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"Poor Unfortunate Souls" is the fifth song of Disney's 1989 animated feature, The Little Mermaid. It was written by the Academy-Award winning composer Alan Menken and the late lyricist Howard Ashman, and performed by Pat Carroll as Ursula.

Plot

In a style that combines Broadway theatre with burlesque, Ursula used it to seduce Ariel into trading her voice for the chance to temporarily become human and be with Eric. There was dialogue interruption, in which Ursula told the mermaid about her full plan.

A short melodic reprise of the song was featured later in the original Disney movie being sung by Vanessa, Ursula's alter ego, voiced by Jodi Benson (as she had stolen Ariel's voice). In it, she sang about how she was going to control the ocean and capture Ariel. This reprise was the final song in the film (not counting the finale for "Part of Your World"), and serves as a reprise of "Poor Unfortunate Souls".

Lyrics

Ursula: I admit that in the past I've been a nasty
They weren't kidding when they called me, well, a witch
But you'll find that nowadays
I've mended all my ways
Repented, seen the light, and made a switch (True? Yes.)

And I fortunately know a little magic
It's a talent that I always have possessed
And here lately, please don't laugh,
I use it on behalf
of the miserable, lonely and depressed (pathetic)

Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them? Yes, indeed

Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
They come flocking to my cauldron
Crying "Spells, Ursula, please!"
And I help them? Yes I do

Now it's happened once or twice
Someone couldn't pay the price
And I'm afraid I had to rake 'em 'cross the coals
Yes I've had the odd complaint
But on the whole I've been a saint
to those poor unfortunate souls

[dialogue interruption]

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes, on land it's much preferred
for ladies not to say a word
And after all, dear, what is idle prattle for?

Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can!
But they dote and swoon and fawn
on a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who get's a man!

Come on, you poor unfortunate soul
Go ahead! Make your choice!
I'm a very busy woman, and I haven't got all day
It won't cost much. Just your voice!

You poor unfortunate soul
It's sad but true

If you want to cross the bridge, my sweet, you've got the pay the toll
Take a gulp and take a breath, and go ahead and sign the scroll
Flotsam, Jetsam, now I've got her, boys
The boss is on a roll!
THIS POOR UNFORTUNATE SOUL!

Beluga sevrgua, come winds of the Caspian Sea
Larynxes glossitis ad max Laryngitis la voce to me

Vanessa: What a lovely little bride I'll make,
My dear, I'll look divine!
Things are working out according to my ultimate design!
Soon I'll have that little mermaid,
and the ocean will be mine!

Come on, I know you need a little magic
And magic is my specialty du jour
Don't just stand there looking sick
Would I kid you? Play a trick?
Like I told you, I don't do that anymore

So I think you ought to take my little bargain
Yes, I think you ought to make my little deal
Sure, it's hard to leave your life
But you could be a prince's wife
Why don't you let me take that dream and make it real?

Oh, oh, oh—

Come on, you poor unfortunate soul
Poor child! Poor fish!
Aren't you glad you brought your problem
To a lady you can trust?
Won't you let me grant your wish?

You poor unfortunate soul
Poor sweet! Poor dear!
Aren't you lucky that I'm ready with a potion and a plan?
Aren't you glad you came and asked
If I could help you? And I can
When a mermaid comes to Ursula, she always gets her man

You poor unfortunate soul!

My scheme is working out.
Soon I will rule the sea.
That mermaid and the ocean's realm,
will soon belong to me!

[URSULA]

I admit that in the past I've been a nasty
They weren't kidding when they called me, well, a witch
But you'll find that nowadays
I've mended all my ways
Repented, seen the light, and made a switch
True? Yes.

And I fortunately know a little magic
It's a talent that I always have possessed
And here lately, please don't laugh
I use it on behalf
Of the miserable, the lonely, and depressed
(Pathetic!)

Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them?
Yes, indeed!

Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
They come flocking to my cauldron
Crying, "Spells, Ursula, please!"
And I help them
Yes I do!

Now, it's happened once or twice
Someone couldn't pay the price
And I'm afraid I had to rake 'em 'cross the coals
Yes, I've had the odd complaint
But on the whole I've been a saint
To those poor unfortunate souls

[Spoken Dialogue]

[URSULA]
You'll have your looks... your pretty face... and don't underestimate the power of body language!

