The Little Mermaid is a smash success as expected because it spoke to the pure hearts it was meant for. Despite the negative review bombing of some of its trailers and the strange narrative that it would “break” Disney’s $1 Billion dollar trend (a funny way to say it has made close to half a billion dollars in a few weeks), progress won out. The film largely follows the plot of the animated classic with little deviation. That places an inevitable criticism on it not being “original”, as opposed to the “it’s different so it’s bad” trope that would have followed any deviation. Thankfully, the people who matter for this film loved the highly-anticipated whirlwind romance of a mermaid and prince.
“Part of Your World” Becomes Halle’s Torch Song
Halle’s vocals are outstanding.
As someone who is a huge fan of “Part of Your World” as sung by Jodi Benson, I am pleasantly surprised that Halle managed to make it her own and rival my love for the original. That is a tall order! The original has nostalgia baked into it and we often don’t want to admit when a newer rendition surpasses the original in either personal opinion or technical ability. Halle’s belting, crystal clear notes, and warm tone infused something into the blockbuster song that I thoroughly enjoy. It’s been an absolute charm to watch her grow as a music artist, first from Chloe x Halle (a duo with her sister, Chloe Bailey), and now as a solo music sensation. It is rare that a singer gets their torch song, the one large ballad requested for the rest of their career, so early in their music journey. Expect Halle’s “Part of Your World” to make the rounds of singing competitions, talent shows, and viral covers for months to come.
The first reprise of the song, aptly titled “Part of Your World (Reprise)” was actually my favorite rendition of the song. Starting with Ariel’s mermaid song reviving Prince Eric, the reprise gives Halle a chance to reinvent her musical approach. I’ve had the last 45 seconds or so on repeat as Halle ramps up to a powerful belt that captures Ariel’s desperation beautifully. The cinematography matches Halle’s performance, thundering waves threaten to wash away Ariel’s dreams but she stands firm on a lone rock. This is a musical moment where visual and audio align tremendously.
“Part of Your World (Reprise II)” is a somber take on the original song. Each of the songs has a corresponding emotional arc. “Part of Your World” is a curiosity-laden wish song. The first reprise was a declaration to watch and see how Ariel would become part of Prince Eric’s world. The second reprise comes after treachery makes Ariel think that she has given up her world for no reward. It is somber and reflective. Here, vocals are scaled back for a sparse, sad atmosphere.
“Part of Your World (Reprise)” is a song written by Howard Ashman and performed by Halle for the 2023 live-action Remake of The Little Mermaid.
The Rest of the Music
The other music in The Little Mermaid (2023) is also solid. There are no new (notable) additions to the soundtrack. Daveed Diggs does a serviceable job as Sebastian for “Under the Sea,” though the addition of Halle’s vocals (Ariel) is greatly welcomed at the end of the previously Calypso track. Awkwafina’s voice (hit-and-miss alongside the ranks of people like Fran Drescher and Don Knotts) is gravelly and interesting as Scuttle. She joins Diggs on “Kiss The Girl” and has his assistance on “Scuttlebutt.” The two do a decent job with the renditions, grateful for one another’s help to carry the songs. Jacob Tremblay captures Flounder splendidly, though he has little to do musically. Melissa McCarthy gets away with “Poor Unfortunate Souls” with comedic timing and song grace. The only other noteworthy song might be “Wild Uncharted Waters” where Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) sings his heart out handsomely and is helped along by the romantic drama of the film.
“Wild Uncharted Waters” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and performed by Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric.
The Little Mermaid has amazing music and gorgeous cinematography. The ocean feels so real and vast. Your heart races as Ariel runs from a shark. The storms feel real enough to make you scramble for shelter. The love story feels like what you’d expect from a whirlwind romance in a fantasy story. If it’s not your favorite trope, I am not sure what you were doing when you purchased a ticket. Ultimately, this film sits next to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997) for me. And that is the highest Disney film compliment I give.