The Little Mermaid songs "Kiss the Girl" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" were changed to update the lyrics for modern sensitivities.
In the modern age, everyone is sensitive about something. For some, it’s the thought of having the original Little Mermaid songs in the new Disney remake starring Halle Bailey. If the thought of hearing the original lyrics to the classic animated movie’s most popular songs, “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” has been keeping you up at night, then rest assured, the original song composer, Alan Menken has teamed up with Disney’s favorite lyricist, Hamilton writer, Lin Manuel Miranda, to rewrite the lyrics so that they cater to modern sensitivities, according to People.
It’s nearly impossible to make a film that won’t upset someone, especially when millions of people are expected to show up either at the theater or to tune in on Disney+. But Disney is certainly trying to please the masses, and one of the main things on their list is to rewrite the original Little Mermaid songs. Luckily, the production company has brought in the big guns by hiring the original composer and Miranda (who wrote the music for another Disney hit, Moana), so the new lyrics will likely have the same feel as the original score, just without any ambiguity that made the old lyrics feel inappropriately suggestive to some.
Specifically, Miranda and Menken are changing the lyrics in “Kiss the Girl” so it doesn’t feel like Eric might force himself upon Ariel and adjusting the lyrics in “Poor Unfortunate Souls” so that it doesn’t imply that Ariel can’t speak out against Ursala (despite Ursala’s manipulation being essential to the plot of the story).
Disney didn’t just bring Miranda and Menken in to rewrite these classic Little Mermaid songs, however. The pair were originally hired to create new music for the movie, adding songs for Prince Eric, Skuttle, and Sebastian. According to Menken, the original composer was always going to be a part of the remake, but Miranda managed to schmooze his way into the production by saying in several public interviews how much of a fan the Hamilton writer was of the Little Mermaid composer.
According to Menken, this was enough to have Sean Bailey (head of film production at the studio) give Miranda a call and invite him to the Little Mermaid team without ever clearing it with Menken first. Luckily, Menken ended up enjoying working with Miranda, so it all worked out in the end.
The pair worked on creating several new Little Mermaid songs for the remake together, including a song called “Wild Uncharted Waters” that Eric sings and a song called “Scuttlebutt,” which is a duet between Scuttle and Sebastian. When asked if the new movie will adapt any Little Mermaid songs from the Broadway musical version of the story (which features songs that are not in the original feature), Menken says that the team thought about adapting “Her Voice,” but director Rob Marshall wanted a new song made instead, so that’s what the music duo ended up doing.
To sing these new (and revised) Little Mermaid songs in the movie, Halle Bailey will be playing the titular Ariel, Melissa McCarthy will portray the evil witch Ursala, Jonah Hauer-King will take on the character of regal Prince Eric, and Daveed Diggs and Awkwafina will portray Sebastian and Scuttle, respectively.
The Little Mermaid will hit theaters on May 26.