Beauty and the Beast 2017 Soundtrack Review

I am an avid fan of Beauty and the Beast music and have been listening to both the Broadway and animated versions for years since I was a kid. I have seen both versions of the movies and the Broadway play. I was so excited to listen to the new soundtrack from the 2017 live action Beauty and the Beast adaptation. All the soundtracks were written by Alan Menken and have similar sounds. The Broadway version was his debut Broadway composition.

What did I think? Will my kids like it? There were some songs and changes I loved, and other songs where I preferred the original.  It is hard to have three unique soundtracks for the same story, but Alan pulled it off. Alan threw in different instruments, for example a harpsichord was used and changed the beats and climaxes enough to make it different. The words of the original songs changed slightly to adapt the more developed storyline. I liked this album enough to give it a few listens, and my kids love it too.  Read the rest to find out why.

The original animated movie was 1 hour and 24 minutes long featured 15 songs, the new movie is 2 hours and 9 minutes and features 19 songs. I have not seen the movie yet, but listening to the songs there is added depth to the characters. For example the song "How Does A Moment Last Forever (Montmartre)" we find out about Belle's youth especially the time with her mother.  She says,

    "This is the Paris of my childhood
    These were the borders of my life
    In this crumbling, dusty attic
    Where an artist loved his wife
    Easy to remember, harder to move on
    Knowing the Paris of my childhood is gone"

Belle calls this the Paris of her childhood, signifying it was the happy time of her childhood. From this we learn that Belle had a mother, they put some of her things in the attic, her father loved her mother, and that Belle had a hard time moving on.

The new movie keeps the original songs; "Overture" and "The Prologue", "Belle", "Gaston", "Be Our Guest", "Something There", "The Mob Song", and "Beauty and the Beast". The biggest changes I heard wjile listening were the adaptions from the play.  It gets rid of the songs, "If I Can't Love Her, Human Again", "A Change In Me" and "Home". The 2017 soundtrack adds the new songs; "How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box)" and "(Montmartre)", "Days In the Sun", "Aria", and "Evermore".

"Evermore" replaces "If I Can't Love Her" from the Broadway version.  It conveys an entirely different message. The most poignant lines of the song are "Now I know she'll never leave me/She will still torment me, calm me, hurt me/She will still inspire me, be a part of/Move me, come what may/Waiting here for evermore!"  The Beast realized she changed him and is happy for it.  He realizes the impact she had on his life. In the Broadway version of "If I Can't Love Her" he says, "Hopeless/As my dream dies/If I can't love her/Let the world be done with me."  In the Broadway version he does not want to go on, in the live action version he does and is inspired to keep living. I love the message of the new song "Evermore" though you can not belt it like you can "If I Can't Love her".

The other big change was "Days In the Sun" from " Human Again" and "Home".  This is another favorite change from the play.  I absolutely adore the new song "Days In the Sun".  Many people did not like "Human Again" and the original VHS that does not feature that song sells for a lot more.  It was trying to be like "Be Our Guest" but missed the mark and sounded too fluffy and happy. The staff are sad because they are not human, but the song is a happy song. "Home" made Belle sound very unhappy in the castle.  "Days In the Sun" is more melancholy and evokes regret of time past. It starts with an amazing opening by Chip recalling his short "days in the sun" and the whole cast remembering their days in the sun wanting to "relive just one".  Belle sings in it too, saying being at the castle has made her stronger, but she still longs to be "free".

How do the old songs compare?  It really depends for me.

  • Emma Watston as Belle- I loved her take on Belle, she sounded excellent. I think there was a little bit of autotune in her voice, but that is okay because she is an actress not a singer.
  • Dan Stevens as Beast-His voice was lower and more proper than I expected.  I prefer the old Beasts songs.
  • Luke Evans as Gaston-He was okay, did not prefer either one.
  • Josh Gad as LeFou-I am afraid to say this, but I can not get Olaf disassociated with Olaf.  I prefer the animated Lefou.  It is hard to imagine his voice being a villain.
  • Kevin Kline as Maurice-I did not like Maurice's song I'm sad to say.  It was a little boring.
  • Ewan McGregor as Lumiere-I loved his take on Lumiere and prefer his version of "Be Our Guest".
  • Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts-I loved her take on Mrs. Potts. Angela Lansbury will always have a place in my heart. Emma did a great job and I preferred her vocals to Audra McDonald's.
  • Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe-Her voice was to operatic for me. I did not like her singing in the Beauty and the Beast Finale song. It just did not fit. Her voice reminded me of Carlotta from Phantom of the Opera.
Let us talk about the end credit songs, there are three of them, "Evermore" by Josh Groban, "How Does a Moment Last Forever" by Céline Deon and "Beauty and the Beast" by Ariana Grande and John Legend. I love Josh's and Céline Deon's songs.  Maybe it was because their songs are new and different and they sound amazing.  What did I think of Ariana Grande and John Legend's version of Beauty and the Beast?  If it was the first time this song was released, I would have loved it, but it is not and it was too similar to other versions.  And Céline Deon's version was amazing, and the fact she was also featured in this soundtrack with a new beautiful song really overshadowed their version.  It was almost not necessary to this soundtrack, or it could have been sung by Céline again or not even added to this movie.

