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Stylish Soundtracks: Mermaidcore

Make this playlist part of your world.
Colleen Phelps
Make this playlist part of your world.

This is part of a series of essays and playlists related to various trendy aesthetics that we’re calling “Stylish Soundtracks.” From Barbies to cottages, we’ve got your cores covered - musically, that is.

Watch and you’ll see. Someday she’ll be part of your world.

Maybe even today.

A live-action remake of The Little Mermaid heads back to theaters this week, and my 90s-kid heart has refused to be still about it. Whether that’s a sign of the trend or a catalyst, Mermaidcore is listed in many articles, such as one in Harpar’s Bazaar, as THE trend for 2023.

Historically, a mermaid-cut dress (with a fishtail skirt) first came in vogue at the end of the 19th century. With it's long fit and flare at the bottom, the shape has remained popular this century for bridal gowns.

Adjacent to maritime looks, Mermaidcore might be described as the glamorous cousin of Coastal Grandma chic, which remains popular from last year. Seashells and starfish continue to be plentiful. But where coastal grandmas might have light, loose linen, mermaidcore means all-over sequins and fishtail gowns. Disco meets the deep sea. Oceanic colors - greens, blues, and purples - mixed together in hair color also reflect the trend - sometimes in an offshoot called "dark mermaid." Naturally, the color pairs well with loose curls. There are even special hair tools designed to give tresses the soft crimp also known as a mermaid wave.

In the home the coastal details are similar, but maybe a bit more pearlescent and with deep blue shades heavily emphasized.

The ocean is part of the natural world that can seem quite expressive - tempestuous, calm, mysterious, and powerful all in the same day. As such, it has long been a source of inspiration for composers. And whether you consider them water nymphs, sirens, or mermaids, stories of the women who make the ocean their home have also been the subject of many tone poems, operas, and art songs throughout music history.

Put on your best paillette sequins and your most shimmery eyeshadow, set the table with the dinglehopper to the left, and turn on this Mermaidcore Classical playlist as you hit the beach.

You'll find quite a few water nymphs and mermaids in the music. Especially Dvorak’s iconic “Song to the moon” from his opera Rusalka, as well as Lili Boulanger's 1911 work Les Sirenes. And shimmering ocean portrayals are very present, such as Debussy’s La Mer and one of the Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes. Felix Mendelssohn's music is present despite the composer's tendency toward seasickness. Disney covers couldn’t be ignored, so you'll find both Pirates of the Caribbean and The Little Mermaid.

Let us know what we missed on any of our social media platforms. And if there’s an aesthetic you love, ask us to build a playlist.

Colleen is the Music Director and host for LPM Classical. Email Colleen at colleen@lpm.org.

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