Part of Your World

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"Part of Your World"
Song by Jodi Benson
from the album The Little Mermaid: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
Released December 13, 1989
Recorded August 16, 1989
Length 3:16
Label Walt Disney
  • Howard Ashman
  • Alan Menken
The Little Mermaid: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack track listing
"Daughters of Triton"
"Part of Your World"
"Under the Sea"

"Part of Your World" is a song written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken for Walt Disney Pictures' 28th animated feature film The Little Mermaid (1989). Performed by American actress and singer Jodi Benson in her starring role as Ariel, a mermaid princess, "Part of Your World" is a Broadway musical-style power ballad in which the character expresses her strong desire to become human. The song is later reprised by Ariel after she rescues Prince Eric from drowning during a shipwreck.

Directors and writers Ron Clements and John Musker initially asked Ashman to write a song for Ariel in which she expresses her romantic feelings for Eric, but Ashman felt that a song detailing the character's strong fascination with the human world instead would better serve the film. Ashman recruited stage actress Benson to record "Part of Your World" (and eventually voice Ariel) after having worked with her in the Broadway musical Smile (1986). After children grew restless during "Part of Your World" while attending a test screening of The Little Mermaid, studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered that the song be cut from the film but several filmmakers, including Clements and Musker, Ashman and animator Glen Keane, convinced him that the song is essential to the film and it was ultimately kept.

The song has garnered widespread acclaim from both film and music critics who unanimously praised Ashman and Menken's songwriting, as well as Benson's vocal performance. Several media publications agree that "Part of Your World" is one of the greatest Disney songs ever written, consistently placing it high when ranking the best Disney songs. "Part of Your World" is believed to be responsible for making the use of "I Want" songs standard in future animated musical films. Critics have offered various interpretations of the song's lyrics, ranging from teenage rebellion and seeking independence from overprotective parents to feminism to LGBT rights. In addition to being considered Benson's signature song which she continues to perform live, "Part of Your World" has been covered extensively by numerous artists of different genres, including Jessica Simpson, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessie J and Sara Bareilles. Actress Sierra Boggess performed the song in the Broadway musical adaptation of the film, for which she originated the role of Ariel.

Writing and recording[edit]

Written in 1986,[1] "Part of Your World" was the first song lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken wrote for The Little Mermaid,[2] although Menken had not yet been enlisted as Ashman's composer when he first conceived the song.[1] Directly inspired by some of history's most popular Broadway musicals,[3] Ashman believed that The Little Mermaid would benefit from at least one song that would serve as the heroine's "inner diary of thoughts".[4] Having always intended for Ariel to perform a song in her grotto,[1] directors and writers Ron Clements and John Musker originally asked Ashman to write a song in which Ariel declares her love for Prince Eric in the form of a human statue,[5] but Ashman suggested that a song depicting the character's fascination with the human world would be a stronger selection.[2] Ashman explained to the filmmakers that "Part of Your World" would be Ariel's "I Want" song, likening it to moments in Broadway musicals during which the heroine sings about her she dreams so that the audience can finally begin to care about the character and her journey.[6] Menken believes that Disney had not included explicit "I Want" songs in the studio's musical films prior to The Little Mermaid,[7] making "Part of Your World" the first time an "I Want" song had intentionally been written for a Disney film,[8] although Disney princesses had technically been singing "I Want" songs since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950).[9][10] Observing structural similarities between the song and "Somewhere That's Green" from their off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, the songwriters nicknamed "Part of Your World" "Somewhere That's Wet" because they believe it resembles an underwater version of the Little Shop of Horrors song.[7][11] In the both songs, the protagonists sing about wanting "something more".[5] Menken identified the motif he composed for the beginning of the piece as his favorite part of the song.[7]  Ashman debuted the completed "Part of Your World" for Clements and Musker at his Greenwich Village apartment.[2] Only their second time meeting Ashman and first time meeting Menken, Menken provided the piano accompaniment while Ashman sang Ariel's part himself instead of their usual method in which Menken provided lead vocals.[1] Moved by Ashman's demonstration, Musker recalled that the lyricist gazed up at the ceiling as he "became Ariel before our eyes" and "poured out his heart in song" as though it were the human world itself, helping them visualize "this far-off place of wonder that so entranced this little mermaid.”[2]

