‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ Lyrics Updated for Live-Action ‘The Little Mermaid’

Shannen Ace

‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ Lyrics Updated for Live-Action ‘The Little Mermaid’

Shannen Ace

‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ Lyrics Updated for Live-Action ‘The Little Mermaid’

Alan Menken, who wrote the score for the original 1989 “The Little Mermaid,” told Vanity Fair that he has made some lyrical updates for the live-action remake.

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Halle Bailey’s Ariel and Jonah Hauer-King’s Eric in ‘The Little Mermaid’ | CREDIT: GILES KEYTE/DISNEY

“There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl,'” Menken said, “because people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel]. We have some revisions in ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ regarding lines that might make young girls somehow feel that they shouldn’t speak out of turn, even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel to give up her voice.”

Menken didn’t go into detail about the exact changes to the songs. In “The Little Mermaid” stage show live on the Disney Wish, one simple change has Eric ask Ariel if he can kiss her, and she nods yes. Of course, the kiss doesn’t get to happen as Flotsam and Jetsam knock the couple’s rowboat over. The Disney Cruise Line stage show also altered some dialogue between Ariel and King Triton to make Ariel more focused on her love of the human world rather than her crush on Eric. Triton asks Ariel at the end of the show if she loves Eric. She says she’s unsure but knows she likes him and the human world, so Triton grants her legs. The wedding between Ariel and Eric is also cut.

Menken worked with late lyricist Howard Ashman on “The Little Mermaid.” This time around, he’s working with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The two created three new songs for “The Little Mermaid,” including Eric’s ballad “Wild Uncharted Waters,” as well as Ariel’s “For the First Time,” and Scuttle and Sebastian’s “Scuttlebutt.”

“We had a great time,” Menken told Vanity Fair about working with Miranda. “He’s really smart. He understands theater really well. He understands a lot of things really well. He’s got this, as you know, stylistic brilliance that brings in hip hop and rap, and all old musical forms that help. Even though it’s a composer, me, and the lyricist, Lin—when we were in the room, all those influences came to band.”

Ariel sings “For the First Time” when she gets her legs. She doesn’t have her voice but sings her thoughts about all the first things she’s going to do now that she has legs.

“Scuttlebutt” is a “harebrained” song, Menken said, about Scuttle and Sebastian “trying to figure out what’s going on because they hear rumors that the prince has decided to marry. They think it must be Ariel but of course it’s Ursula in the form of Vanessa.”

It’s all this delicious imagination,” Menken continued. “Lin’s lyrics are to die for. We wrote a fourth song called ‘Impossible Child’ for King Triton. It didn’t remain in the film only because dramaturgically we didn’t really need it. It was so great to work with Javier Bardem on that song and people will hear it as a DVD outtake, I guess.”

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Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric in ‘The Little Mermaid’ | CREDIT: GILES KEYTE/DISNEY

Regarding Eric’s song, Menken said director Rob Marshall “wanted a new song for this moment of waves and all the wildness of what’s out there in the ocean. [Ariel] represented that to [Prince Eric]; she being the girl who saved his life. Live action films are really a director’s medium. They want to go back to what they saw in the animation and take it fresh from there. That seems to be the pattern and I go along with it. Besides the fact that clearly, everybody wants a new song for the live action film for awards consideration.”

While Menken felt “Wild Uncharted Waters” was the most in his wheelhouse, he said it was probably most intimidating to Miranda “because he felt like it was really stepping into Howard’s shoes. For the first time, I took the essence of a piece of music that had been in the underscore of the original ‘Little Mermaid.’ It was a very lilting feel to the moment. Lin asked to make it more edgy and more a two against three tempo-wise, if you know what that means. So we gave it a lot more edge and then wrote to that which took on this incredible excitement. It’s a real combo of the two but he had really influenced the musical field.”

We recently got a closer look at “The Little Mermaid” thanks to new photos and interviews from Entertainment Weekly. The film will hit theaters on May 26.

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