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yet on land it's much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all, dear, what is idle prattle for?

Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who gets a man

Come on you poor unfortunate soul
Go ahead!
Make your choice!
I'm a very busy woman
And I haven't got all day
It won't cost much
Just your voice!

You poor unfortunate soul
It's sad, but true
If you want to cross the bridge, my sweet
You've got the pay the toll
Take a gulp and take a breath
Go ahead and sign the scroll!
Flotsam, Jetsam--now I've got her, boys
The boss is on a roll
You poor unfortunate soul!

Beluga, sevruga, come winds of the Caspian Sea...
Larynxes, glaucitis, ad max laryngitis, la voce to me!

Now, sing! Sing your voice over to me!

[ARIEL]
Ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah...

[URSULA]
Sing and keep singing!

[ARIEL]
...ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah....

[URSULA]
Now swim, swim, swim! Swim for your life, human child!
Ha ha ha...

Mascara, tiara
Yea, winds of the tropics appear
Catharsis, lavorious
Et qua manicurus
mutato me here!

KING TRITON
"Ursula!"

URSULA
"Brother darling! You're right on cue."

KING TRITON
"Give Ariel back to me!"

URSULA
"Not on your life!"

It so happens that your daughter signed a contract,

KING TRITON
"No!"

URSULA
Even drew a little heart above the "i"
Is it binding? Goodness, yes!
Unbreakable, unless...

KING TRITON
"Unless?"

URSULA
"There is a little somethin' we could try."

KING TRITON
"Go on."

URSULA
Yes,
Perhaps we can arrange a sort of tradeoff,

KING TRITON
"What?"

URSULA
Maybe swap your daughter's soul for, say, your own
Sign the scroll and set her free
Or else she comes with me
To suffer through eternity alone...

"The mute little hatchling, drowning in her own sorrow, with no voice left to cry out your name... Well? I'm waiting."

KING TRITON
"It's not my soul you're after-it's my power."

URSULA
"Which would you rather be?"
"The King of the Sea... or a father to his little girl?"
"Finally! The oceans belong to me!"

And now you poor unfortunate soul!
Time's up! You're through!
Now the power of Poseidon
Has been once again made whole
All the magic of the trident
And the shell in my control!
And now dark shall reign forever
Over ocean, sea and shoal!

Now see for yourselves how banishment feels!

You poor unfortunate soul!

I admit that in the past I've been a nasty
They weren't kidding when they called me kinda strange
But you'll find that nowadays
I've mended all my ways
Repented, seen the light, and made a change

And I fortunately know a little secret
It's a talent that I always have possessed
And dear lady, please don't laugh,
I use it on behalf
of the miserable, the lonely, and depressed (pathetic)

Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them? Yes, indeed!

Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
They come flocking to me crying
"Will you help us, pretty please?"
And I help them? Yes I do!

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes, on land it's much preferred
for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?

They're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
on ladies who withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who gets a man

Poor unfortunate souls
Go ahead! Make your choice!
I'm a very busy person and I haven't got all day
It won't cost much Just your voice!

Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
If you wanna cross the bridge, my sweet, you've got the pay the toll
Take a gulp, take a breath, go ahead, sign the scroll
Nick and Kevin, now I've got her, boys
The boss is on a roll

You poor unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them? Yes, indeed!

Those poor unfortunate souls
So sad, so true
They come flocking to me crying
"Will you help us, pretty please?"
And I help them? Yes I do!

Those poor unfortunate souls

Gallery

Wiki
The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Poor Unfortunate Souls.

