I, as many a human, am super excited for the premiere of the live-action Beauty and the Beast on March 17th. But now we have the album to get us more excited. However, it's not doing its job to its fullest potential.
I've been listening to it all day and while I have discrepancies with various voices and songs, while also loving new additions and arrangements, but I've never had such a strong feeling towards the actual sound. Y'all, it sounds bad.
Now, I think this would be pegged on the sound engineer or editor (I'm not exactly sure of the specific titles), as it's the actual overall sound that makes this album not that great. Throughout the album at various times, the performers sound incredibly choppy. As if their voices glitched while singing and jumped to new notes in the song while trying to simultaneously sing the one before it. This could be because of auto-tune or from bad editing, but either way, it makes the album sound cheaply made.
On top of that, they put Dan Stevens' voice through, basically, a voice changing toy you can buy at the Emporium to make him sound "more beast-like," which is a big bummer. His new solo, "Evermore," is truly beautiful. It really crescendos into a pretty powerful love song that will become part of the Disney classic lexicon soon. They may choose to consistently play Josh Groban's cover, however, as the beast voice cover is a hindrance.
Now, with that biggest annoyances out of the way, the voices are great. Emma Watson sings how I've always thought Belle would sing. She has a reserved, nervous, hopeful quality in her voice that is beautiful. She is reserved, just like Belle, and that shows on all of her solos. The "Belle (Reprise)" is a great example as her voice grows to the big climax, but still is more subtle than previous Belle performances.
Some songs have new arrangements that include large lyric-less segments, with "Be Our Guest" being the biggest offender. Ewan McGregor does a lovely job on the song, but I'd rather it be consistently moving and not having rather noticeable breaks.
Emma Thompson on the title song is GORGEOUS, and even though there are a few breaks, this song covers them up well. She does a phenomenal job (as if she would've been bad!) and I now want her in all the Disney musicals. Kevin Smith wants to remake Bedknobs and Broomsticks and I want Emma Thompson in the lead. kthxbai.
I can't give you an honest, unbiased opinion on "Gaston," as I dislike Josh Gad's voice and that song as a whole, so sorry 'bout it. It was eh. Ask a friend you trust for that review. However, Luke Evans can SING and is great on "The Mob Song."
The album didn't have enough Audra McDonald (scratch that-the world doesn't have enough Audra McDonald), but her voice soars on the finale track.
As far as the original songs go, as mentioned, "Evermore" is stunning. Now, if you're familiar with Beauty and the Beast lore and the Broadway production, the moment captured in "Human Again" has been replaced with a very beautiful song called "Days in the Sun." While the former was a more lively look to the future, the new track is a contemplative and hopeful look towards breaking the curse. A ballad tempo works for the moment and I plan on singing it alone in my room for an extended period of time.
"How Does a Moment Last Forever" is the most prominent original song, as it becomes a motif throughout the film. Kevin Kline and Emma Watson do lovely jobs on their small slivers, but Celine Dion singing the full version is bound for a Disney fireworks show. It is beautiful and magical. Asking Celine back for this album was so smart and this pairing was the perfect choice. I'd like the start the campaign for this to be the Oscar-nominated song from the film so she can sing it at the Oscars.
Overall, the album grows on you if you can ignore the choppiness, longer instrumental sections, and weird editing. I can imagine this rating going up the more I listen to it, but those mistakes are so apparent that I must stick with this.
Beauty and the Beast (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) gets 3.5 out of 5