BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: a “Change” for Better or Worse?

Beauty and the Beast Cover

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

One of the most common discussions around the score of Beauty and the Beast focuses on “A Change in Me”, the song that was added to the score in 1998 for Toni Braxton when she played the role of Belle. Here’s my take on the song.

In context, it’s all right – not great, but it works for the moment. The melody is lovely and lilting and the song flows out of the action of the book far better than some of the other songs created for the stage show, but the lyrics are too general. There’s nothing particularly character or situation specific in the song: countless characters in the musical theatre or Disney canons could sing about how they ‘never thought (they’d) leave behind (their) childhood dreams’. Other lyrics just don’t add up: ‘dark despair’ is pompous in tone and more suited to the Beast than to Belle, and when Belle sings ‘my perfect world out there had disappeared for good’, this is just incongruent with the narrative, because her world was obviously imperfect to begin with, hence her dissatisfaction with her ‘provincial life’ at the top of the show.

Out of context, when placed in the jukebox show On the Record, the song is simply disappointing. The barer arrangement exposes the weakness of the lyrics and by the end Ashley Brown has belted any charm the song had into oblivion.

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3 Responses to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: a “Change” for Better or Worse?

  1. FactoryGrl says:

    I think what she means by her ‘perfect world out there’ is the world she envisioned while dreaming of leaving her provincial life. She thought the world was perfect and better outside her small town until she left it and found out how the world can really be.

  2. David Fick says:

    I can understand that as an interpretation – but if that was Tim Rice’s intention, then he should have written a lyric that expressed that thought. As it is now, it’s just generalised waffle. There are hints at all kinds of things in the lyrics, but none are ever truly defined and the song never gets to grips with what it is actually about or what its specific points of reference are. The only thing that is defined is that Belle is singing a song about how she’s changed, yet another song in which she is singing about herself. Is Belle just as self-obsessed and single-minded as she was at the start? I don’t think so, and might even say that that was the point of this moment, yet this song itself doesn’t successfully reflect that in its lyrics, which is a pity.

    As I mentioned before, melodically – as well as in terms of its orchestration – the song works atmospherically and leads naturally out of the situation, more so than some of the other new songs. But in terms of lyrics, “A Change in Me” ultimately doesn’t cut it. One could listen to the first two lines, switch off for the rest of the song and still get what’s going on. There’s nothing that compels one to listen to the rest of the lyric: there’s no development, no journey that the song takes us through and no inventiveness in the lyric in itself.

  3. Vanessa20 says:

    I agree that she means the world she dreamed of, but I don’t think it means she was disillusioned by the real world. The tone of the song is far from pessimistic. I think she just means that she had magnificent dreams of adventure outside her provincial life, but those dreams were shattered when she lost her freedom to the Beast, but then she found that her life with him was just as worthwhile as anything she dreamed of before.

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