Halle Bailey's Ariel sings atop a rock in the ocean in the live-action The Little Mermaid.

Certified Ariel Girlie™ Ranking of All the Songs in the Live-Action ‘The Little Mermaid’

It was bound to happen sooner rather than later.

The newest Disney live-action remake has finally hit cinemas, and the consensus is very much headed in the direction of declaring The Little Mermaid one of the best ones yet.

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Much of it is due to the members of the cast, who truly bring these characters to life. Halle Bailey in particular is so much Ariel that I have absolutely no trouble believing the movie’s producers who said that she set the bar even before the real audition process began. 

And another pretty fundamental element to the movie’s success is the music—it was iconic in the original animated film, and it’s still iconic now. The soundtrack for this 2023 version of The Little Mermaid was actually released days before the movie’s opening night, and I personally had it all in my Spotify recent searches well before I sat myself down in my local cinema.

So that—and having been a certified Ariel stan for pretty much forever—makes me perfectly qualified to compile this ranking of all the songs in the live-action The Little Mermaid, both the renditions of the ones that were already there in 1989 and of the ones added specifically for this film.

11. “The Scuttlebutt”

I think no one is surprised to see one of the film’s new songs, “The Scuttlebutt,” sitting in the last position of this ranking. The song plays when Scuttle (played by Awkwafina) gives Ariel and Daveed Diggs’ Sebastian the news that Jonah Hauer-King’s Prince Eric—more on him later—is going to propose. The trio hopes it’s to Ariel, but of course, we all know it’s part of a trick to actually keep her from true love’s kiss. 

The song simply doesn’t really work, not in its pun-filled lyrics or in its rhythm. Maybe it’s down to performance or the fact that it’s a very dragged out, supposedly happy moment that crashes down the second Ariel steps out of her bedroom and sees what’s really going on. The original animated movie made this transition with a piece of the orchestral soundtrack, which I personally think worked better.

Scuttle tries to figure out what's new with Ariel in the new The Little Mermaid live-action remake
It seems like opinions on “The Scuttlebutt” are pretty universal, considering how the song has already achieved meme status on the Internet—and not exactly in a good way. (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

10. “Fathoms Below”

“Fathoms Below” acts as the opening song of the animated movie, with the crew of Prince Eric’s ship singing it as they fish—giving one of the sailors the chance to mention King Triton and his underwater kingdom before the public actually travels there with one lucky fish who manages to escape. 

As someone who was pretty much shaped by Boat Media™ from a very early age, I’ve always liked “Fathoms Below” and its sea-shanty rhythm. It’s not like the version of the song in the live-action adaptation is much different, even though it happens a bit later in the film. Still, it doesn’t really stack up against the much stronger songs on the soundtrack, which is why it sits just shy of last place in this ranking.

9. “Part of Your World (Reprise II)”

I’m actually surprised myself that something sung by Bailey, with her incredible voice, could sit so low in this ranking—especially considering I really do like the second, new reprise of “Part of Your World.” I like that we get to actually hear Ariel being devastated at the prospect of Eric marrying someone else and follow her train of thought as she considers the choices she has made and their consequences. It does a lot to give the character even more depth and make her feel more real in our eyes.

Still, the ranking ultimately hinges on what I think of the rest of the songs, as well. While I do enjoy this short bit of introspection, I like other titles on the soundtrack more—and fear not! There will be plenty of Bailey at the top of this list.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid
This screencap doesn’t come from the exact moment of “Part of Your World (Reprise II) but the point remains that I can’t stand to see her so sad (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

8. “Under the Sea”

“Under the Sea” is one of those classic Disney songs that I think everyone would recognize the tune of. I like Diggs’ rendition of it in the remake, especially with Halle Bailey echoing some of the chorus, even though the lyrics describing the wonders of the musical underwater world kind of clash with the fact that there’s not one single fish playing the lute to be seen onscreen. 

Still, it has never been my favorite Sebastian song—that comes in the spot exactly after this one—and this might also be one of those cases where not growing up in an English-speaking country and watching dubbed Disney movies comes into play. I like the original “Under the Sea,” sure, but nothing comes close to the Italian version of “Under the Sea” for me. That’s just my whole childhood right there.

7. “Kiss the Girl”

Even in the animated version, “Kiss the Girl” has always been my favorite of the songs Sebastian sings, and also one of the most solid romantic ballads to ever come out of the Disney Renaissance. I’m a romantic at heart. What can I say? I like that this new version also features Scuttle and Jacob Tremblay’s Flounder and that it can provide a bit of humor without being overpowering and throwing off the whole vibe of the scene.

With “Kiss the Girl,” I’d say that all the songs from here onward are truly great. It’s just a question of which ones I personally liked more, even though I have to admit that there’s a huge gap between the songs at the top of the list—but we’ll talk about there when we get there.

Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King as Ariel and Eric during the "Kiss the Girl" scene in the 2023 live-action remake of The Little Mermaid
“Kiss the Girl” really is one of the best sequences of the entire movie, in my honest opinion (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

6. “For the First Time”

“For the First Time” is another completely new song introduced in this live-action remake. As the lyrics suggest, it describes Ariel’s very first moments on land, surrounded by the humans she has always wondered about from afar—and it all actually happens inside her head, since she can’t speak, which is a testament to Bailey’s ability to convey emotions with just her eyes and facial expressions. The song is generally lighthearted and humorous, and if it were to remain so for its entirety, I think it would sit lower on this list—but then the turning point happens.

Eric is being called by the members of the castle’s staff that have been tending to Ariel, and she fantasizes about how their first meeting will go. The music soars and then comes to a very sharp stop as she realizes that she can’t say anything to him because of the deal she made. “For the First Time” does a really great job at letting us look a bit deeper into Ariel’s character while also making the stakes of the entire story extremely clear.

5. “Vanessa’s Trick”

“Vanessa’s Trick” has been all over my TikTok For You page, and with good reason. The song is very short and doesn’t actually have the same lyrics that Vanessa (played by Jessica Alexander in the live-action version) sings in the original animated version. It has no lyrics at all, in fact, but the sheer power of Bailey’s voice carries it in the top five of this list. 

It’s truly a treat to listen to and one that is bound to worm its way into everyone’s ears. Plus, it’s nice to actually get a glimpse into a “darker” side of Ariel’s beloved voice, one that we have mostly heard being joyful and curious and wistful so far in the movie.

4. “Poor Unfortunate Souls”

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” is one of the Disney villain songs—one of the best of the best, up there with “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. It’s such an iconic piece of music, and I think that Melissa McCarthy’s rendition of it does very much justice to Pat Carroll’s original while still managing to not sound like a carbon copy.

As you might have noticed from the soundtrack, the 2023 version of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” does not include the whole second verse about Ariel’s “looks and pretty face” and the “importance of body language” (ha!). Still, the power of the song comes through. It sits just shy of the podium for two reasons. One is that one of the new songs has really surprised me and has me rapidly growing obsessed. The second one is, once again, that “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is great, but “La Canzone di Ursula” is everything to me and has been everything to me for pretty much two decades.

Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy as Ariel and Ursula in the "Poor Unfortunate Souls" sequence in the 2023 live-action remake of The Little Mermaid
Very few other Disney villains are as iconic as Ursula, I said what I said (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

3. “Wild Uncharted Waters”

Prince Eric has always been one of my favorite Disney princes, and his live-action version definitely does not disappoint—and neither did his new song, added to the soundtrack to keep with the pretty well-established remake tradition of giving the other part of the main couple their own solo. 

“Wild Uncharted Waters” takes us deeper into Eric’s character, showing us that he’s always been in love with the sea and how Ariel—whom he doesn’t technically know yet—is the perfect personification of that, just like Ariel has always been in love with the human world. Plus, I’m never one to say no to a soaring and sweeping love song, and Jonah Hauer-King really does a great job with it all. 

Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King play Ariel and Eric as they fall in love in the 2023 live-action remake of The Little Mermaid
I also particularly liked how the main musical motif of “Wild Uncharted Waters” got incorporated in the finale, intermixed with “Part of Your World” to truly show Ariel and Eric’s union. Alan Menken, you really did it again (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

2. “Part of Your World”

Among the ranks of Disney classics’ “I Want” songs, “Part of Your World” has always stood out to me. It’s definitely partly due to my own personal preferences, but it’s also objectively one of the best Disney Princess songs out there. We had already had the chance of listening to Bailey perform it live before the movie premiered, but boy oh boy, listening to it in context is truly an experience.

Bailey makes the song even more wistful that the original Jodi Benson version, if possible, and conveys all of Ariel’s desperate desires for exploring a world that’s so close and yet still out of reach. Her voice carries all the emotional weight of the journey the song takes you on, from the grotto being a place of wonders to ultimately becoming a cage. What a rendition.

1. “Part of Your World (Reprise)”

Sure, “Part of Your World” is iconic and we all know its lyrics by heart, but I would argue that the true Little Mermaid Cinematic Moment™ isn’t Ariel twirling around her grotto—it’s her belting on top of a rock, the sea cresting behind her, as she watches the human world she has just vowed she will indeed manage to become a part of.

The—first, in this movie—reprise of “Part of Your World” hits just as hard in its live-action version as it did in the animated one. When Bailey sings that final note, you can’t help but get shivers. It’s a truly cinematic moment, the real stuff of fairytales, and for that alone, it deserves the top spot on my list. 

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


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Author
Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.