Published on June 24, 2016
Under the Sea” is a song from Disney’s 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman and based on the song “The Beautiful Briny” from the 1971 film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It is influenced by the Calypso style of the Caribbean which originated in Trinidad and Tobago. The song was performed in the film by Samuel E. Wright. The track won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1989, as well as the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media in 1991.
The song is a plea by the crab Sebastian imploring Ariel to remain sea-bound, and resist her desire to become a human in order to spend her life with Prince Eric, with whom she has fallen in love. Sebastian warns of the struggles of human life while at the same time expounding the benefits of a care-free life underwater. However, his plea falls on deaf ears, for Ariel leaves before the end of the song.
In 2002, the song was featured in the Square Enix action RPG Kingdom Hearts as the background music for the Atlantica world. In 2006, the song also appeared in Kingdom Hearts II as part of a minigame where it was rearranged to have parts for Sebastian, Ariel, and Sora. For both appearances, the music was arranged by Yoko Shimomura.
In 2007, the Broadway musical version used this as the featured production number, with the role of Sebastian played by Tituss Burgess. For Burgess, a tenor (unlike the baritone Wright), the key of the song was raised from B-flat to D. In the Original Broadway Cast, the placing of the song was also moved to after the scene in which King Triton destroys Ariel’s collection of “human stuff.” Later in some local productions after the Broadway production closed, the placing of the song is the same as it was in the original film.