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"Under the Sea"
Sebastian C. - Under the Sea.jpg
Single by Samuel E. Wright
from the album The Little Mermaid: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
ReleasedDecember 13, 1989
LabelWalt Disney
Composer(s)Alan Menken
Lyricist(s)Howard Ashman
  • Menken
  • Ashman
Licensed audio
"Under the Sea" on YouTube

"Under the Sea" is a song from Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman.[3] It is influenced by the calypso style of the Caribbean which originated in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as reggae, which originated in Jamaica.[citation needed] The song was performed in the film by Samuel E. Wright. The track won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1989,[3] the first for a Disney film since "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins in 1964.[4] Additionally, the song won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media in 1991.[5]

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, as Ariel leaves before the end of the song.

The song is present throughout all the Walt Disney parks and resorts and the Disney Cruise Line.

Single release

The song was released as a 12" single in 1990 by Walt Disney Pictures / Hollywood Records. The record listed the artist as "Sebastian C."

US 12-inch single (ST-ED-66621A-SP)

  1. "Under the Sea (Atlantic Ocean Single Mix)" - 3:36
  2. "Under the Sea (Jellyfish Mix)" - 5:20
  3. "Under the Sea (Mermaid Dub)" - 3:27
  4. "Under the Sea (Pacific Ocean Single Mix)" - 3:10
  5. "Under the Sea (Polka Dot Bikini Mix)" - 5:33
  6. "Under the Sea (Sub Dub)" - 3:46


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[6] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[7] 2× Platinum 2,000,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Live and stage versions

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The song makes an appearance on the Disney Cruise Line shows "Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic" on the Disney Magic and Wonder, as well as in "The Golden Mickeys" on the Disney Dream.

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. The key was lowered slightly to the key of C (in which Ashman and Menken recorded their initial demos for The Little Mermaid).

Cover versions

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"Under the Sea (Reprise)"
Song by Tituss Burgess
from the album Disney's The Little Mermaid: Original Broadway Cast Recording
ReleasedFebruary 26, 2008
GenrePop, calypso, show tune, reggae
LabelWalt Disney
Composer(s)Alan Menken
Lyricist(s)Howard Ashman
Producer(s)Alan Menken

A reprise of the song was featured in the Broadway musical.


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In 1991, this song was parodied by musician Tom Smith with his song, "On The PC". This song was re-written in 1999 as "PC99".

The song was parodied on the TV show Kappa Mikey where Mikey tries to convince a squid to live on land with him.

The song was parodied on the TV show Bobby's World as "Underwater the Fish Don't Stink". The context was a dream of Bobby's in which he was a fish and his Uncle Ted was a merman - it turned out Bobby was having the dream because he was sleeping outside and the lawn sprinklers had turned on.

The song was also briefly parodied in the Tiny Toons movie How I Spent My Vacation.

The song was parodied on the TV show The Simpsons in the episode "Homer Badman," in a sequence where Homer Simpson imagines living under water (eating all of the characters from The Little Mermaid) to escape the protesters and media circus who have accused him of sexually harassing a college coed.

The song in part inspired the song "That's How You Know" from Enchanted, which also had music by Menken.[citation needed]

On a 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Tina Fey, a mermaid princess (Fey) sings another version called "Below the Waves" with her sea-animal friends: a crab resembling Sebastian (Kenan Thompson), two salmon (Abby Elliott and Vanessa Bayer), a seahorse (Paul Brittain) and a manta ray (Fred Armisen). The song is interrupted by the arrival of Osama Bin Laden's body.

In 2014, College Humor created a parody "Deep under the sea, fish are ugly" discussing strange creatures of the deep sea.[8]

The song, as well as a majority of other factors in the film, was parodied in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy in which Billy's character goes swimming and encounters a small yellow crab (voiced by Steven Blum) who sings a song for him entitled "Under the Ocean" in a style reminiscent of the scene of Sebastian singing the song for Ariel.


  1. ^ "A brief guide to Calypso music". Reader's Digest. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  2. ^ David Mansour (June 2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 422. ISBN 978-0-7407-5118-9.
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ Rizzi, Sofia. "Which Disney songs have won an Oscar?". Classic FM. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  5. ^ Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media#1980s
  6. ^ "British single certifications – Samuel E Wright – Under the Sea". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  7. ^ "American single certifications – Samuel E. Wright – Under the Sea". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  8. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Under The Deep Sea (Little Mermaid Parody)". YouTube.