Clements and Musker enjoyed the song but would disagree with Ashman over the song's lyrics, which Ashman insisted be very specific.[1] Musker specifically wanted to change the line "I wanna be where the people are" because he felt that it sounded too political and reminded him of Governor of Illinois Dan Walker, suggesting that "the" be removed.[1] Appalled by the suggestion, Ashman insisted that the line remain the same to avoid having to hold the word "where" longer; Musker would eventually admit that his suggestion was "idiotic".[1] Although Ashman was very defensive about the song's lyrics and typically dismissed the directors' suggestions, he agreed to revise his lyrics, which originally described Ariel's grotto using eloquent terms such as "fine china" and "books bound in leather and gold", and replace them with words that would be more familiar to a mermaid upon being reminded that the character learns most of her human-related information from Scuttle, a misinformed seagull.[1] Ashman's revision integrated funnier lyrics such as "thingamabobs” and “whozits and whatzits galore" into the song, making "Part of Your World" more consistent with the film's tone.[1] Ashman initially pitched Ariel's reprise of "Part of Your World" as a sad lament, performing "I’ll never be…part of that world".[1] Clements and Musker suggested that the reprise should instead convey Ariel's determined nature as she pursues her dreams that she will someday be with Eric.[1] Howard agreed to rewrite the reprise into a more positive anthem that reads "I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know something’s starting right now…Watch and you’ll see…someday I’ll be…part of your world…", providing the film with "more forward momentum" while establishing conflict between Ariel and her father King Triton.[1] Ashman's willingness to reconsider both versions of the song's lyrics surprised the directors.[1]

The directors felt it imperative that both Ariel's speaking and singing voices be provided by the same actress.[12] Ashman first met American actress and singer Jodi Benson while directing the Broadway musical Smile.[13][14] After the production closed after only six weeks,[15] Ashman invited Smile's entire female cast to audition for The Little Mermaid using the song "Part of Your World", although he did not tell them exactly what they were auditioning for.[16] Ashman mailed a copy of his demo of "Part of Your World" to Benson, to which she listened in preparation for her audition.[17] Benson then recorded a brief sample of the song on a reel-to-reel tape, which she mailed back to Disney.[17] All audition tapes were left unmarked so that the candidates would remain anonymous to Musker and Clements, delighting Ashman when the directors ultimately selected Benson's recording as the voice of Ariel.[17] Benson was not informed that she had been cast until one year after she had auditioned,[16] by which time she had nearly forgotten about the role.[18] Her first voice role for which she carefully had to learn how to project into the studio microphone,[19] Benson found the process of recording "Part of Your World" somewhat difficult after Ashman instructed her to approach it as though she were reciting a monologue as opposed to singing a song,[17] although she found Ashman telling her exactly how he wanted her to perform lyrics helpful.[18] Ashman remained in the recording booth with Benson during the entire recording process, standing on her left side and guiding her on performing the song with intensity as opposed to belting it and whispering lines to her as she sang them.[18] It was rare for a filmmaker to direct a performer from inside the booth, and Ashman had to move carefully to provent the microphone from picking up his gestures.[20] Benson requested that the studio's lights be dimmed to simulate the impression of being underwater.[21] Reviewing video footage of Benson in the recording studio with Ashman, Bustle contributor Emma Lord observed that Benson initially "has yet to capture the tomboyish-ness and yearning she eventually puts into the character" and song.[22] Benson is not shy about crediting Ashman with benefiting her entire performance.[18] Menken and Ashman deliberately selected segments of Benson's performance that "are not perfectly sung" to include in the final recording, ranging from unsustained notes that are incorrect and lacking vibrato to spoken words, because the songwriters wanted the performance to sound as "real" as possible.[17]

Context and use in The Little Mermaid[edit]

Although Clements and Musker had originally intended to hire animator Glen Keane to animate Ursula due to his history of animating Disney villains,[23] Keane specifically requested that he be allowed to animate Ariel after hearing Benson sing "Part of Your World" for the first time,[6] by whose performance he was captivated.[23] Deciding to make the scene his most important assignment,[24] Keane volunteered to animate the entire "Part of Your World" musical sequence himself,[25] becoming its lead animator.[26] Animating one particular scene to appear as though the camera was rotating around Ariel while she sings "Look at this trove, treasures untold. How many wonders can one cavern hold?" was especially challenging for the animators to perfect without the aid of computer animation, taking them longer to complete.[24] Keane described the song as the moment "the audience starts thinking of Ariel as this real, living thing. A girl who's dreaming of something more. And since so many of us feel just like that ... that's when the audience falls in love with this character."[24]

The scene in which the camera is animated to appear as though it is rotating around Ariel as she sings proved challenging for the animators.

