Ariana Grande is Truly Iconic in the New “Beauty and the Beast” Music Video
In a week, Disney’s much-anticipated live action version of 1992 animated classic Beauty and the Beast will arrive in theaters, and I am quite possibly more excited — and apprehensive — than any other human on earth. When I was in preschool, I used to watch the movie religiously every day after school (usually as a double feature with The Lion King). I loved Belle. I wanted to be Belle. I mean, she had brown hair, loved to read, and was constantly singing to herself; by my toddler logic, we were basically the same person (or at least, we would be when I grew up).
Combine this with the fact that Hermione Granger was my other major role model as a child — another fictional, bookish brunette played by Emma Watson — and you can maybe get a sense of the astronomically high expectations I have for this particular motion picture.
But I have to be honest: the clips I’ve heard of Watson singing have been less than impressive. She sounds fine and is obviously an exceedingly charming and exquisite onscreen presence. But if I had more money than God (Watson is worth $700 million) and could hire literally any vocal coach on the planet to train with, I would want to sound more than just, I don’t know…decent?
Am I crazy? Is that too harsh?! Ok, ok — the jury’s still out on Emma’s vocals, and I know she’s also spending all of her free time at the U.N. promoting global gender equality. So what if her producers needed to use a little autotune? She has bigger fish to fry (namely, the patriarchy).
The one thing I do know for certain is that the just-released music video for the movie’s title song (which is not called “Tale as Old as Time,” people! That’s just the first lyric of the song!) featuring Ariana Grande and John Legend is the dreamiest, most heavenly four minutes of glittering Disney-inspired visuals that I have ever seen.
First of all, the cover itself is great — who better to take over for Celine Dion (who recorded the original pop version with Peabo Bryson) than a fellow diva who once did a legendary impression of her? My opinion on Ariana Grande as a human being changes on a daily basis, but I cannot deny that she is a phenomenal vocalist who, alongside husband-and-dad-of-the-century John Legend, knocks this duet out of the park.
So about this video. It begins with Ari gazing out the window of a castle and holding a presumably enchanted mirror. She looks amazing, and expertly interacts with the CGI sparkles that dance around her flawless face.
She is wearing an enormous and fluffy tulle dress that honestly kind of reminds me of the monstrosity Maya Rudolph wore in Bridesmaids, only bright crimson and fabulous (comedic sight gag, but make it fashion!).
Ari then descends to the ballroom floor looking like a TRUE princess, making ~eyes~ at the camera as dancers dressed as rose petals surround her.
I immediately labeled the dancers as her “rose petal handmaidens” in my head, because let’s be real, they are definitely giving off some major Margaret Atwood vibes.
John Legend appears for the first time right before one minute mark, and he sounds as just gorgeous (and looks just as much like Arthur) as ever. He’s even wearing a brocaded blue jacket that’s a suave shoutout to the Beast’s signature look.
But I’m really not here to talk about John (my apologies to John, and by extension Chrissy Teigen). Because literally three seconds after he begins singing, this TRULY ICONIC moment occurs:
Ariana’s handmaidens bend back to reveal the songstress standing at their center, gazing into the camera like a small, seductive flower fairy. It may just be the double shot of espresso I downed earlier this morning, but I think my heart actually skipped a beat as I watched this beautiful human rosebud open up in time to the music, leading me to frantically text my best friend the following message:
This human-flower hybrid reappears several more times over the course of the video, and I swooned harder with each new glorious formation. I mean, come on — the Disney score is swelling, Ariana’s hair is the shiniest and straightest it’s ever been, and the dancers’ aesthetic looks like a Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast crossed with an avant-garde Solange performance (i.e. something created in the depths of my wildest dreams).
Have you ever seen anything so lush? So visually sumptuous? My answer is no, I have not. Also, if you’re still reading, thank you, because this video is only halfway over and I have a lot more feelings.
At this point, Ari and John have been joined by Emma Watson and the CGI Beast. The characters dance chastely around the ballroom until this weird moment, when the Beast goes in for the kiss, and CGI Chip appears to want to get a liiiiiittle bit closer to the action.
Umm…that’s weird, right? I don’t totally understand what just happened, but luckily we are soon distracted from this moment of bizarre teacup voyeurism by FIREWORKS!
Combined with the light from the dozen crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, the fireworks create an explosion of so many white and blue and gold sparkles that the ballroom beings to resemble a Yayoi Kusama installation. Did she secretly art direct this video? Please leave your opinions in the comments.
At this point, everything is peaking — the colors, the harmonies, the shininess of Ariana’s lip gloss.
But all good things must come to an end.There’s one more flower formation (swoon), a few riffs for good measure, and one last shot of That Dress.
And there you have it. Exactly four minutes of sublimely shot, Disney-inspired, melisma-laden bliss. My feelings regarding the upcoming film are that annoying combination everyone says on their first day of high school — “Nervous, but excited!!! Haha” — but worst case scenario, I will now be able to show my children not only the original film (which I will always love the most, no matter how enchanting the new version may be), but this truly iconic music video as well.