By Lynn Lee
With the live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast just around the corner, what better time to revisit the original animated masterpiece and its endlessly hummable songs? If you saw the movie when it came out in 1991 and happened to be a bookish, musical theater-loving little girl (or boy) at the time, odds are you got the soundtrack and learned it by heart. (I plead guilty on all counts.)
While I have no idea what happened to my copy, every beat and lyric – by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, respectively – are still firmly etched into my memory. I never saw the Broadway musical, which restored a song that had been scrapped from the movie (“Human Again”) and added several new songs by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice, but reportedly the new movie isn’t including any of the latter. Instead it’s adding four newly new songs by Mencken and Rice. However, fear not, fellow original Disney B&B enthusiasts: it appears that all of the Mencken-Ashman songs from the 1991 movie will be in the mix. As Cogsworth would say, “If it’s not ba-roque, why fix it?”
We’ll have to wait to debate the merits of the new songs but we can discuss how the original ones stack up against each other. With the caveat that this feels a bit like picking one’s favorite kid, here’s my ranking from lowest to highest...