Ashman was aware that writing a ballad capable of captivating young audiences during the "modern era" of animation would be challenging.[27] In an effort to keep children entertained during the scene, Ashman decided that Ariel should own a grotto in which she hides human artifacts she has collected from various shipwrecks.[27] Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg ordered that "Part of Your World" be removed from the film after observing that some children appeared to grow restless during the then-unfinished musical sequence while attending an early test screening of The Little Mermaid.[28] One child in particular spilled his popcorn, prompting Katzenberg to worry that children would find the scene boring.[29] Katzenberg himself was bored by the song and believed that it only slowed the film down in addition to making children restless.[30][5] Nearly everyone involved in the film defended "Part of Your World" and protested Katzenberg's order,[31] with Ashman warning him that the scene could only be removed "over my dead body".[5] Clements and Musker reminded Katzenberg that Disney's first animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, featured a similar song to "Part of Your World" entitled "Someday My Prince Will Come" that ultimately went on to be very successful.[32] The directors also reminded him that MGM executives had initially wanted Judy Garland's song "Over the Rainbow" to be removed from the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) after the film's first preview screening until they reconsidered,[32][31] while Keane argued that the scene is essential to the film's narrative,[9] eventually convincing him to keep the scene in the film at least until the next test screening during which the sequence would be shown fully animated for the first time.[5] Children responded much better towards the song during the second screening,[30] enjoying it to the point of which they mimed some of the lyrics.[4] "Part of Your World" was one of the songs that was applauded during the screening,[33] moving some older audience membes to tears.[5] The song was ultimately spared,[26] and Katzenberg would eventually admit that he is now feels embarrassed that he had ever wanted to cut "Part of Your World".[34]

Set prior to most of the film's action, "Part of Your World" is the second song in The Little Mermaid,[35] taking place in her grotto before she meets Eric.[36][37] A character song,[38] "Part of Your World" appears in the film as a monologue performed by Ariel,[17] in which she expresses her desire to become part of the human world while reveling in her expansive collection of human items and artifacts.[1][4][39] Singing about longing to explore the human world while learning everything she can about it,[36] Ariel performs the ballad while gazing up longingly at the human world, wishing that she could become human herself and live among its people.[4] "Part of Your World" reveals that Ariel feels repressed[35] and unhappy in her current environment despite her belongings and royal lineage, "want[ing] to be a part of something else."[40][41] A painting of a woman studying a fire and a wind up toy featuring a woman dancing shows that Ariel would rather be like those women.[42] The character sings "What’s a fire and why does it ... What’s the word? Burn!” while studying a painting of a woman looking at a lamp, which is a real life painting by Georges de La Tour called Magdalene with the Smoking Flame.[43] Ariel's craving for adventure makes it difficult for the character to enjoy her current surroundings while there is so much left for her to explore, growing increasingly despondent;[44] the only thing that could make her truly happy is "change", something non-physical that can not be purchased or stolen.[41] On the contrary, the Chicago Tribune's Dave Kehr described the scene and Ariel's longing for "more" as "one of the film`s most bluntly materialistic moments".[39] Crystal Bell of MTV wrote that the ballad "gives Ariel a purpose, reveals her deepest desire — to be where the people are — and shows us a glimpse of her strengths, vulnerabilities, and individual quirks",[9] while establishing Ariel as an outsider.[45] Writing for The Atlantic, Akash Nikolas agreed that as the film's "I Want" song, "Part of Your World" follows Disney's trend of establishing the main character as an outcast "set apart from society by some innate desire" as Ariel literally longs to be belong to a different world.[46] The New York Daily News film critic Kathleen Carroll referred to the character as "the equivalent of a Broadway ingenue" due to her "typically plaintive solo".[47]  The Animated Movie Guide author Jerry Beck wrote that the song "capture's Ariel's yearning so intensely that when she extends her hand toward the surface we long to reach out with her",[48] ending with Ariel gesturing while sighing longingly and descending back down to the ocean floor.[5] The entire film is defined around this song.[3] As "the heart and centre of the score," instrumental versions of "Part of Your World" can be heard throughout the film score in the form of a leitmotif, intertwined within the film's orchestral score throughout.[5] Although the theme belongs to Ariel, it is manipulated throughout the film to various affects for other characters as well that range from melancholic to sinister.[5] The film's main title is a choral arrangement of the song, performed without lyrics.[49] Eric constantly plays the melody on his flue to indicate that he is haunted by the memory of the girl who rescued him, a distorted version plays while Triton destroys Ariel's grotto, and a brass arrangement of the song is heard while Ursula is transforming into a human to trick Eric into marrying her.[5]

