Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Beauty and the Beast

First performed and recorded by Angela Lansbury (1991).
Hit version by Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson (US #9/MOR #3/UK #9 1991).

From the wiki: “‘Beauty and the Beast’ was written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken for the Disney animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). The film’s theme song, a Broadway-inspired ballad, was first recorded by British-American actress Angela Lansbury in her role as the voice of the character Mrs. Potts.

“‘Beauty and the Beast’ was subsequently recorded as a pop duet by Canadian singer Celine Dion and American singer Peabo Bryson, and was released as the only single from the film’s soundtrack in late 1991. Disney first recruited solely Dion to record a radio-friendly version of it in order to promote the film. However, the studio was concerned that the then-newcomer would not attract a large enough audience in the United States on her own, so they hired the more prominent Bryson to be her duet partner. (At first Dion was also hesitant to record ‘Beauty and the Beast’ because she had just recently been replaced from recording the theme song of the animated film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, ‘Dreams to Dream’, that was at first offered to and rejected by Linda Ronstadt but would ultimately be recorded by Ronstadt after she changed her mind.)

“Both versions of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ were very successful, garnering both a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as Grammy Awards for Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The single was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

“Lansbury’s performance has been universally lauded by both film and music critics. While the Dion-Bryson version received mixed reviews from critics who felt that it was inferior to Lansbury’s original, the duo’s single became a commercial success, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the better-known of the two renditions. In addition to returning Disney songs to the pop charts after a thirty-year absence, the success of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ also launched Dion’s career and established her as a bankable recording artist.”

Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson, “Beauty and the Beast” (1991):

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