Album: Beauty And The Beast (1991)
  • songfacts ®
  • Written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, this is the operetta-style opening number of Beauty and the Beast, performed by our heroine Belle (Paige O'Hara) and the villainous Gaston (Richard White).
  • Ashman, who wouldn't live to see the film's release, nearly backed out of submitting this song to Disney. Menken told Entertainment Weekly: "The story behind this is that Howard Ashman was HIV-positive and wasn't telling anybody - he had been very quiet. And here we had written this crazy seven-minute opening number that was much more ambitious than anybody had asked for, and I remember his fear [about everything] in that moment. I remember Howard was very, very reluctant to send it out, thinking that we were going to be laughed at. He delayed sending it for two days. Finally, of course, we sent it, and Disney loved it. You didn't open an animated movie with a seven-minute number, but it redefined the form. We wanted to keep it very classical Mozart, very She Loves Me, with a quiet opening - 'Little town, it's a quiet village…' And then it explodes. 'Bonjour!'"
  • This was one of three songs from the film, including "Be Our Guest" and "Beauty and the Beast," nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Ultimately, the title number would take home the prize.
  • Disney executives insisted that Paige O'Hara perform this at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1992, even though the show's producers wanted pop stars to sing the nominated songs. She was given the option to lip-synch but chose to sing live.
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