Film critic Theresa Basile identified "Part of Your World" as a song that belongs to an adventurer who wants to explore new environments.[50] Zaron Burnett III, writing for Thought Catalog, described it as a ballad in which "a curious young woman ... who doesn’t fully understand the world she longs to be a part of, bravely dreams of how she can move into a new world, and reject the limitations of her father’s world (read: patriarchy)", labeling Ariel "a young feminist."[51] Comparing "Part of Your World" to "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella, Entertainment Weekly contributor Esther Zuckerman observed that the song shows "just how Ariel differed from" preceding Disney princesses.[6] While "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" is a passive song written in the third person, Ariel's number "is brimming with agency", demonstrating the character's longing for knowledge.[6] Zuckerman credits Ashman's lyrics with providing Ariel with a personality, something she believes Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty (1959) did not have,[6] while giving Ariel a motive that is not romance-oriented.[52] Additionally, unlike the three princesses who came before her, "Part of Your World" is delivered directly to the camera as opposed to an audience of woodland creatures, speaking directly to young girls who watch the scene.[38] The theme of "Part of Your World" and the fact that it occurs before she meets and falls in love with Eric is often used to defend Ariel against feminist critics who accuse her of sacrificing her talents solely to be with a man.[38][51][53][36] Boing Boing's Caroline Siede explained that Ariel "just happens to end up with a prince in the process of achieving her larger dream" of becoming human.[52] Similarly, Sophie Katz of The Odyssey Online wrote that the song proves that Ariel "doesn’t give up her voice only for a guy. She already wanted to be 'part of that world.' The prince was a bonus."[54] Writing for Yahoo! Movies, Gwynne Watkins penned "There’s little doubt that Ariel’s crush on Prince Eric strengthens her resolve to be part of the human world. But crucially, her love of 'the world above' is established long before she sets eyes on the prince" during "Part of Your World".[38] Laura Stampler, writing for Time, agreed that the character "[fell] in love with the human world before she even knew who Eric was" because "She has always dreamed of being a 'part of your world'".[55] However, Bustle's Mary Grace Garis argue that the character remains unintelligent despite her song "about being 'part of that world' and 'wanting more".[56] Ariel voices the line "Bright young women, sick of swimmin’, ready to stand" to indicate that she fantasizes about "living in a feminist-friendly society where she can speak her mind freely and grow intellectually".[42] Time's Laura Stampler joked that Ariel will find the human world disappointed "considering my dad definitely still reprimanded me (even though I had legs)."[55] In the reprise, the lyrics "Part of that world" are replaced with "part of your world" to distinguish that the character is now referring to her feelings for Eric, whom Ariel had not yet met when she sang the original song.[6]

Music and lyrical interpretation[edit]

Written in the key of F major at a "moderately bright" tempo of 135,[57] "Part of Your World" is a "yearning",[21] downtempo Broadway and musical theatre-influenced power ballad,[58][59] that gradually crescendos into a "showstopping" conclusion, bolstered by Benson's "powerhouse performance".[4] Variety's Andrew Barker summarized "Part of Your World" as "A slow-building, Broadway-style showstopper" that "moves effortlessly from busy, literate verses to a longing pre-chorus and a belted-to-the-rafters refrain",[60] incorporating "dramatic" violins into its instrumentation.[61] Described as a "big ballad", the song combines Ashman's "clever lyrics" about pining for life on land with Menken’s "soaring melody".[49] The "big and boisturous"[62] ballad begins with a musical motif that resembles the sound of flowing water,[7] described by D23 as "tinkling piano keystrokes".[63] Vocally, Benson performs "Part of Your World" using a whispered, "intense" singing voice as opposed to belting,[18] although her vocal performance has been described as "bigger-than-yourself" at the same time,[58] spanning exactly two octaves from C4 to C5.[57] According to Screen Rant's Turner Minton, Benson's vocals "[add] a rawness to the song, giving a depth of eagerness to Ariel’s voice that makes for a genuine performance",[4] by delivering a performance that has been described as a combination of passion, strength,sincerity and innocence.[5][64] Described as "wistful pleas",[65] Bustle's Emma Lord observed that Benson sings the song using a combination of "tomboyish-ness and yearning".[22] Meanwhile, the final line of the song's reprise is performed by Benson with "a bit more oomph" than the original.[52] Musical similarities have been observed between "Part of Your World" and "Somewhere That's Green" from Ashman and Menken's musical Little Shop of Horrors, specifically when the lines "part of your world" and "somewhere that’s green" are sung during their respective songs.[5]

