The Little Mermaid (soundtrack)

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The Little Mermaid: Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released October 13, 1989 (1989 Original Release)
October 14, 1997 (Re-release)
October 31, 2000 (Special Edition Double Pack)
October 3, 2006 (2006 2-Disc Special Edition)
Recorded 1988 - 1989
Genre Soundtrack, film score
Length 43:18 (1989 and 1997 releases)
Label Walt Disney
Producer Alan Menken
Howard Ashman
Robert Kraft
Disney film soundtracks chronology
Oliver and Company
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
1997 Re-release
2006 Special Edition
Singles from The Little Mermaid: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
  1. "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
    Released: 1988
  2. "Under the Sea"
    Released: December 13, 1989
Singles from The Little Mermaid: Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack (Special Edition)
  1. "Kiss the Girl"
    Released: September 4, 2006 (Radio Disney)

The Little Mermaid: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the 1989 Disney animated feature film, The Little Mermaid. It contains the songs from the film written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as the film's score composed by Alan Menken. The score was orchestrated by Thomas Pasatieri. The album received the Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (for "Under the Sea"), and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

The soundtrack was first released by Walt Disney Records on October 13, 1989 on both CD and cassette tape.[1] On November 22, 1994 the album was included in a four-disc box set entitled The Music Behind the Magic: The Musical Artistry of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman & Tim Rice.[2] The box set included work tapes and demos intertwined into the finished original soundtrack.[3] The soundtrack (without the demos and work tapes) was re-released with different artwork, on October 14, 1997[4] and it was released internationally on October 31, 2000 in a double pack with The Little Mermaid II soundtrack.[5] On October 3, 2006, a new two-disc special edition version of the soundtrack was released to correspond with the two-disc Platinum Edition DVD release of The Little Mermaid. The first disc remains identical to the original release, yet with remastered audio, while the newly added second disc is composed of various newly recorded version of the film's songs by different artists, such as Ashley Tisdale, Raven-Symoné, The Jonas Brothers, and Jessica Simpson. It also included two music videos, as well as new cover art.[6]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Filmtracks 4/5 stars[8]

As of February 2007, the album is certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA.[9] In 2010, Rhapsody called it one of the all-time great Disney and/or Pixar Soundtracks.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman. All scores composed by Menken.

No. Title Recording artist(s) Length
1. "Fathoms Below"   Ship's Chorus 1:41
2. "Main Titles" (Score)   1:26
3. "Fanfare" (Score)   0:27
4. "Daughters of Triton"   Kimmy Robertson, Caroline Vasicek 0:38
5. "Part of Your World"   Jodi Benson 3:13
6. "Under the Sea"   Samuel E. Wright 3:12
7. "Part of Your World" (Reprise) Jodi Benson 2:15
8. "Poor Unfortunate Souls"   Pat Carroll 4:49
9. "Les Poissons"   René Auberjonois 1:33
10. "Kiss the Girl"   Samuel E. Wright 2:41
11. "Fireworks" (Score)   0:38
12. "Jig" (Score)   1:32
13. "The Storm" (Score)   3:18
14. "Destruction of the Grotto" (Score)   1:52
15. "Flotsam and Jetsam" (Score)   1:22
16. "Tour of the Kingdom" (Score)   1:24
17. "Bedtime" (Score)   1:20
18. "Wedding Announcement" (Score)   2:16
19. "Eric to the Rescue" (Score)   3:40
20. "Happy Ending"   Disney Chorus 3:11
Total length:

Unreleased songs/score[edit]

Several pieces of music from the movie remain unreleased in any format from Disney. The most important and most puzzling is a short reprise of Ursula's song "Poor Unfortunate Souls" which appears in the movie right before Eric and Vanessa's wedding. The piece is sung by Vanessa (Jodi Benson). It has a short prelude of Scuttle humming (Buddy Hackett) and the ending laugh is by Ursula (Pat Carrol). A fan-compiled complete score (including song instrumentals) does exist and can be heard/seen on video sharing websites, but Disney has yet to release the complete score.

