The Verdict: Emma Watson’s Singing Voice
The article below contains minor spoilers from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
It’s the question everyone has been waiting to be answered. The moment Emma Watson was cast as the iconic heroine Belle, everyone began to wonder, “But can she sing?” I recently attended an advance screening of the film and have a few thoughts on Watson’s singing performance.
Yes, she’s auto-tuned. It’s the most obvious when you first hear her in the opening of “Belle,” almost in an obvious manner but then it starts to fade. A little more than a quarter into the film, I couldn’t tell at all. Whether that was because my ears got used to it or the editors chose to lessen the effects later on, I’m not sure.
However, I believe she sounds lovely. It sounds like the tool is being used to aide her, like giving a small push or holding one’s hand, rather than covering up a lack of talent. I even forgot how little she sings after the first 40 minutes, aside from “Something There” and a new short song. I do believe she has the talent and by the end of the film, found myself fond of her voice and performance.
It’s important to note that auto-tune was used on everyone in the film, not only Watson. It can be heard in Josh Gad’s version of “Gaston,” clearer in some moments than others, and even a bit on Emma Thompson. The sound editors wouldn’t have used the tool on only one person, and with that, I feel a little better about the whole thing.
Watson’s voice matches the persona of Belle; it’s gentle, relaxed, and not overly forced. She did have to audition for the role to prove she could handle the music. Let’s not forget that the original Belle, Paige O’Hara, gave her seal of approval on Watson, and that should comfort those who worry!
If you go into the film with the intent to criticize her voice, you’re going to be disappointed by what you hear, no matter what. Her performance is wonderful, and she proves to be the perfect fit for a live-action Belle, so don’t let a hint of sound editing ruin it for you. You can listen to the full soundtrack ahead of time now and read my full film review here.