Both the song's music and vocals swell with "passion and longing".[5] Despite its title, the word "your" is not used in the song until its reprise.[66] Beginning "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete? Wouldn't you think I'm the girl/The girl who has everything?",[57][62] "Part of Your World" is "a plea for a life of discovery" and "inquisitiveness" as opposed to love,[67] using "nonsensical expressions" such as "gadgets", "gizmos", "whosits" and "whatsits" to refer to several human objects.[5] Lyrically, the ballad features several "twist[s] and turns",[35] using very specific lyrics to describe the performer's fascination with the human world and desire to walk among them on dry land,[1] including "walking around on those what-do-you-call-them?... feet"[47] and "Up where they walk, up where they run/Up where they stay all day in the sun/Wanderin' free, wish I could be/Part of that world."[32] Comprising "impeccable rhymes" and incorporating the term "thingamabobs"[61] into the line "You want thing-a-ma-bobs? I've got twenty but who cares? No big deal, I want more",[68] "Part of Your World"'s "empowering" lyrics[53] convey several messages such as facing one's fears, believing in oneself,[44] and wishing for a new life and experiences.[35] Bustle's Tracy Dye wrote that in addition to "7 Lessons About Life & Facing Fear", the song also reinforces several concepts, namely the importance of pursuing other opportunities, the belief that "material items don't lead to fulfillment", building new relationships and friendships, exploring new environments, and girl power.[44] BuzzFeed's Aylin Zafar described "Part of Your World" as "an anthem for anyone who has ever felt they were on the outside, looking into a place ... that they yearned to be a part of."[58] The Daily Dot's Aja Romano believes that the song's lyrics mirror "every young girl’s wish to get away from her over-protective parents and explore the world".[69] Donna Dickens of HitFix concurred that the ballad is about "yearning to break free from suffocating parental expectations".[70] Writing for Billboard, Taylor Weatherby identified "Part of Your World" as a ballad about "fantasizing over living a life you can’t," to which many people can relate.[61] Derrick Gill of KXKX wrote that the song also recalls the traditional saying "Is the grass greener on the other side?"[71]

Featuring lyrics that have been described as "multi-layered", "Part of Your World" has been subject to various interpretations that range from an adventurous teenager seeking independence from her overprotective father, to "deeper meaning relating to gender" and longing to belong to "a different kind of society",[41] resulting in an "empowering" sentiment overall.[37] The line "Bet you on land, they understand/Bet they don't reprimand their daughters/Bright young women sick of swimming, ready to stand" has been widely interpreted by several critics as an empowering feminist statement;[72][73][74][42][53][41] Jenny Shelton, writing for Standard Issue Magazine, identified "Part of Your World" as "a protest song" that is both proactive and pro-feminist.[75] Thought Catalog's Zaron Burnett III described the lyrics as "feminist-sounding".[51] One particular critic believes that since "Part of Your World" was released in 1989 during "an uncertain time for women" amidst political and media backlash following the women's movement of the previous decades, the song "could represent the disillusionment of women in this decade – sick of being told to settle with their lot and placate their dreams of true liberation with capitalist consumerism; in the same way that Ariel has been forced to satiate her true desires with meaningless trophies by her father’s patriarchal subjugation."[41] A number of critics have also identified the song's lyrics as an allegory for the LGBT community seeking acceptance and a desire to become a part of a world in which they belong.[46] BuzzFeed's Chris Hernandez wrote that closeted gays "relate to Ariel's longing to be a part of a world that is immensely different than the one she's living in" and "that there is freedom in that world."[40] Writing for KQED, Tony Bravo agreed that "Part of Your World" discusses "The longing that all gay kids feel to belong", explaining that the ballad resembles "an anthem for moving out of a small town to a big city that would let you be the secret inside."[76] Hilary White of PopSugar jokingly dubbed the song a "hoarder's anthem".[29]


