“Part of Your World” is a type of song that can be found in many Disney films. This is the song you hear when the hero/heroine laments how unhappy they are with their lives and how they wish things could be different. Similar songs include “Out There,” “Go the Distance,” “How Far I’ll Go,” and “When Will My Life Begin?” Actually it was “Part of Your World” that started the tradition of heroes/heroines expressing their desires early in the film (although I do feel like Aurora’s “I Wonder” is this type of song as well and that song pre-dates The Little Mermaid by 30 years).
In this song, Ariel is going over her beloved collection of human artifacts and wishing that she could go be with the humans on the surface. Unknown to Ariel and Flounder, Sebastian overhears the entire song, which is a big problem since he could tell King Triton about Ariel’s fascination with human items (which isn’t allowed).
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?
Look at this trove, treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Looking around here, you’d think
Sure, she’s got everything
I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got whooz-its and whats-its galore
You want thing-a-mabobs? I’ve got twenty
But who cares? No big deal. I want more!
I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see ’em dancin’
Walkin’ around on those…
What do you call ’em? Oh, feet
Flippin’ your fins you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumpin’, dancin’
Strolling along down the…
What’s that word again? Street
Up where they walk
Up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
wish I could be
part of that world
What would I give
if I could live
outta these waters?
What would I pay
to spend a day
warm on the sand?
Betcha on land
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters
Bright young women,
sick of swimmin’
ready to stand
And I’m ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions and get some answers
What’s a fire and why does it…
What’s the word? Burn?
When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love,
love to explore that shore up above?
Out of the sea,
wish I could be
part of that world
The song does reveal a bit of naïveté on Ariel’s part (I draw your attention back to the line “Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters”). Ariel seems to be under the impression that if she lived on land with the humans then she would be free to do as she pleased (as opposed to living under the sea forced to abide by her father’s rules). It’s a nice thought, but it’s hardly accurate (note that Ursula doesn’t do too much to dispel Ariel’s romanticized notions of surface life either in “Poor Unfortunate Souls”). It’s also fascinating to see what Ariel has in her grotto as I’m pretty sure books and paintings would not long survive exposure to sea water (however it is a Disney movie so things like this just happen).
Believe it or not, “Part of Your World” almost didn’t make it into the final cut of the film. Jeffrey Katzenberg, then head of Disney, thought the song was boring and that it would go over the heads of children. Fortunately, Glen Keane and Howard Ashman fought to keep the song included and won. Another interesting piece of trivia: that shot of Ariel reaching through the hole at the top of the grotto was the very last shot to be completed and it took four tries to get it right. And to record this song, Jodi Benson actually sang in the dark to get a proper feeling of being “under the sea.”
What do you think of “Part of Your World”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!
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