Tag Archives: Howard Ashman

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Atlantica

King Triton’s Entrance

The Little Mermaid is universally acknowledged to be the film that launched the Disney Renaissance (a period that lasted from 1989 until Disney’s Tarzan in 1999). The Academy Award winning score was composed by Alan Menken, who collaborated with lyricist Howard Ashman on the songs.

It’s a big day in the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. The court composer Sebastian (a Jamaican crab) is putting on a concert starring the daughters of King Triton, with tonight being the debut of the youngest, Princess Ariel. King Triton, benevolent ruler of the Seven Seas, makes a grand entrance into the crowded concert hall in a seashell chariot pulled by several dolphins, lighting up the chandelier with a burst from his magical trident.

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King Triton is most excited for this concert as he’s been looking forward to Ariel’s first performance. Sebastian insists that he is excited too (though he quietly mumbles that it would be helpful if the princess attended more rehearsals). Despite his grumblings, Sebastian takes the stage and the show begins with six of Triton’s children appearing out of clam shells singing (appropriately enough) “Daughters of Triton”:

The Little Mermaid ‘Daughters of Triton’ (1989)

Daughters_of_Triton

Oh, we are the daughters of Triton
Great father who loves us and named us well:
Aquata
Andrina
Arista
Attina
Adella
Alana
And then there is the youngest in her musical debut
A seventh little sister, we’re presenting her to you
To sing a song Sebastian wrote, her voice is like a bell
She’s our sister Ari…

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Whoops! The concert comes to a crashing halt as the final clam shell opens to reveal…no one! Ariel isn’t here! Her sisters gasp in shock, the audience is befuddled, Sebastian is mortified and King Triton is understandably upset, bellowing out “ARIEL!!!” very angry that his youngest daughter has seemingly skipped out on an important event. Where IS Ariel? Well, as it turns out, she’s been busy hunting for human artifacts with her best friend Flounder (even though she’s been told repeatedly to stay away from anything related to humans).

Originally this scene was going to play out differently. In an earlier storyboard, the scene was going to start with Sebastian going backstage to check on the sisters as they are warming up for their performance. He would then notice that Ariel isn’t there and grow frantic when Andrina mentions that no one has seen her in quite some time. The crab races off to tell King Triton the bad news, but a spotlight illuminates him before he can reach the king, so the crab resigns himself to the inevitable and begins the show. It was decided that the scene would play better if Ariel’s absence was a complete surprise for everyone.

Due to how the scene ends, this is a rare example of a Disney song that ends abruptly (another good example is “A Girl Worth Fighting For” from Mulan).

I always found the ending of this scene to be awkward as a kid, with the way the music comes to a sudden halt and how awkward everyone acts with the revelation that Ariel has no-showed the concert. Now that I’m older I can appreciate this scene better, as it starts a quasi-tradition of Disney princesses not being where they’re expected to be (for example, Pocahontas isn’t waiting to meet her father when he comes back from battle; Mulan is late to meet the matchmaker, you get the idea).

What do you think of “Daughters of Triton”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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See also:

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

For more Disney songs, check out the main page here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

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Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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In case the audience had any doubts about Belle’s feelings following Gaston’s ill-fated marriage proposal, the reprise to “Belle” (which I’ve also heard called “Madame Gaston”) sets the record completely straight.

Once Gaston leaves (a furious, mud-soaked mess), Belle flies into a tirade as she sets about her chores feeding the farm animals, mocking the “cozy life” Gaston had propositioned her with only moments ago:

Can you imagine, he asked me to MARRY him/ME, the wife of that boorish, BRAINLESS…

Madame Gaston! Can’t you just see it? Madame, Gaston, his “little wife”!

No sir, not me, I guarantee it, I want much more than this provincial life!!!

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell…

And for once it might be grand, to have someone, understand…

I want so much more than they’ve got planned…

“Belle reprise” (Soundtrack version)

I can completely empathize with how Belle feels at this moment (and I know many others can too). It is downright maddening to have your dreams and aspirations be ignored (or worse, derided) by everybody you know, and the pressure to “be normal” can be overwhelming. But Belle isn’t going to give in, she’s going to have her adventure, whether the townspeople like it or not (you go Belle!)

This moment is really as close as Belle comes to making a wish about meeting her Prince Charming and getting out of the small village, and it seems this wish is granted too, because no sooner does the song end than a terrified Philippe (the family horse) comes running up to her without her father, which leads Belle to ride Philippe to look for him, which leads her to…the castle!!!

Next time: “Be Our Guest” (and I’ll tell you a secret, Belle wasn’t always the “guest” in question, but that’s for later. Until then!!!)

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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You would have a very hard time convincing me that there is a Disney character more narcissistic and conceited than Gaston. I mean seriously, this guy is convinced that he is absolute perfection, God’s gift to humanity (and especially women), etc. The other townspeople (minus Belle) certainly don’t need any convincing of this “fact.” Therefore, Gaston can probably (maybe) be forgiven for presuming that Belle would agree to marry him without any argument whatsoever.

Yes, I said marry. Gaston has decided to completely skip courting Belle and is just going to ask her to marry him (and then hold the ceremony immediately afterward), what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

What Gaston (and the rest of the town) can’t fathom is that the traditional idea of being a housewife, raising a large brood of kids and particularly doing whatever a boorish husband demands is the LAST thing Belle wants to do with her life (especially if that husband were Gaston). So…needless to say, the proposal goes badly (Gaston ends up face first in a mud hole, with the whole town watching). But rather than accept this rejection and pick literally any other girl in town to marry him, Gaston won’t take no for an answer, he MUST have Belle, it doesn’t matter what she thinks!

