On more than one occasion, the composer Alan Menken has mentioned than composing the score for the animated film The little Mermaid It was a miracle because of the way it allowed him to combine emotion with an interesting story. A mix that can be seen in one of the studio’s most memorable soundtracks. However, the great challenge that director Rob Marshall faced in his adaptation of 2023 was to respect the musical section of a classic film and, at the same time, give it a twist to attract a new generation.
In 1989, The little Mermaid by Ron Clements and John Musker revolutionized animated cinema. At the same time, it revitalized the studio, which was going through the worst moment in its long history. The so-called Disney renaissance began precisely with the red-haired mermaid. Part of the film’s success was due to it being a musical, which opened the door for the later arrival of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, among others. so your live action had the considerable responsibility of reproducing the magic of the original without giving up the construction of its own personality. And, to achieve both, music would be essential.
Something that producer John DeLuca was clear about from the beginning of filming. For the executive and the talent behind the camera it was essential to maintain the integrity of the soundtrack original, so they waived any drastic changes. What they did consider was adding songs that would give a fresh air to a real-action context. A decision that allowed the music to delve deeper into characters like Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) and target a younger audience, thanks to the rap performed by Awkwafina, the voice of Scuttle.
The little Mermaid rejuvenate with his music
The combination manages to maintain a balance between old and new. But also that the new adaptation of The little Mermaid capture the magic of the original without imitating it shot for shot. Although many of the scenes and melodies are very similar to the animated version, the additions made the live action You will find your own voice.
A triumph that was achieved despite the considerable pressure that the creative team was under. The story that Jodi Benson – voice of the animated Little Mermaid – amazed by singing Part of Your World to the original composers is already part of Hollywood history. It was clear that music was important. Halle Bailey decided to perform that same song for her audition and it was her vocal quality that amazed the executives present. In addition, the young performer would provide a new tone and a different character to the protagonist.
The importance of the actress’ talent was central when analyzing the relationship between music and the new story. The songs from both versions of The little Mermaid They are the same, although some points are adapted to a new era. An example is the song kiss the girl, sung by Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay. In the original version, the lyrics urged Prince Eric to take the initiative. The most recent highlights consent and makes it clear that Ariel has the last word on the gesture.
Beyond the controversial points, the music of the new adaptation of The little Mermaid It delves into the experience of its protagonist by discovering new experiences. For the First Time allows Halle Bailey to showcase her vocal talents. While Wild uncharted waters explores Eric’s personality, a wink that gives the prince new dimensions. Besides, The Scuttlebutt allows Lin-Manuel Miranda to leave his mark on the soundtrack with an entertaining rap.
The improved version of a classic
Despite its changes, music in The little Mermaid remains central. Which allows the adaptation to propose a novel perspective of it. Closer to a drama than to the musical itself, the film uses chords as a bridge to tell a broader story. But also to make their characters more human and not just flesh and blood versions of the classics.
With its score conceived as a celebration of the history of animation, Rob Marshall’s film demonstrates that it is possible to capture the magic of Disney classics without giving up the possibility of giving their new versions their own character.