By Zsana Hoskins,
Special to the AFRO
Tickets are officially on pre-sale for the upcoming film, “The Little Mermaid.” The live-action reimagining of the 1989 Disney classic is being led by pop star Halle Bailey, who commands attention as Ariel.
The new rendition of the movie has sparked reactions worldwide, as the release of the movie’s most popular song, “Part of Your World” recently went live on the music and podcast streaming platform Spotify.
Kristal Alston, a 19-year-old student at Howard University said she became extremely emotional the first time she heard Bailey singing as Ariel.
“I cried the first time I watched the trailer. Hearing Halle sing the climax of the song brought tears to my eyes,” said Alston. “She brought so much feeling to the song and role. Her voice just embodies the feelings of a Disney princess.”
Jeffery Bass, a 20-year old long-time fan, believes this is Bailey’s strongest performance yet.
“When I first heard Halle’s ‘Part of Your World’ of course I cried. We all know she can sing. Her voice has been very therapeutic for me and it’s nothing like any voice out there right now,” expressed Bass. “I think after this performance the rest of the world will not only realize that she was perfect to play Ariel, but also recognize that she’s a legendary vocalist here to stay.”
The soundtrack for the film, which will be released on May 19, will feature fifteen tracks including three new songs from Lin Manuel Miranda—the mind behind “Hamilton”, “In The Heights” and “Encanto”— and Alan Menken, the composer behind several Disney classics including “Beauty and The Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” and the original “The Little Mermaid.”
Though Bailey’s style on “Part of Your World” has garnered international attention, some were not impressed.
Grace Randolph, a movie critic and host of ‘Beyond The Trailer,’ said she felt Bailey’s version had too many “vocalizations.” Randolph also said that she preferred the original version of the song during a recent livestream via social media.
“They’re putting in some R&B, some vocalizations—which I totally understand to make it Halle’s own. I think that adding that element because of what Halle Bailey represents is important,” said Randolph. “I just don’t want to see it limit the audience. I’m more into the Broadway classical way of singing. I like what they did in the original—I felt that it did sound better.”
Mya Trujillo, a 20-year-old fan, strongly disagreed and specifically felt the need to address critics’ reluctance to have Bailey play such a historic character.
“In my opinion, her voice is absolutely perfect for the role. She’s soft-spoken and has a higher register, but it’s powerful enough to blow people away—just like Jodi Benson’s could,” said Trujillo.
Alston feels similarly about Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel.
“I feel like Halle has really embodied Ariel. From the promo I’ve seen, she’s gotten Ariel’s mannerisms down to a tee. I think her soft spoken personality fits perfectly for the role, so I’m not surprised that she’s nailed this portrayal,” said Alston. “I’ve been a huge fan of Chloe
] Halle since their YouTube days, and I was so ecstatic when I heard about Halle becoming Ariel.”
For many Black viewers Bailey’s selection has a deeper meaning.
Bass expressed the importance of representation for Black children and the Black community overall.
“Growing up as a young black boy, you don’t see many many black characters in a royalty-type role. Seeing a Black Ariel has really healed a lot of our inner-child. Halle’s Ariel is giving hope to so many, because everyone deserves their own happy ending no matter who you are. It means the world,” said Bass.
Trujillo believes this is a step toward embracing diversity.
“My inner child is so ecstatic to see the representation I always desired, especially with an artist that I love so much,” she said. “I know it’s gonna stick with a lot of little Black girls for the rest of their lives- to see a beautiful Black woman with locs portraying an elegant and mystical princess. Halle being in this movie is a step toward dismantling all the harmful stereotypes about Black women we’ve experienced our whole lives.”
Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in the 1989 animated film, even posted a message in support of Bailey’s version of the song via Instagram stating, “so beautiful, much love to you.”
The long-awaited film will finally hit the big screen on May 26.