While the original soundtrack cut “Daughters of Triton” doesn’t appear in the film, the mix of old and new songs build a new musical world for the live-action princess
Old becomes new on the official soundtrack for Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid, which stars Halle Bailey and will be released in theaters on May 26. Welcoming a new princess to the classic film more than three decades after its original release offers a chance for a new generation of children to build their own connection to the story — and the film’s original composer, Alan Menken, is bridging the gap with some help from Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Released one week before The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters, the revived soundtrack imagines the film in a new light. Yes, it features the classics, with Daveed Diggs leading “Under the Sea” as Sebastian and Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula powering through “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” but it also includes a lyrically revised recording of “Kiss the Girl,” updated to reflect necessary shifts regarding consent without compromising the heart of the record.
Miranda enters the mix with the addition of four original songs on the soundtrack, including “For the First Time,” a quirky account of the many firsts Ariel experiences as she encounters land. In the original film, the princess is notably silent, of course, but her inner-monologue is quite the opposite.
“Rob found a creative way to hear from Ariel, even though she is sans voice for a little while. We wrote some music for her time on land,” Miranda recently told Variety. “She experiences a lot of firsts, as someone with legs for the first time. We got to lean into all of that musically.”
“For the First Time” feels at home on the soundtrack in the company of the ultimate The Little Mermaid classic: “Part of Your World.” Even original songs from the 1989 soundtrack, like “Les Poissons,” find their absence filled with new additions, like Diggs and Awkwafina’s rap performance about juicy gossip on “The Scuttlebutt.”
“Live action films are really a director’s medium,” Menken recently told Vanity Fair. “They want to go back to what they saw in the animation and take it fresh from there. That seems to be the pattern and I go along with it. Besides the fact that clearly, everybody wants a new song for the live action film for awards consideration.”