The Pop Version Of “Beauty & The Beast” Is Here & It’s Questionable

The hype for Disney's upcoming live-action version of Beauty and the Beast is quickly reaching its peak. We're a little over a month away from the film's March 17 premiere date, so we might as well go for broke and scream to the heavens in anticipation. This week in Things That Make Us Excited For The Movie, Disney released the full pop iteration of the titular song, performed by John Legend and Ariana Grande. Snippets of the track are featured in the full-length trailer for the movie, so we've heard flickers of its beauty before. But today, we have the whole shebang, and it's a little, er, different. The original version from the 1991 film, performed by Angela Lansbury, is lilting, sweet, and a little plaintive — all excellent qualities for a fairy-tale anthem. The melody is simple and is best presented without adornment. All this is part of the song's mission statement, too. The tune is a "tale as old as time" (and song as old as rhyme) — which means it shouldn't be subject to today's pop music trends. Enter: Ariana Grande and John Legend. They're both accomplished artists and undeniably talented. Both tend to excel in a minimalist setting. (For Legend, I direct you to "All of Me." For Grande, I direct you to her take on "I Have Nothing.") They are not the problem. No, the song's tracking includes a steady bass beat that suggests smooth jazz at best, elevator music at worst. Coupled with some mildly overwrought melisma from both singers, and the result is a pretty major cheese factor. Granted, Beauty and the Beast is a cheesy film. So who's to say that's not what the song is going for? In addition, this isn't the version of the song that we're looking forward to. Disney movie musicals almost always give us a pop iteration of their hit song, and those versions rarely endure. (Does anyone else remember Xtina's version of Mulan's "Reflection"?) Emma Thompson will likely be singing the song in the film, and I'm way more excited to hear what she brings to it. Listen to Grande and Legend's duet, below.

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