The Little Mermaid 2023: who composed the soundtrack and what songs feature?

15 March 2023, 17:28

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Disney’s new live-action remake of The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey will feature classic songs from the 1989 animation – alongside fresh new compositions by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Little Mermaid is home to some of Disney’s most memorable melodies. From ‘Under the Sea’ to ‘Part of Your World’, the original 1989 animation is a, quite literal, undersea treasure trove of tunes by much-loved composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.

In 2023, the Disney tale, which is based on the much-loved Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name, receives a live-action remake.

Halle Bailey will star as Ariel, with director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods, Mary Poppins Returns) at the helm.

The new film will tell the age-old story of the 16-year-old mermaid. Fascinated with life on land, Ariel falls in love with Eric, a human prince, and strikes a dangerous deal with a sea witch, Ursula, to become human for three days.

Here’s everything you need to know about the music in the upcoming remake of The Little Mermaid.

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Halle Bailey stars as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (2023)
Halle Bailey stars as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (2023). Picture: Alamy

Will the original songs feature in The Little Mermaid?

The Little Mermaid (2023) will feature new renditions of the classic songs from the 1989 animation, including ‘Part of Your World’, ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Kiss the Girl’ by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken.

The trailer includes a clip of Halle Bailey singing a suitably soaring rendition of ‘Part of Your World’, with the final title phrase up the octave.

Menken, undisputed king of the Disney film score, became the 16th person in history to be honoured with the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). He won two Oscars and a Grammy for his original score to The Little Mermaid (1989).

For the 2008 Broadway stage version of The Little Mermaid, Menken wrote new songs with Glenn Slater including ‘One Step Closer’, but it is uncertain if these will be included.

Read more: A superfan made a montage of 76 Disney characters singing in their native languages

Alan Menken has composed The Little Mermaid (2023) soundtrack
Alan Menken has composed The Little Mermaid (2023) soundtrack. Picture: Alamy

Will there be new songs on The Little Mermaid soundtrack?

Four new songs, with lyrics by Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, will feature on The Little Mermaid soundtrack.

Speaking to Empire about one of Ariel’s new songs, ‘For the First Time’, director Rob Marshall said: “It’s about her experiences the moment she hits land.

“We needed to create a number that could almost work as a montage, so we could take her through that experience – coming onto the land, what it’s like to put on shoes, have legs.”

Read more: Lin-Manuel Miranda fronts chorus of Broadway stars in Times Square tribute to Stephen Sondheim

The Little Mermaid live-action remake
The Little Mermaid live-action remake. Picture: Alamy

Who is in the cast of The Little Mermaid?

Halle Bailey, a 22-year-old American singer and actress and one half of viral singing duo Chloe X Halle, plays Ariel in The Little Mermaid (2023).

In a statement, Marshall said of Bailey’s casting: “It was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance – plus a glorious singing voice – all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.”

Bailey was first noticed by Beyoncé, who spotted the two sisters’ song covers on YouTube and signed them both to her label Parkwood Entertainment.

Melissa McCarthy will play sea witch Ursula, while Javier Bardem will play King Triton, Ariel’s overprotective father. Daveed Diggs will play Sebastian the crab, Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8) is Ariel’s seagull friend, Scuttle, and Jacob Tremblay, who was named Best Young Actor at the 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards for The Room, will play Flounder the fish.

When will The Little Mermaid soundtrack be released?

The soundtrack for The Little Mermaid is available now for pre-order, and will release on 19 May 2023.

The film will land on 26 May 2023 in the UK and US.