Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1989 classic ‘The Little Mermaid’ has gained major attention around the world for all the right reasons. On top of being able to re-live our favorite childhood memories as live play, we also get to witness some of the iconic songs come back to life. In this article, we go back to the fan-favorite “Under the Sea” track.
“Under the Sea” was originally performed by Samuel E. Wright, an American theatre actor and singer. He also voiced the character of Sebastian, Ariel’s sidekick through her adventures.
In the context of the movie, “Under the Sea” is performed by Sebastian to warn Ariel of the dangers of the world above the sea–land. As a sea-faring crab and the wise advisor to Triton, the king of the Seven Seas, Sebastian knows a thing or two about the world of humans. He warns Ariel that fish are some of human’s favorite meals. Despite all Sebastian’s efforts and singing, Ariel decides to continue her journey to the human world.
“Under the Sea” won an Oscar Award for ‘Best Original Song’ in 1989, and it also secured a Grammy Award for ‘Best Song Written for Visual Media’ in 1991. The song has been covered by numerous artists since, notably by Shaggy, and Daveed Diggs for the 2023 remake.
Listen to “Under the Sea” by Samuel E. Wright from The Little Mermaid Soundtrack
“Under the Sea” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Sebastian, being the loyal right-hand to King Triton, desperately tries to prevent Ariel from leaving the safety and comfort of the ocean world.
He starts off with a classic;
“The seaweed is always greener
In somebody else’s lake”
This is a play on the classic phrase ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ This means that we usually tend to see the best of things we don’t have. It could be a job, car, home, garden, or anything else. This alludes to the human nature that we are almost never satisfied with what we have right now. Guess, this is common to mermaids as well?!
Sebastian explains how beautiful the world under the sea is. There is plenty of space to roam around, beautiful fish, aquatic plants, magnificent structures of corals, and endless sandy ocean beds.
The chorus of the song is as iconic as the movie itself. Sebastian contrasts life under and above the sea. While everybody is wetter and floaty under the sea, the land dwellers work all day in the scorching sun.
In the second verse, Sebastian gets a little more realistic–maybe even a little too realistic for Disney and children. Under the sea, the fishes are happy and live. Above the sea, the fish are either in fish tanks or on a plate being served as food to someone. Even worse is the idea that Sebastian thinks that the same pet fish someday will turn into food as well.
Even in the second chorus of the song, Sebastian has no chill. He continues to implore the idea that fish under the sea are happy, and most importantly, alive. Since the land folk love to cook, they see sea creatures as nothing but food.
Watch Shaggy Perform “Under the Sea” Live
Despite all Sebastian’s efforts and examples of how dangerous the above world is, Ariel is a stubborn little mermaid and decides to continue her adventure. Hard to say that Sebastian gets proven wrong in the movie, but of course, it has the Disney touch. Everything turns out for the better in the end and the sea-dwellers and land-dwellers find peace after Ariel and Eric (land prince) fall in love.
Let us hear your favorite memories from The Little Mermaid or this song in the comments below. Read the complete lyrics to the song on Genius.