Being a girl of a certain age, I can quote practically all of Disney’s 1989 The Little Mermaid. When the soundtrack came out the following spring, it was THE gift to give. Shortly after that, I was gearing up to go to Spain for (what would be) my last summer visit, and my friend Sarah made a cassette copy for me to take.
That soundtrack saved me. I spent hours and hours playing and rewinding the tape in the upstairs sitting room in my grandparents’ house. I had adopted the space as my “office” since no one ever went in there and it was quiet. I’d figured that a good way to kill time was to type all the lyrics out on an old typewriter.
And so I dutifully transcribed everything, even the sea shanty that opens the film, and for the most part I was dead right, but that little French ditty sung by the chef, Les Poissons, always bothered me since there was stuff I just couldn’t make out.
I re-watched Ariel’s adventures recently (totally holds up) and I’ll be damned if I didn’t understand everything that little Gaulish caricature mutters. For all these years, I’d assumed he was just mumbling, but he actually says “Nouvelle cuisine, Champs-Élysées, Maurice Chevalier,” which is still nonsense but are actual French words.