"Part of Your World" has garnered critical acclaim from both film and music critics, who continue to praise it constantly.[77] Janet Maslin of The New York Times called "Part of Your World" a "musical bull's-eye".[78] Maslin also described the song as a desired musical number for any Broadway musical.[78] Scott Holleran of Box Office Mojo called the song a "triumphant tune" while calling Benson's performance "breath-taking".[79] Sputnikmusic wrote similarly of Benson's performance, describing it as both "breath-taking" and "brilliant".[80] Filmtracks described "Part of Your World" as a "gorgeous ballad", accrediting it with "setting the table" for subsequent songs performed by Disney heroines, such as Beauty and the Beast's "Belle".[81] Filmtracks also praised Benson's vocal performance, describing it as "tender enough to be believable in the role while also accurately resonating at the necessary high ranges."[81] The New York Daily News' Kathleen Carroll hailed Benson's voice as "exceptionally lovely".[47] Contributing to The Morton Report, Chaz Lipp agreed that Benson's performance is "positively charming".[82]

Tracy Dye of Bustle identified "Part of Your World" as "my favorite Disney song of all time."[44] Entertainment Weekly's Esther Zuckerman described "Part of Your World" as "a perfect 'I Want' song," comparing it positively to “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from the musical My Fair Lady.[6]

Upon release of The Little Mermaid, Disney was unprepared for the success of both the soundtrack and its songs, particularly that of "Part of Your World" which instantly became a hit.[83] The studio had not bothered to prepare a single version of the ballad at the time of the film's release because they did not anticipate the song would be demanded by radio stations.[83] To some extent, the success of "Part of Your World" has been overshadowed by the two other well-known songs from the film, "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl".[82] While both "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 62nd Academy Awards, which "Under the Sea" eventually won, "Part of Your World" did not receive a nomination, which Digital Spy's Mayer Nissim labeled a snub.[84] Benson believes that the reason the Academy did not acknowledge "Part of Your World" is because "a story song at the time was probably not recognised really as much, a monologue song."[84] In October 2013, Disney released a digitally remastered Diamond Edition of The Little Mermaid on Blu-ray/DVD. Some fans noticed that an error had occurred during the remastering process that resulted in two segments from the "Part of Your World" sequence to play in reversed order,[85][86] appearing in the opposite order of how they appeared in the original film.[87] Specifically, Flounder is shown sighing while Ariel is singing,[85] whose lips are later shown to be out of sync with the words she is singing in the following scene for a few seconds.[82] Some videos comparing the errors side-by-side have been uploaded to YouTube.[82] The edits upset some purist fans who demanded that Disney recall the modified DVDs.[82] While acknowledging that a "minor oversight" did result in the switch of two scenes during the "Part of Your World" sequence, Disney assured fans that "There is no impact on the quality or overall experience of the film",[88] and eventually allowed owners of the defective discs to contact them for a free replacement.[85][88]

Live performances and stage versions[edit]

Benson regularly performs "Part of Your World" live in concert all around the world,[18] and continues to reminisce about the day she first recorded the song with Ashman directing her in the recording studio whenever she performs it,[89] elaborating, "I can hear him singing it in my ear, I can hear him directing it every step of the way."[17] Benson sang "Part of Your World" at the The Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade in 1995.[90]

"Part of Your World" is featured in the Broadway musical adaptation of The Little Mermaid, which opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on January 10, 2008[91] and closed on August 30, 2009.[91] The song, originally performed by Jodi Benson, was first performed on Broadway by actress Sierra Boggess, who originated the stage role of Ariel.[92][93] Boggess was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance.[92][93]

From June 3 to 4, 2016, singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles performed "Part of Your World" while starring as Ariel in a live concert adaptation of The Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl.[94] According to Yvonne Villarreal of the Los Angeles Times, Bareilles' rendition "drew echoes from the crowd singing with the same power from their seats."[95] At the end of both evenings' performances, Benson herself made a surprise guest appearance to reprise "Part of Your World", which the audience greeted with rapturous applause.[96] Introduced to the stage by Bareilles, the two singers hugged before Benson began her performance, wearing a sparkling blue mermaid-cut gown inspired by Ariel.[97][98] Benson's performance was rewarded with a standing ovation from the audience,[98] moving her to tears.[97] Variety's Jenelle Riley described Benson's rendition as "captivating",[99] while Ethan Anderton of Slash Film was impressed that the actress "still has some incredible pipes" despite being 54 years old at the time.[100] Emily Rome, writing for Uproxx, observed that the singer alternated between "Ariel”s teen voice" and "her own beautiful soprano".[97] On June 6, 2016, Benson replaced Bareilles entirely to reprise her role as Ariel for the concert's third and final performance, performing "Part of Your World" once again,[96] while Bareilles was attending the Tony Awards in New York.[97] "Part of Your World" was the first cover actor and singer Darren Criss, who appeared in the show opposite Bareilles and Benson as Prince Eric, uploaded to YouTube in 2007 prior to landing his breakout role on the musical television series Glee.[96]

Cover versions[edit]

Carly Rae Jepsen is one of many artists who covered the song.

