Home > Culture > Alan Menken Explains Changing Lyrics for ‘The Little Mermaid’ Live-Action Movie

Alan Menken Explains Changing Lyrics for ‘The Little Mermaid’ Live-Action Movie

Alan Menken opened up about bringing The Little Mermaid back to the screen for the live-action adaptation and some of the changes he made to the show’s iconic music.


“There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl,’” the legendary composer told Vanity Fair on March 31, “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.”

While diehard fans of the original 1989 animated classic may have mixed feelings to updating some of the show’s most beloved songs, Menken also teased that viewers will get to experience a few entirely new songs he wrote for the movie in collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“One was the Prince Eric song, called ‘Wild Unchartered Waters,’” he revealed. “Then, there was the song for Ariel when she has her legs (doesn’t have a voice), and she’s singing her thoughts about all the firsts she is noticing for the first time. Then, there was a number called “Scuttlebutt” for Scuttle and Sebastian. It’s this harebrained [song for them] 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. Lin’s lyrics are to die for.”

“We wrote a fourth song called ‘Impossible Child’ for King Triton,” the Broadway legend continued. “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.”

Starring Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King and more, The Little Mermaid is set to hit theaters on May 26 while the film’s official soundtrack will be released one week earlier on May 19.

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