For the upcoming live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” the lyrics of two popular songs have been updated to emphasize consent and female empowerment.
On Tuesday, Disney composer Alan Menken, 73, was questioned by Vanity Fair about whether the 1989 animated film’s music needed to be altered.
“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],” he revealed.
“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.”
Although the new lyrics have not yet been made public, everyone is familiar with the original version.
“Yes, you want her / Look at her, you know you do / 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.”
Also, during the film, Ursula, a sea witch, sings “Poor Unfortunate Souls” to Ariel in an attempt to convince the mermaid to give up her voice.
“Yes, on land it’s much preferred / For ladies not to say a word / And after all, dear, what is idle prattle for? / Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation / True gentlemen avoid it when they can / But they dote and swoon and fawn / On a lady who’s withdrawn / It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man.”
According to Menken, he and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, 43, have featured a few new songs in the film.
“We discussed with [director] Rob Marshall what he wanted,” Menken told Vanity Fair.
“One was the Prince Eric song, called ‘Wild Unchartered Waters.’ 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.”
He continued: “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,” Menken shared. “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.”
The forthcoming Halle Bailey-led film will hit theaters on May 26.