Here are the new soundtrack list of songs and which with ones I prefer and like.
  1. Prefer the same-"Overture" (Score) Alan Menken
  2. Prefer the same-"Main Title: Prologue Pt. 1" Hattie Morahan (narration)
  3. Not impressed-"Aria" Audra McDonald
  4. Prefer the same-"Main Title: Prologue Pt. 2" Hattie Morahan (narration)
  5. Prefer the same, but love this version "Belle" Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Ensemble
  6. Not impressed-"How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box)" Kevin Kline
  7. Prefer the same but, love this version"Belle (Reprise)" Watson
  8. Prefer the same-"Gaston" Evans, Josh Gad, Ensemble
  9. 2 thumbs up and prefer this version-"Be Our Guest" Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Ian McKellen
  10. 2 thumbs up-"Days in the Sun" Adam Mitchell, Stanley Tucci, McGregor, McKellen, Thompson, Watson, McDonald, Clive Rowe
  11. Prefer the Same, but love this version-"Something There" Watson, Dan Stevens, Thompson, Nathan Mack, McKellen, McGregor, Mbatha-Raw
  12. 2 thumbs up-"How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre)" Watson
  13. Prefer the same but love this version "Beauty and the Beast" Thompson
  14. 2 thumbs up for song message, okay for vocals-"Evermore" Stevens
  15. Prefer the same-"The Mob Song" Evans, Gad, Ensemble, Thompson, McKellen, Tucci, Mack, Mbatha-Raw, McGregor
  16. 2 thumbs up except Audra's vocals-"Beauty and the Beast (Finale)" McDonald, Thompson, Ensemble
  17. 2 thumbs up-"How Does a Moment Last Forever" Céline Dion
  18. Prefer the original "Beauty and the Beast" Ariana Grande & John Legend
  19. 4 thumbs up-"Evermore" Josh Groban
I definitely recommend everyone give this soundtrack a listen, there are enough differences to make it new and amazing.  Your kids and you will love it for years to come.

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4 Ways to Find Engaging Toys For Kids

Have you ever spent hours trying to pick out a toy for your kid, have them look at it for a minute then go play with the pots and pans? So much time is spent scouring amazon reviews looking for the perfect gift. So much money is spent on buying these gifts and so many homes are cluttered with unnecessary toys.

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Why did your children not respond toys the way we anticipate?  What can you get your child for birthdays and holidays that they will not disregard and in a matter of minutes? I've got a few suggestions and toys that will change your life forever. The key to finding a good toy is how well it engages the children's imaginations. Plain and simple as that, if the child can play with the toy in multiple ways, they will.  If they can only play with it one way they will grow bored with it.

How can we find these toys?  Here are 4 guidelines to examine when buying a toy.

1. Find generic toys.  We bought this kitchen for our kiddos this summer, toys are usually cheaper in the summer.  We  loved the colors because we have a girl and a boy. We wanted both of them to feel like it was their kitchen. The pots came from from Ikea. They are simple and plain, but can be used in many different ways.  My kids have spent countless hours fixing food with friends, having picnics, and cooking soups in the pots. It is one of our friends favorite spots when they visit. My son loves to use the kitchen to play with his cars.  He also cooks food for us. The kitchen also contains storage room for their food so they can pull it out when they want it and put it away when they are done.

2. Avoid talking and complicated toys. We have a lot of talking toys at our house.  Do my kids play with them?  Not really.  The problem with these toys is they only allow the child to play with them one way, they are not using their imagination. The toy is telling the kids how to play with it.  The kids are not engaging their imaginations and become bored.  We bought a hot wheels raceway for our son and gave it to him a month ago.  He plays with it sometimes, but he found the track didn't work very well, the cars sometimes fall off.  Most of the time he ends up just stacking his cars on the raceway instead of turning it on.  I am glad we did not pay full price for it. We are getting him a train set for Christmas and I have a feeling he will like it so much better.  He can move the trains anywhere he wants and there is not a wrong way to play with the toy.

3. Coloring is for girls and boys. My kids love to color, both of my kids do.  I have often heard moms say their boys just do not like to color.  What do they color most of the time, coloring books? No, they color on blank pages.  They LOVE blank pages.  They can created anything they want on these pages.  My five year old now carries around a blank notebook and is writing letters because she wants to, not because the page is telling her to write letters.  My boy loves to color with his markers and makes some of the funnest designs on his pages.

My son's art
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4. BlocksLegos, Haba toys and Melissa and Doug toys, are your friends.  What are so good about these type of toys?  They engage their imagination, have I said this already?  They can sort them by size and color.  They can create whatever they want to. The list goes on an on. When my son turned two he instantly gravitated to Duplo blocks.  He spends hours arranging them. My kids love creating airplanes with Legos.  My daughter and son use pattern blocks to create fun unique patterns. There are endless possibilities with these toys.

Now that you know how what to look for in toys, get rid of some of those non engaging toys in your house and find the perfect fun, engaging and imaginative toy for your little one. Your house, kids and pocketbook will thank you.

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