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.