After the success of live-action adaptations of other Disney classics, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Cinderella, The Little Mermaid is up next. Of course, this means more in-depth explorations of our favorite classic stories and fresh takes on them for today’s audience. The first version of The Little Mermaid came out in theaters in 1989, kicking off the Disney Renaissance.
After more than three decades have passed since the release of the original picture, obviously, some changes need to be made. One of these is the music that gave the film its iconic status. As it turns out, two songs from the original film will have updated lyrics. But this isn’t the first time Disney has made changes to their classic songs for remakes.
Two songs in ‘The Little Mermaid’ remake will have updated lyrics to teach consent and empower women
“Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” have been marked as the songs with updated lyrics. Composer Alan Menken discussed the film’s musical strategy with Vanity Fair, revealing why two fan favorites would get lyrical changes.
“There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl,’” he explained, “because people have [become] very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel].” Although he did not specify specific lines, some speculated that he might change the following: “There is one way to ask her/ It don’t take a word/ Not a single word/ Go on and kiss the girl.”
“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,” Menken added.
Ursula’s warning to Ariel that men on land “don’t like a lot of blabber” and prefer “ladies not to say a word” is said to be the most likely lines removed.
‘The Little Mermaid’ isn’t the first Disney remake to get new song lyrics
The Little Mermaid remake is not the first time Disney has updated lyrics for a live-action version of a film. Similar changes were made to Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin. In the Aladdin remake, “Arabian Nights” and “Prince Ali” feature revised lyrics, most notably the removal of references to slavery and the suggestion that the Middle East region is barbaric.
Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is another live-action version to feature reworked musical numbers. Like with Aladdin, some of the lyrics to the film’s iconic songs were modified or removed. In this case, though, they were aided by the fact that they could use cut lyrics by Howard Ashman, the show’s musical composer.
Major changes include the removal of the lyric “and every last inch of him is covered in hair” from the song “Gaston.” In addition, the last section of the song “Beauty and the Beast” features a few alterations and additions.
Fans react to the news that ‘The Little Mermaid’ live-action remake will get updated song lyrics
Unsurprisingly, the news of updated lyrics for The Little Mermaid has sparked controversy and divided fans. Some have praised the changes for being more empowering and reflective of modern values. Others, however, have criticized the changes as unnecessary and ruining the nostalgia of the original film.
On social media, many fans have expressed their opinions on the changes. One Twitter user wrote, “I’m so pissed they changed the lyrics to some of the best songs in The Little Mermaid.
Another user, however, tweeted, “The original composer of the songs helped make the changes. So they are changes the original creator wanted.”
Even though the changes have been controversial, Disney has made similar ones in the past when remaking movies. And as with any change to a beloved classic, some fans will embrace it, while others will reject it. In the end, we hope we all get to love the film.