Trivia

  • Howard Ashman recorded a version of the song with himself in the role of Ursula, to send to Carroll to convince her to take the role, which it did. This version was released in the four-CD set The Music Behind the Magic. Carroll admits that she borrowed some of the inflections she used in the song from Ashman's performance, and that he had been delighted she had done so.
  • Carroll's original rendition of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" was included on a 1995 compilation CD of songs performed by or about various Disney villains called Rascal Songs. The CD was released as part of a four-disc Disney song series as a McDonald's promotional item.
  • During the song, Ursula pulls out a contract, laying out the terms of the deal. The movie spares a moment to glance over the words of the contract, but speeds from the top of the scroll to the bottom at fast speed. If one were to slow down the movie at this part, they would notice that the contract is made up of garbled words, and a Hidden Mickey can be seen as well.
  • "Poor Unfortunate Souls" underwent little changes from storyboard to the final cut. One segment in the beginning of the scene was cut out from the final film, when Ursula beckoned Ariel to come in. She toyed with her hair for a bit and then explained to Ariel how she's been banished for attempting to, "elevate" her station in life. Which Ariel claimed, was attempting to overthrow her father.
    • There's another change that was made, in that an entire segment of the song was completely omitted from the final version of the scene which was meant to convince Ariel that going with Eric was the right thing, despite having to leave her family behind. At this point, the storyboarded version of the film cut off to Ursula explaining her price to Ariel, however, there was another version that went just a little further. It was Howard Ashman's demo version, which drastically lengthened Poor Unfortunate Souls length.
  • In the official comic book, Vanessa sang her reprise of the song, but with a new set of lyrics for the moment. Instead of dancing around her room in this version, Vanessa was sitting on a chair and brushing her hair while using a hand mirror instead of the large one in the film.
  • The French translation is quite similar to the original. However, the literal translation of the name would be Pauvres âmes infortunées, but they have chosen to replace it by Pauvres âmes en perdition (more or less translatable by Poor souls in distress), which is a clever pun because en perdition can mean in distress, but also (talking about a ship) about to sink, which makes sense in an underwater story, and âme en perdition can mean soul in perdition in a religious meaning, which also makes sense given that Ariel is about to conclude a faustian deal in that song.
  • Before this song was written, Ursula would sing a song called "Silence is Golden". The lyrics of this were partly reinjected into "Poor Unfortunate Souls".
  • An episode of Once Upon a Time ("Poor Unfortunate Soul") is named after this song.
  • During the reprise, an error can be seen when Vanessa stomps on a bottle on the vanity. In one shot, the bottle is seen as being blue, but in a close up, we see another bottle that is purple, which she steps on. After the shot pans out, both the blue bottle and purple one are gone.
  • In the comic book adaptation of the film, Vanessa sings the reprise when the shell necklace is not shown, implying that she can still use Ariel's voice so long as the necklace is intact.
  • Vanessa was Jodi Benson's first role as a villainous character in film. She would not go on to voice a villain-like character until the video game Grandia II, when she plays the role of Millenia.
  • In the Cantonese dub of the film, the dubbers did not translate the reprise; instead replacing the lyrics with a sample of Jodi Benson's vocalization.
  • In the Greek 1998 version, Vanessa's middle laugh in the reprise is not dubbed at all; instead, she stays silent.
  • 15 years after the release of the film, "Poor Unfortunate Souls (Reprise)" finally got a release for the Walt Disney Records Legacy Collection Soundtrack. Before then, it was unofficially called "Vanessa's Song".

External links

Wikipediafavicon Poor Unfortunate Souls on Wikipedia


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Media
Films: The Little MermaidThe Little Mermaid II: Return to the SeaThe Little Mermaid: Ariel's BeginningThe Little Mermaid (live-action film)Video

Television: Little Mermaid's IslandThe Little Mermaid: The SeriesA Poem Is...
Video Games: NES gameSega Genesis GameAriel's Story StudioKingdom HeartsKingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesKingdom Hearts IIThe Little Mermaid 2: Pinball FrenzyDisney's The Little Mermaid: Magic in Two KingdomsDisney Emoji BlitzDisney Heroes: Battle Mode
Books: Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea WitchOfficial Comic AdaptationDisney ComicsBig Golden BookClassic StorybookDisney's Wonderful World of ReadingGolden Sight 'n' Sound BookLittle Golden BookThe Little Mermaid's Treasure ChestDisney Princess Beginnings
Marvel Comics: Sink or SwimAll that GlittersThe DaredevilfishWhirlpool WorldMy Dinner with CrustaceaRoom at the PalaceThere Goes the NeighborhoodGone With the WavesThe Sea Horse TournamentThe Sorrowful Sea MonsterThe Wrong QueenOf Myths and MermaidsAriel and the Lobster's Loot
Music: SoundtrackThe Legacy CollectionSebastian from The Little MermaidSebastian: Party Gras!The Little Mermaid: Songs from the Sea