  1. Fathoms Below (Instrumental) [1:41]
  2. Main Titles (Full version as heard over end credits – the last 7 seconds haven't been released commercially) [1:34]
  3. Sebastian's Fanfare [0:06]
  4. Orchestra Tuning (Source Music) [0:17]
  5. Daughters of Triton (Instrumental) [0:36]
  6. The Shipwreck [3:09]
  7. Scuttle, the Know-It-All [1:14]
  8. Triton Reprimands [1:47]
  9. Sebastian's Dilemma [0:42]
  10. Part of Your World (Full Version - The version heard in the film includes about 25 seconds of score before the song starts) [3:23]
  11. Part of Your World (Instrumental) [3:23]
  12. The Grotto Revealed [0:12]
  13. Part of Your World (Reprise) [Instrumental] [2:14]
  14. Ursula Plots / Ariel's in Love [0:46]
  15. Ariel in Love [0:23]
  16. Under the Sea (Instrumental) [3:11]
  17. Somebody's Gotta Nail That Girl’s Fins to the Floor [0:10]
  18. Sebastian and Triton (This cue was included on the "Music Behind the Magic" CD set, but was not included on any of the commercial albums) [1:38]
  19. The Power of Suggestion [1:46]
  20. Ursula's Lair [1:26]
  21. Poor Unfortunate Souls (Part 1 - Instrumental) / Ursula’s Deal [2:15]
  22. The Subject of Payment [0:31]
  23. Poor Unfortunate Souls (Part 2 - Instrumental) [1:14]
  24. Taking Ariel's Voice [0:39]
  25. She's Got Legs [1:10]
  26. Sebastian Relents [0:26]
  27. Eric and Max Find Ariel [1:23]
  28. In Eric's Kingdom [0:53]
  29. Sebastian in the Kitchen [0:10]
  30. Miss Manners [1:06]
  31. Les Poissons (Instrumental) [1:32]
  32. Sebastian Versus Louis [0:40]
  33. Crab on a Plate [0:27]
  34. Triton Worried [0:34]
  35. Kiss the Girl (Instrumental) [2:40]
  36. Ursula Takes Charge [0:39]
  37. Vanessa on the Beach (with and without vocal) [1:00]
  38. Poor Unfortunate Souls (Reprise) [0:32]
  39. Poor Unfortunate Souls (Reprise) [Instrumental] [0:32]
  40. Making a Plan / Interrupting the Wedding / Ariel's Voice Returns / The Sun Sets / The Final Deal [4:21]
  41. Happy Ending (film version) [3:10]
  42. Happy Ending (sans Disney chorus) [3:10]
  43. Eric’s Flute (Source) [0:10]

Total time of missing score excluding song instrumentals: 32 minutes and 39 seconds

Total time of missing score including song instrumentals: 51 minutes and 18 seconds

Score composition and orchestration[edit]

Alan Menken's first songs-and-underscore project garnered him an Academy Award for the Best Score of 1989. This would prove to give him a very high nomination-to-win ratio of awards. Alan was originally hired for the songs only, but after writing an underscore demo for the film's executives, his assignment grew. The following are some details on the film's score overall:

  • Almost all of the score features a section of music in the key of G major (including "Main Titles", the beginning portion of "Happy Ending", "Les Poissons", "Bedtime", and most instances of Ariel's solo aria). "Tour of the Kingdom" alternated between G major and E major throughout.
  • In darker moments, and for Ursula's theme, the key of G minor is prominent ("Poor Unfortunate Souls (Reprise)", most of "The Storm", "Eric to the Rescue" among others).
  • The French horn is used to symbolize King Triton (listen to "Destruction of the Grotto"), the oboe is used to symbolize Prince Eric (the beginning of "The Storm", as well as "Happy Ending" when Ariel is looking at Eric on the shore). Usually the brass section represents Ursula and the flute almost always portrays Ariel's vocal aria. Clarinets represent Scuttle.
  • Synthesizers and electric pianos are used quite often in the orchestration (namely for the songs, like "Part of Your World"), but the grand piano is almost never used.
  • Scuttle's leitmotif can be heard in the beginning of "Wedding Announcement", the scene after Ariel becomes a human and was the basis for "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" in the 2007 broadway production. This theme is used as a variation for the music when the animals are stopping Vanessa's wedding.
  • Ursula's leitmotif is most obvious in the track "Flotsam and Jetsam" but it comes from the melody notes for the chorus of "Poor Unfortunate Souls". This theme is also used while Ariel is being transformed, and it is played fast and supported by a harsh brass section.

Chart positions[edit]

Year(s) Chart Peak
1989 US Billboard 200[12] 32
1991 Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[13] 25
2006, 2012 US Top Soundtracks (Billboard)[12] 4
Preceded by
The Milagro Beanfield War
Academy Award for Best Original Score
Succeeded by
Dances with Wolves
Preceded by
Gorillas in the Mist
Golden Globe for Best Original Score
Succeeded by
The Sheltering Sky

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CD and cassette tape reference:
  2. ^ "Music Behind Magic: Menken / Ashman / Rice". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  3. ^ a b "Music Behind Magic: Menken / Ashman / Rice: Track Listings". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  4. ^ "The Little Mermaid: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "The Little Mermaid & Little Mermaid II (Special Edition Double Pack)". Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Little Mermaid: Alan Menken, J.A.C. Redford, Ashley Tisdale, Daughters of Triton, Jessica Simpson, Jodi Benson, Jonas Brothers, Pat Carroll, Raven-Symoné, Rene Auberjonois, Samuel Wright, Ship's Chorus: Music". Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  7. ^ Hobart, Tavia. "The Little Mermaid [Original Soundtrack] - Alan Menken". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  8. ^ "The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken)". Filmtracks. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  9. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  10. ^ Dedina, Nick (2010-06-15). "10 Essential Disney & Pixar Soundtracks - Rhapsody: The Mix". Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  11. ^ "The Little Mermaid: Music". Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  12. ^ a b The Little Mermaid (Original Soundtrack) - Alan Menken - Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.
  13. ^ "Soundtrack / Alan Menken – The Little Mermaid". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 9, 2013.