Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid has made a few timely alterations to its songbook.
Featuring Halle Bailey in the lead role of Ariel, whose fascination with the human world drives her into the arms of Prince Eric (played by Jonah Hauer-King), the musical remake includes classic tunes ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ and ‘Kiss the Girl’.
Speaking to Vanity Fair ahead of the movie’s release next month, composer Alan Menken revealed that the lyrics to those two favourites were modified to incorporate consent.
Related: The Little Mermaid is making a big change from the Disney original
“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 said.
In that particular sequence, Eric is encouraged to kiss the voiceless Ariel, while the new ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ takes out villain Ursula’s original words: “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.”
Menken further explained: “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.”
Related: Disney’s Little Mermaid unveils first look at Sebastian the Crab
Meanwhile, it’s been common knowledge since September 2021 that The Little Mermaid will also be awash with new singalongs for Disney lovers.
“At first, [songwriter] Lin-Manuel Miranda was struggling to do Alan Menken-style songs, and he felt like, walking in [late collaborator] Howard Ashman’s shoes was a daunting prospect,” said Menken at the time.
“Then we wrote some songs that were in Lin’s wheelhouse and for me, walking in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s shoes was a daunting prospect. But we had a blast.”
The Little Mermaid premieres in UK and US cinemas on May 26.