Disney Parks
Mermaid LagoonDisney's Art of Animation ResortAriel's GrottoAriel's PlaygroundBlowfish Balloon RaceDisney Animation BuildingFairy Tale ForestFlounder's Flying Fish CoasterIt's a Small WorldJumpin' JellyfishKing Triton's Carousel of the SeaMermaid Lagoon TheaterMickey's PhilharMagicPrincess PavilionScuttle's ScootersSorcerers of the Magic KingdomStorybook Land Canal BoatsThe Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea AdventureThe WhirlpoolVoyage to the Crystal Grotto

Entertainment: AnimagiqueDisney's Dreams: An Enchanted ClassicDisney's WishesFantasmic!Feel the MagicGolden Fairytale FanfareKing Triton's ConcertMickey's Magical CelebrationMickey and the Magical MapMickey and the Wondrous BookSummer BlastThe Golden MickeysVillains Tonight!Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Restaurants: Ariel's GrottoSebastian's Calypso Kitchen
Shops: Kiss de Girl FashionsMermaid MemoriesMermaid TreasuresPrince Eric's Village MarketScuttle's Shiny Things
Parade: Celebrate A Dream Come True ParadeDisney's Magical Moments ParadeDisney on ParadeDisney Stars on ParadeFestival of Fantasy ParadeMickey's New Year's Eve ParadeMove It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street PartyMickey's Soundsational ParadePaint The Night ParadeSpectroMagicStitch's Summer Dance BashThe Wonderful World of Disney ParadeWalt Disney's Parade of Dreams
Firework: Believe... There's Magic in the StarsCelebrate the MagicDisney Dreams!Disney in the StarsDisneyland ForeverFantasy in the SkyHappily Ever AfterIgnite the Dream: A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and LightMagic, Music and MayhemThe Magic, the Memories and YouOnce Upon a TimeRemember... Dreams Come TrueWorld of Color
Halloween: Happy HallowishesRe-Villains! Halloween ParadeThe Villains WorldVillains Night Out! Chapter 2

Characters
Original: ArielFlounderSebastianScuttlePrince EricKing TritonUrsulaFlotsam and JetsamKing Triton's DaughtersMaxGrimsbyCarlottaChef LouisUrsula's GardenGlutThe Seahorse HeraldHaroldMerpeople

Sequel: MelodyTip and DashMorganaCloak and DaggerUndertowHammerhead SharkAlexFlounder's guppiesBaby PenguinUrsula and Morgana's mother
Prequel: Queen AthenaMarina Del ReyBenjaminThe Catfish Club BandStevieElectric Eels
Little Mermaid's Island SandyScales
TV Series: UrchinGabriellaOllieDudleyPearlPearl's motherMantaLittle EvilDanielMoraySimonLobster Mobster and Da ShrimpThe SorceressGlowfishEbb and FloEmpreror Shargaand the SharkaniansOctopidBrain SpongeZeusSpot the Killer WhaleCrab ScoutsHans Christian AndersenLuckyThorAugustusStormy the Giant SeahorseThe Magical Wishing StarfishApolloArchimedesSeaclopsNeptune
Comic Book: IndigoMarlin the MagicianJenny

Episodes
Season One: "Whale of a Tale" • "The Great Sebastian" • "Stormy" • "Urchin" • "Double Bubble" • "Message in a Bottle" • "Charmed" • "Marriage of Inconvenience" • "The Evil Manta" • "Thingamajigger" • "Red" • "Beached" • "Trident True" • "Eel-Ectric City"

Season Two: "Resigned to It" • "Calliope Dreams" • "Save the Whale" • "Against the Tide" • "Giggles" • "Wish Upon a Starfish" • "Tail of Two Crabs" • "Metal Fish" • "T'ank You For Dat, Ariel"
Season Three: "Scuttle" • "King Crab" • "Island of Fear" • "Land of the Dinosaurs" • "Heroes" • "The Beast Within" • "Ariel's Treasures" • "A Little Evil"