Over the years "Part of Your World" continues to be covered extensively by various recording artists.[17] Although Benson has never been overprotective when it comes to other artists covering or performing the song,[17] she admitted "I think some of the covers were not necessarily what I think Howard would have liked",[84] reacting with particular disdain towards "dance versions" of the song.[17]

  • Jessica Simpson covered this song for DisneyMania in 2002. It would later be heard on the 2006 Platinum Soundtrack of the film.
  • In 2005, the song appeared in Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts II, which featured The Little Mermaid as one of the many Disney movies in the game. Other songs from the movie were featured.
  • In 2007, actor and singer Darren Criss uploaded a cover of "Part of Your World" to YouTube.[96]
  • In 2008, Blind Ferret Entertainment recorded a version of the song for the fan-based animation feature Looking for Group, with alternative lyrics.
  • Lara Akal covered the solo at Carnegie Hall in July 2016[101] at the My Carnegie Moment event[102] in promotion for the Paramount Pictures film Florence Foster Jenkins.
  • Jessie J covered this song for the We Love Disney compilation album in October 2015. The album charted at number 8 on the US Billboard Top 200.
  • Anna Maria Perez de Tagle covered the song for Disneymania 7.
  • Japanese singer May J. covered the song on her cover album May J. Sings Disney, released November 2015.[103]
  • Country singer Faith Hill recorded a cover of "Part of Your World" for the country music-themed compilation album The Best of Country Sing the Best of Disney, released in 1996.[104] German opera singer Diana Damrau covered "Part of Your World" in her native language ("Ein Mensch zu sein") for her album Forever (2013).[105] Writing for Opera News, Judith Malafronte dismissed Damrau's rendition as one of the album's "near-misses", accusing her of sounding too "syrupy" and "brassy" on the song.[106] However, Gramophone's Adrian Edwards enjoyed Jason Carr's musical arrangement.[107] In 2013, Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen covered the song for The Little Mermaid's Diamond Edition, the release of which was accompanied by a music video.[84] Buyers of the DVD were provided with a download code to download Jepsen's cover for free.[82] Praising both the singer's interpretation and music video, Benson preferred Jepson's rendition over previous covers because "they were able to direct it the way Howard would have liked it" by "focus[ing] more on telling the story".[84] The Morton Report's Chaz Lipp panned both the cover and music video as "bland".[82] In 2015, actors Josh Gad, Jussie Smollet and Craig T. Nelson briefly performed "Part of Your World" during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.[44] In 2016, singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles performed an impromptu rendition of "Part of Your World" live at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre to entertain audiences while waiting for a production of her Broadway musical Waitress, for to recover from a technical malfunction involving a set piece.[108] The performance was humorous and interactive,[109] with Bareilles inviting the initially confused audience members to sing along.[110] Bareilles would eventually perform the same song in a concert adaptation of The Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl, in which she had been cast as Ariel.[111] To commemorate the film's 25th anniversary in 2014, Billboard published a list of the website's "Favorite 'Part Of Your World' Covers".[112]


Considered to be a "classic" Disney song,[87][5] "Part of Your World" has since established itself as both The Little Mermaid's hallmark song and signature ballad.[58][76][5] Believed to be responsible for introducing "Disney's Broadway age",[113] the song is also credited with making the "I Want" song a popular staple of future animated Disney musicals,[8] at the same time introducing audiences to a period known as the Disney Renaissance.[3] "Part of Your World" is also considered to be Benson's signature song,[17] of which she claims she has yet to grow tired of singing.[18] HitFix contributor Donna Dickens credits much of the film's success with Benson's vocal performance.[70] Time selected "Part of Your World" as one of the Disney Renaissance's most iconic film moments, writing, "If you are a female-identified child of the ‘90s, chances are good that you have belted this song into your hairbrush or showerhead on more than one occasion."[114] Billboard's Erin Strecker agreed that "every single child has sung ['Part of Your World'] into a hairbrush".[112] Yahoo! Movies contributor Gwynne Watkins deemed the song "one of Disney’s all-time greatest character songs".[38] In 2010, Entertainment Weekly's Christian Blauvelt dubbed "Part of Your World" "the stuff high school glee clubs are made of".[115] Amy Valm of Today's Parent believes that "Part of Your World" resonated particularly strongly among millennials, crediting its lyrics with teaching them the word "reprimand".[59]

