Music Observer

The Little Mermaid’s iconic composer, Alan Menken, returns with new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Alan Menken is a name that needs no introduction in the world of film composition. His music has been a staple of Disney films for over three decades and is responsible for some of the most iconic songs in film history. One such film that made him famous is the 1989 classic, The Little Mermaid.

The first film was a tremendous achievement, both basically and economically, and its music assumed a huge part in its ubiquity. Now, more than 30 years later, Menken is bringing a live-action/CG reimagining of The Little Mermaid back to life. Additionally, he has a new collaborator this time around: Miranda, Lin Manuel

The Little Mermaid duet between Menken and Miranda is a fascinating one. Menken claims that he was only a fourth-grader at Hunter College Elementary in New York City when he first learned about Miranda. 

It would appear that Miranda was a huge fan of Menken’s work, particularly The Little Mermaid. Menken’s sister, who also happened to be the aunt of a classmate of Miranda’s, would tell him about the little boy who was so into his music that he was a walking maniac.

Menken and Miranda would finally collaborate on The Little Mermaid years later. This time, in any case, Miranda wasn’t simply a fan; He worked with the team.

The songs “The One That Got Away,” “Aria,” and “One Step Closer” were co-written by the two and will be heard in the new live-action/CG version of the movie, which stars Halle Bailey as Ariel.

Read also: A Quirky Cast and Intricate Details: Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City Trailer Delivers

Where Little Mermaid Songs Came From

For Menken, working with Miranda was a dream come true. “Lin is one of those rare people who’s just a genius,” he says. “He has this amazing ability to take an idea and turn it into something magical.” 

Miranda, for his part, was equally thrilled to be working with Menken. “Alan’s music is so ingrained in our culture,” he says. “It’s such an honor to be able to work with him.”

The new songs that Menken and Miranda have written for The Little Mermaid promise to be just as magical as the original film’s music. “The One That Got Away” is a haunting ballad that tells the story of a lost love. 

“Aria” is a sweeping, operatic number that showcases Bailey’s stunning voice. And “One Step Closer” is an upbeat duet between Ariel and Prince Eric that’s sure to get audiences tapping their toes.

The Little Mermaid is a beloved film, and its music is a big part of what makes it so special. With Menken and Miranda teaming up to write new songs for the live-action/CG reimagining of the film, fans can rest assured that they’re in for a treat. 

The film opens on May 26, and audiences around the world will get to experience the magic of Menken and Miranda’s collaboration for themselves.

“For the First Time”

The first song Menken and Miranda worked on for the new live-action/CGI version of The Little Mermaid was “For the First Time,” an additional piece for Ariel. Miranda suggested slowing down the tempo of the melody and adding a dancehall beat to give it a Caribbean island vibe. 

The song, which involves multiple stops as Ariel adjusts to life on land, builds on the themes introduced in “Part of Your World,” the iconic “I want” song from the original animated film. Bailey teases that the new music from the movie is upbeat, fun, and emotional. Fans can’t wait to hear the new songs when the movie hits theaters on May 26.

Read also: From Abomination to Betty Ross: Former Hulk Actors Return to Marvel Cinematic Universe

“Wild Uncharted Waters”

Jonah Hauer-King, the British actor who plays Prince Eric in the upcoming live-action/CGI remake of The Little Mermaid, is set to showcase his vocal talents with his own musical number in the film. 

The power ballad, titled “Wild Uncharted Waters,” was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken and explores Eric’s character as more of a three-dimensional, adventurous explorer compared to his animated counterpart. Hauer-King believes the song will help audiences understand Eric’s yearning for his own identity, beyond the expectations of being a future king. 

Miranda admits that he was initially intimidated by the song, as it felt like it belonged more in the Menken-Ashman wheelhouse, but he wanted to “earn his keep” within the project. Fans will have the chance to hear “Wild Uncharted Waters” when The Little Mermaid opens in theaters on May 26th.


The Little Mermaid’s newest musical number, “Scuttlebutt,” was inspired by the seagull Scuttle, voiced by Awkwafina, and features Daveed Diggs as Sebastian the crab. The song’s unique style was a perfect fit for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s talents, as it has no discernible melodic patterns due to Scuttle’s tangential thought process. 

According to Miranda, the song began with a Caribbean-style melody that he chopped up into his favorite bits and ordered the lyrics based on that tune. As he worked with the actors, he found new ways to add to the song’s frenetic energy, with Awkwafina and Daveed Diggs delivering raps at lightning speeds. 

Composer Alan Menken calls “Scuttlebutt” a work of “accidental art,” and Miranda says it’s “the most deliciously ADHD runaway train of thought.” Fans can experience the music of The Little Mermaid in theaters when the film opens on May 26.

Photo: EW