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Despite this proclamation, Gaston is still depressed over the fact that Belle said “no” to him, and while Belle is adjusting to life in the castle, Gaston is brooding in the tavern while Le Fou (literally “the fool”) tries to cheer him up. This is the setting for “Gaston”, one of the crazier songs of the Disney Renaissance.

From beginning to end, the entire song is an homage to Gaston, how amazing he is, how perfect he is, and how everyone wishes they could be him!

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” Film Version (1991)

There’s actually a funny story as to how this song came together (I referenced it in Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics ). What happened is, when the writers were putting the songs for this film together, they created fake lyrics to accompany the melody to serve as a placeholder (the real lyrics would be inserted later). However, the fake lyrics for “Gaston” proved to be so catchy that the writers made the decision to keep them! (Which makes you wonder what the song was REALLY going to sound like, but I guess we’ll never know).

As it is, the song gives a rather enlightening view of how Gaston’s mind works. He receives near constant praise from all the townspeople, which in turn feeds his massive ego (I’m guessing he was spoiled rotten as a child, hence his anger over Belle saying “no”, it’s probably the first rejection he’s ever received in his life). It’s amazing what the townspeople have put up with from him: Gaston knocks over the chess board when he’s about to lose (and the people say no one can match wits with him); Gaston cheats in a brawl (by biting); in other words, Gaston is nothing more than a bully but everyone seems to be okay with that! The song also reveals that Gaston is a hunter par excellence (this includes mounting a rabbit head and a frog head on his wall, see if you can spot them in the scene!).

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” Soundtrack Version (1991)

Except for his ego, Gaston otherwise fits the bill of a traditional Disney hero, even his singing voice is excellent (I haven’t looked it up, but I suspect Gaston’s singing voice has an operatic background). This was all planned by the Disney animators though, they wanted Gaston to appear as this otherwise perfect specimen in the beginning, to contrast him with the terrible behavior of the Beast. However, as the story develops, the Beast and Gaston gradually switch roles: with the Beast becoming more “human” (even before the end of the film) and Gaston becoming more and more “Beast-like.”

That’s all for Gaston for the moment (we’ll get back to him after while), next time, I’m not sure which song I’ll pick next (they’re all so good), but I’ll be back with more tomorrow! Have a great day!

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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The year was 1991. It had been two years since Disney successfully launched the Disney Renaissance with The Little Mermaid (1989), and now the time for their next animated classic had come: Beauty and the Beast (1991). The movie adapts the classic French fairy tale of a beautiful girl named Belle (which is French for “Beauty”) who slowly falls in love with a terrifying Beast, not knowing that he is actually a prince trapped in an enchantment.

The score for this film was composed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Ashman, suffering from AIDS, did not want to work on the film originally but was eventually persuaded to do so. His health took a turn for the worst during production and he died not long after work was completed on the film (though a few of his songs did appear in Aladdin.)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” Soundtrack version

“Belle” is the opening number of the film and serves as our introduction to the book loving Belle, who is considered “a funny girl” by almost everyone else in town. The exceptions to this are, her father Maurice, the book-seller, and Gaston (more on him later). The song begins with Belle leaving her cottage and walking into town, singing about how every day is the same in this quiet village (a fact that bores her immensely). As the townspeople wake up and sing “Bonjour!” (Good morning/Good day) to each other, Belle lists off all the familiar sights that she has memorized by  heart. But Belle is clearly dissatisfied and sings her refrain of “there must be more than this provincial life.” Having read all of these stories of adventure and romance, Belle dreams of finding her Prince Charming and being swept away to lands unknown.

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Now, before I continue, there’s something that should be pointed out. The Disney animators wanted to emphasize how Belle is different from everyone else in the village. To that end, they color-coded her outfit to stand out. Look at the scene of “Belle.” See the blue pinafore she’s wearing? No one else in town is wearing the color blue, not one! Automatically Belle stands out to the eye (and it’s very effective). But I digress, back to the music…

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” Film Version

Unfortunately (for Belle), there is a “Prince Charming” who is very much interested in her, the town hero Gaston. When you first meet him, Gaston appears to be the stereotypical Disney hero: perfect good looks and a great singing voice (though this was by design to serve as a contrast to what comes later). For all his gifts though, Gaston is a huge narcissist, who thinks that he (Gaston) can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, BECAUSE he is Gaston!! This includes marrying Belle, “the most beautiful girl in town” because he “deserves the best” (the fact that Belle might not WANT to marry him doesn’t seem to make a difference). Gaston attempts to sing his own verse about how he fell in love with Belle at first sight, but it’s interspersed with lines praising his own handsomeness (you just know this “romance” is not going to end well).

As Belle prepares to leave town to head back home, the entire community begins to sing about her and this last verse sums up how much the town doesn’t “get” Belle:

Look there she goes, the girl is strange but special, a most peculiar mademoiselle/

It’s a pity and a sin, she doesn’t quite fit in/but she really is a funny girl, a beauty but a funny girl, she really is a funny girl, that Belle!

Belle has always been my favorite Disney Princess ever since I first saw the film, because, like me, Belle is a bookworm, and she feels somewhat isolated because of this (this last part was true when I was younger). Belle also dreams of adventure in far off places (and what young person doesn’t?) Interestingly, we never learn how old Belle is, or anything about her mother for that matter (we can presume she’s deceased, but when or how long ago is never broached). This is also one of my favorite Disney songs because, unlike, say, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, where the singer is a high soprano, Belle is a mezzo-soprano (which is my vocal range).

I admit, when I was younger (a lot younger) I used to wish that real life included people singing as they went about their daily lives, so sometimes I would pretend (as I was walking around) that people were singing the “Belle” song about me (ah, the power of imagination).

That’s all for “Belle”, next time, as predicted, Gaston’s courting of Belle doesn’t exactly go as planned, and for that he’ll want revenge!!

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