‘The Little Mermaid’ Remake Changed Lyrics for Consent

Alan Menken, who wrote the original animated film’s songs with Howard Ashman, adapted the songs “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.

Each new live-action Disney remake includes a handful of new songs that compliment the animated classic’s original score to expand the world of beloved characters (and also qualify for an Academy Award for Original Song). But in “The Little Mermaid,” coming out next month, the tunes from the original 1989 animated film will sound very different from how fans remember them.

Alan Menken, the composer of the film’s original score, revealed this in a new interview Vanity Fair that two songs from the original “The Little Mermaid” have been modified for the upcoming remake. Menken, who worked with the late lyricist Howard Ashman on the original film and collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the score for the remake, said the changes were made to modernize the messages portrayed in the classic numbers.

One of the songs changed is “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, the popular evil song delivered by the main antagonist Ursula (played by Melissa McCarthy in the remake). During the song, Ursula tries to convince Ariel (Halle Bailey) to give up her voice as part of a magical deal, encouraging her by singing on the surface that men don’t like a lot of bullshit/That’s what a girl who gossip is a dull thing/Yes, on land it is much preferred/For ladies not to say a word.”

“We have some revisions in ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ for lines that young girls might feel they shouldn’t speak out of line,” Menken said. – Even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel into giving up her voice.

The other song to be rewritten is “Kiss the Girl,” a calypso-inspired number sung by Cancerian Sebastian (Daveed Diggs) as he tries to encourage Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) in a role that almost became Harry Styles. ) to kiss Ariel. Ariel also wants to kiss Erik – her goal is to get a caress from the prince so she can remain human forever – but apparently lyrics like “No words, not a single word / Go and kiss the girl” caused concern to the team behind the remake.

“People were very sensitive to the idea of ​​(Prince Eric) forcing himself on (Ariel) in any way,” Menken said. (In the film, the context behind the text is that Ariel cannot say a word because she is mute).

Elsewhere in the interview, Menken discussed the original songs he developed with Miranda, including “Scuttlebutt” for Sebastian and Scuttle (Awkwafina) and a song for Ariel’s father, King Triton (Javier Bardem), called “Impossible Child,” which it was eventually cut from the film. the final version of the film. He also revealed that he considered using the song Her Voice, Eric’s ballad from the Broadway stage adaptation of the animated film, but director Rob Marshall vetoed it in favor of a new song, Wild Unchartered Waters.

“Live-action films are truly a director’s medium. They want to go back to what they saw in the animation and take it fresh from there,” Menken said. “Besides, clearly everyone wants a new song for the live-action movie for the awards.”

The Little Mermaid hits theaters on May 26.

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