The live-action version of The Little Mermaid will include modified song lyrics to keep up with modern times. According to Deadline, songs like “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” are being edited to allow consent. Alan Menken, who wrote the original songs with the late Howard Ashman, said, “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].” Menken worked with Hamilton creator and Tick, Tick… Boom! Director Lin-Manuel Miranda to update the song lyrics for the live-action version of The Little Mermaid.
Why Change Song Lyrics for Live-Action ‘The Little Mermaid’
In “Kiss the Girl,” Prince Eric is encouraged to kiss Ariel, who, at that moment, has no voice. In 2018, Princeton University’s male acapella group dropped the song from their performance lineup when a critic for the school’s paper called it “misogynistic and dismissive of consent.” The song is not popular in the #MeToo era is being modified for this new live-action take on The Little Mermaid.
“Poor Unfortunate Souls” is performed by Ursula and is one of the most popular Disney villain songs ever. The lyrics feature a line following Ursula’s request for Ariel’s voice: “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.” While this deceptive and untrue line is clearly used to manipulate Ariel, Menken has still changed the song lyrics, worrying that such a line “might make young girls somehow feel that they shouldn’t speak out of turn.”
From featuring a black actress as Ariel to modifying song lyrics, the live-action version of The Little Mermaid is definitely seeking to appeal to a different audience than the original 1989 film had. We will see if these changes pay off when The Little Mermaid releases in theaters on May 26.