite lies in the classical style of the strings, especially on the first verse. Other treats are "Belle" and "Gaston," though my least favorite, oddly, is probably the most well known song "Be Our Guest." I would have liked a different performance on the track "Beauty and the Beast," though. Angela Lansbury may be a talented actor and even singer, but I can't seem to shake the image of Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote handling the vocals. Even so, the songs are all listenable and very entertaining, each featuring full orchestral backing, with the exception of the pop ballad version of "Beauty and the Beast" featured in the end credits. The song is a duet handled by pop sensations (now anyway) Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.
The score is composed of the same high quality as the songs. "To the Fair" is the least memorable of these, though it is still very good, and I really enjoy "The West Wing" which happens to be one of the most furious action cues I've heard. A most noteworthy track is "Battle on the Tower" which begins with a very comical mood based on the "Be Our Guest" theme. This tone changes after a few minutes when the battle shifts from the villagers to the battle between Gaston and the Beast. While listening to this cue, I also appreciate Menken's extremely complex style, which contains very richly textured orchestrations. The final cue "Transformation" is simply one of the greatest ever conceived. It contains a majesty that may never be captured in Disney films ever again, with a choral ending that is to die for, but has unfortunately become a staple in Menken's scores that would follow, making it seem rather like others of it's kind.
The only real problem I have with the CD is that fact the dialogue was left in the opening prologue. The begin of the score sets off very well with foreboding rumblings that let the listener know that they're in for one hell of a ride, when all of a sudden, that damn voice comes in, "Once upon a time..." which I find just irritating. I also believe that there was more score from the movie that didn't make it onto the disc. The CD is only fifty minutes long which makes anyone who notices wonder why more score couldn't have been included.
In summation, Beauty and the Beast is the best score ever for an animated film, and I think that if Disney wants to feature this kind of output ever again, I suggest that they try to change their attitudes that seem to say that cartoons are only for children. If you want to be entertained and you're a fan of fine music you should pick this up right away, even if you don't generally like Disney musicals. It's a keeper; trust me.