Den of Geek placed both "Part of Your World" and its reprise at number one on the website's ranking of "The Top 25 Best Disney Songs from the Renaissance Era", with author David Crow referring to it as "the heart and soul of The Little Mermaid" that "defined the Disney formula to come."[3] Mic also ranked the song first, with author Jordan Appugliesi calling it "everything Disney fans want and need."[62] BuzzFeed ranked "Part of Your World" second on the website's "Definitive Ranking Of The 102 Best Animated Disney Songs".[58] M Magazine concurred, ranking the song second and highlighting "You want thing-a-ma-bobs? I've got twenty but who cares? No big deal, I want more" as its favorite lyric.[68] Variety agreed that "Part of Your World" is the second "Best Disney Song of All Time", dubbing it Ashman and Menken's "most flawlessly constructed [Disney] composition",[60] while Screen Rant placed the song at number six.[4] Billboard considers "Part of Your World" to be the Disney Renaissance's eighth best song, with contributor Taylor Weatherby crediting its lyrics with inspiring an entire generation to use the term "thingamabob".[61] In 2017, Bust published an article entitled "9 Mermaid-Inspired Thingamabobs To Make Part Of Your World" in honor of the lyric.[116] Ranking the ballad the ninth greatest Disney song, IGN's Lucy O'brien wrote that "Part of Your World" "has since become a shower-staple for girls the world over, with particular emphasis given to 'bet they don’t…REPRIMAND their daughters,' universally."[113] Awarding the song the same placement, HitFix's Donna Dickens wrote that the song "spoke to everyone from six to ninety-six" with Ariel becoming "the stand-in for every child who ever felt like an outsider, every teen navigating the waters of becoming an adult, every parent struggling to remember the urgency of adolescence" and "every human who ever burned to do more than exist in a mundane town" during the song.[70] ET Canada placed the song at number 11 on their list of "The Top 12 Disney Songs Of All Time", joking, "Singing to a fork has never been so memorable".[117]

"Part of Your World" is also considered to be among Disney's best "I Want" songs, credited with initiating the trend of Disney heroines singing about wanting more from their lives.[65] On MTV's ranking of "Disney's 'I Want' Songs from Worst to Best", "Part of Your World" was placed at number one.[9] agreed with MTV's placement of the song, writing "There’s no question that ... 'Part of Your World' is Disney’s greatest 'I Want' song", additionally crediting it with the success of “Let It Go” from Disney's Frozen (2013).[28] Boing Boing also ranked "Part of Your World" first on the website's countdown of "All of Disney’s 'I Want' songs, ranked", with author Caroline Siede extolling it as "potentially one of the best ['I Want' songs] in musical theater as a whole."[52] Siede also wrote that the song's only competition is its own reprise.[52] The ballad was also ranked first The Odyssey Online's "Top 11 Disney 'I Want' Songs".[54] The Daily Dot ranked "Part of Your World" the third greatest Disney "I Want" song, believing that Ashman and Menken should have won the Academy Award for this song instead of "Under the Sea".[69] Author Aja Romano credits the song with making princess characters "relevant again" by introducing "a girl with something to fight for instead of vague wishes about princes."[69]

"Part of Your World" is considered to be a feminist anthem by some.[74] "Part of Your World" is also regarded as a gay anthem,[40][46][76] with The Guardian's Guy Lodge dubbing it "something of an all-purpose anthem for LGBT not-belongers."[118] An instrumental version of the song is heard in the film Enchanted (2007) during the scene in which Giselle (Amy Adams) examines the aquarium in Robert's (Patrick Dempsey) office.[119] Benson also appears in the film as Robert's secretary.[119]'s Tyler Coates believes that the song directly influenced "Let it Go", writing, "While the composition of 'Let It Go' and 'Part of Your World' are very different ... it’s not too far-fetched to surmise that the former would not exist if it were not for the latter."[35] Video footage showing Ashman coaching Benson during one of the earliest recording sessions for "Part of Your World" continues to garner attention on the internet.[22][120]


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External links[edit]