On Friday, one week before the theatrical release of the live-action The Little Mermaid, Disney dropped the soundtrack. The album features not only the film's score composed by Menken but also a lot of the iconic songs from the original film written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman with new drops by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Menken.
The Little Mermaid's songs are voiced by Halle Bailey (Ariel), Daveed Diggs (Sebastian), Awkwafina (Scuttle the Sea Bird), Jonah-Hauer King (Prince Eric), Melissa McCarthy (Ursula) and Jacob Tremblay (Flounder). Overall, it is incredibly delightful, with little twists here and there, though still paying homage to the animation it was adapted from. For example, ‘Kiss The Girl’—a personal fave—still maintains its Caribbean influences and groovy feel, yet the lyrics were reviewed to reflect essential points regarding consent. The original lyric, “Possible she want you too, there is one way to ask her/It don’t take a word, not a single word/Go on and kiss the girl," was updated to, “Possible she want you too/Use your words, boy, and ask her/If the time is right and the time is tonight/Go on and kiss the girl”.
While some fans of the original The Little Mermaid may be elated to learn that the live-action soundtrack largely remains faithful to the source material, others may argue that it isn’t necessarily a good thing. On ‘Part of Your World’, a goose-bumps-inducing ballad about Ariel’s discontent with life in the ocean and her dreams of becoming part of the human world, Halle Bailey’s voice shows a brilliant new shade of wistfulness that is palpable when she sings, "Wanderin’ free, wish I could be/ Part of that world". Halle is nothing short but amazing on the song, but I am afraid that since it hardly departs from the style of the original sung by Jodi Benson, it will forever be compared to it and restrained from being appreciated in its special glory.
‘Les Poissons’—an amusing classical song that takes place inside Louis's kitchen as he cooks seafood, much to Sebastian's horror before he gets pursued by the chef who tries to cook him, only to damage the kitchen in the process— is noticeably absent. A bit of a downer as it was an interesting comic relief.
Nevertheless, there are two new songs that hit the right spot! ‘Wild Uncharted Waters’ for Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King is a lovely addition to the short list of songs for Disney Prince. Then there’s ‘The Scuttlebutt’, an earworm, wacky, rap-style track where Scuttle the Seabird urgently relays juicy gossip to Sebastian through impressive bars, “Okay, now huddle up, buttercup / From the women who wash all the clothes to the hunter who arrows the bows / The chatter all over the palace is that your Prince Eric is gonna propose”, to Ursula who has apparently convinced Prince Eric to marry her. The insanely catchy hook refuses to stop swimming in my head. Love and light to all the other poor unfortunate souls that are going to end up like me.
On Friday May, 26th, we will be re-introduced to Ariel, a curious strong-willed mermaid frustrated by life underwater. Refusing to be bound by rules that constrain her search for knowledge, she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula and exchanges her beautiful voice for legs which allow her to explore the world above and, as she does so, she falls in love with a human, Prince Eric. Listen to the soundtrack now, so as waves of emotions wash through you when you witness Ariel’s journey, you can at least, sing along.