‘Little Mermaid’ Lyrics Modified So Prince Eric Doesn’t Appear to “Force Himself” on Ariel

The Little Mermaid is the latest Disney movie to get a live-action reboot. Starring Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King as the titular Ariel and Prince Eric, the 1989 animated feature has been updated to fit with modern sensibilities, according to composer Alan Menken.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Menken spoke about lyrical changes in two of the movie’s biggest songs – “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”

“Kiss the Girl” comes during a pivotal point in the plot, when Ariel’s under-the-sea friends urge Eric to break the curse evil sea witch Ursula puts on her, by way of a soulful ballad. In the live-action version of the story, the lyrics to “Kiss the Girl” have been modified so that it in no way seems like Eric is trying to “force” himself on Ariel.

“There are some lyric changes in “Kiss the Girl” because people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel],” Menken said.

Elsewhere Menken said they similarly changed “Poor Unfortunate Souls” so that young girls didn’t feel “that they shouldn’t speak out of turn, even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel to give up her voice.”

Menken didn’t reveal which lyrics he and co-writer Lin-Manuel Miranda changed in these particular songs, so fans will have to wait until the film gets released on May 26 to find out.

On top of updating the original songs from The Little Mermaid, Menken, and Miranda have created some original works for the reboot. In the Vanity Fair interview, Menken hinted at the new songs saying one was a Prince Eric-led number, one was a song for Ariel after she loses her voice, and one was a playful duet for Scuttle and Sebastian.

Menken has contributed music to many Disney films, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Hercules. Miranda started composing for Disney in 2016 for Moana. He has since worked with the company several times including the live recording of his smash hit musical Hamilton and the 2021 animated feature, Encanto.

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic


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