Objects
Prince Eric's StatueTridentUrsula's CauldronUrsula's NecklaceMelody's locketQueen Athena's music boxDinglehopperRoyal Ship
Locations
AtlanticaAriel's Secret GrottoUrsula's LairPrince Eric's CastleThe Wedding ShipMorgana's Ice Cave
Songs
Film: Fathoms BelowDaughters of King TritonPart of Your WorldUnder the SeaPoor Unfortunate SoulsLes PoissonsKiss the GirlDown to the SeaFor a MomentTip and DashHere on the Land and SeaJust One MistakeJump in the Line (Shake Senora)I Remember

TV Series: Just a Little LoveYou Got to be YouThe Edge of the Edge of the SeaThe Lobster Mobster's MobThe Beddy Bye BluesSing a New SongIn HarmonyThis is the LifeNever Give UpYou Wouldn't Want to Mess with MeThe Sound of LaughterDaring to DanceJust Give Me a ChanceEvil Lullaby
Musical: She's in LoveHuman StuffPositoovityI Want the Good Times BackDaddy's Little AngelHer VoiceThe World AboveThe ContestIf OnlyBeyond My Wildest DreamsSweet ChildOne Step CloserAll Good Things Must End
Deleted: Silence is GoldenGonna Get My Wish
Other: One Dance

See Also
MusicalThe Disney AfternoonDisney Sing Along Songs: Under the Sea


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Media
Films: DescendantsDescendants 2Descendants 3

Shorts: Under The Sea: A Descendants Story
Web Series: School of SecretsDescendants: Wicked World
Video Games: Descendants: Isle of the Lost Rush
Music: DescendantsDescendants 2
Books: Isle of the Lost: A Descendants NovelDisney Descendants YearbookDisney Descendants: Secrets of Auradon Prep: Insider's HandbookDescendants: Mal's Spell BookDescendants: Junior NovelDescendants: Mal's DiaryReturn to the Isle of the Lost: A Descendants NovelDisney Descendants: School of SecretsRise of the Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel

Characters
MalJayEvieCarlos De VilBenAudreyLonnieJaneChad CharmingDougBelleBeastFairy GodmotherSnow WhiteQueen LeahMaleficentJafarThe Evil QueenCruella De VilCoach JenkinsMr. DeleyDudeUmaHarry HookGilDizzy TremaineUrsulaJordanFreddie FacilierAllyCJ HookZevonAzizDr. FacilierCelia FacilierSqueaky and SquirmyHades
Episodes
Season One: "Evie's Explosion of Taste" • "Mal's Digi-Image Problem" • "Audrey's New Do? New Don't!" • "Careful What You Wish For" • "Voodoo? You Do" • "Lamp Sweet Lamp" • "Genie Chic" • "Puffed Deliciousness" • "Good is the New Bad" • "Spirit Day" • "I'm Your Girl" • "Mash It Up" • "All Hail the New Q.N.L.B." • "Mad for Tea" • "Carpet Jacked" • "The Night is Young" • "Neon Lights Out" • "Hooked On Ben"

Season Two: "Slumber Party" • "Odd Mal Out" • "Pair of Sneakers" • "Wild Rehearsal" • "Chemical Reaction" • "Talking Heads" • "Steal Away" • "Evil Among Us" • "Options Are Shrinking" • "Party Crashers" • "Mal-lone" • "Trapped" • "Face to Face" • "United We Stand" • "Celebration"

Objects
Mal's Spell BookMagic WandSpinning WheelMagic MirrorJafar's Snake StaffHeart BoxMagic CarpetMaleficent's Staff Birthright JewelsJordan's LampUrsula's Necklace
Songs
Rotten to the CoreEvil Like MeDid I MentionIf OnlyBe Our GuestSet It OffBelieveNight Is YoungGood is the New BadI'm Your GirlGenie in a BottleRather Be With YouEvilBetter TogetherWays to Be WickedWhat's My NameChillin' Like a VillainSpace BetweenIt's Goin' DownYou and MePoor Unfortunate SoulsKiss the Girl
Locations
Isle of the LostDragon HallAuradon PrepAuradonNeverlandUrsula's Fish and ChipsLady Tremaine's Curl Up and Dye
See Also
Anti-Heroes Club