Why were ‘The Little Mermaid’ songs tweaked? Lyrics of 'Kiss the Girl' and 'Poor Unfortunate Souls' changed
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: The viewers lining up for watching the live-action remake of ‘The Little Mermaid’ are in for a surprise as the makers of the Halle Bailey starrer have made a few tweaks to the original version. One of these is the change in the lyrics of two of the most prominent songs of the musical to match the modern sensibility.
Lyricists Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda opted for altering a few verses from the songs ‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ to resonate with the modern audience. While in ‘Kiss the Girl’ Jonah Hauer-King performs as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy, taking up the role of Ursula, sings the ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’.
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Talking to Vanity Fair, Menken explained, “There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl’ because people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that he would, in any way, force himself on Ariel.” Keeping in mind the matter of women's representation and consent, Menken explained the song underwent a few changes in order to comply with the idea that Prince Eric is not forcing himself upon Ariel, who at this point, has lost her voice.
Another verse from the ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ sung by the main antagonist Ursula also came under the editorial scissors. The original sang, “The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber/ they think a girl who gossips is a bore./ Yet on land, it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word.” However, Menken opined that “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.”
'I'm very, very thrilled with it'
The showrunners found a supportive soul in the original Ariel, Jodi Benson. Benson, who voiced the 1989 classic, is all up for the necessary revisions that the lyrics have gone through. Keeping in mind the difference in era and how the world has undergone a change in these three decades, Benson, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, stated, "We're talking about starting our [voiceover] sessions in '86 [for the original film]. It's 2023, so we have to grow, we have to learn, we have to be aware of our surroundings.”
She further continued, while extending her support for the constructive editing that ‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ went through, "Things change. We've got to roll with that. I think that Rob and John have done a beautiful job of doing that, and still paying tribute and honor to our original film.” Elaborating on her previous point of adapting to the change according to the surrounding, the ‘Enchanted’ actress added, “But you've got to have growth.”
She also opined that adjustments are a must in order to stay relevant, as she continued, “It's very important to stay relevant with where we are, what's going on around us. We need to be aware. So the adjustments and the fine-tuning that they needed to do, it was a must, but it was done in a beautiful way, and I'm very, very thrilled with it."
'There were some feelings around consent'
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Jonah Hauer-King, who plays the charming Disney Prince Eric said that the prince and Ariel are in for a “more grown-up and mature” relationship in the 2023 live-action remake of the film. Supporting Menken’s vision of changing the lyrics of ‘Kiss The Girl’ to match the modern sensibility, the Cambridge-educated British actor said, “My understanding is that there were some feelings around consent and asking to kiss someone, which makes total sense to me.”