Mushu’s songs were cut from Disney’s Mulan after Eddie Murphy ‘refused to sing’

With Disney's Mulan live action movie now on Disney+ the original team behind the animation have been revealing the behind the scenes secrets.

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Mushu in Mulan

With the Mulan live action movie now on Disney+, the original team behind the 1998 animated version has been reminiscing about the second to last “Disney Renaissance” movie, revealing surprising behind the scenes secrets.

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The movie – which made $304million worldwide – was a musical, like most of the earlier Disney movies.

There’s been plenty of debate around the live action Mulan soundtrack as it contains no music bar the instrumental nods to the original songs.

Popular tunes like I’ll Make a Man Out of You, Reflection (re-recorded by Christina Aguilera for the remake’s soundtrack) and Honour To Us All were all memorable tunes and have stood the test of time, but did you know there were more songs that never made the cut?

There may be no Mushu in the remake, but the travel-size guardian was a key part of the animation.

So much so, Mushu had songs written for him, with one called Keep ‘Em Guessing getting to the recording phase with Billy Porter lending his vocal talents to the demo.

Eddie Murphy, who voiced Mushu, was then supposed to sing the track, which saw the little dragon advising Mulan on how to keep her real identity secret while she pretended to be a male soldier.

Lyrics included Mushu riffing and telling Mulan he’d teach her to put on “an act that’s so convincing, they’ll think you’re a dude.”

Sadly, the song never made it to the big screen, but not because Disney or the team didn’t like it, at least according to David Zippel and Matt Wilder, who wrote the music for the 1998 movie.

Speaking on the Bancroft Brothers podcast, the pair discussed why the song was cut. 

“Two songs were cut, both from Mushu,” said Matt, “but there were two or three moments that didn’t make it to the film. In this particular instance we tried out hand at musicalise Mushu’s character with Keep ‘Em Guessing and Billy Porter sang the demo, which was phenomenal.

“It was a great jazzy set up… and Eddie Murphy would not have it, he wouldn’t sing!”

Mulan
Disney

Determined not to give up, the pair tried to come up with a compromise. “So I had the idea to take Eddie Murphy’s iconic moments when he plays James Brown on Saturday Night Live – this comedic thing, so he could talk his way, talk-sing, and let’s try that [I thought],” he added. 

It was to no avail, Eddie Murphy was still not interested in singing at all. While the actor was happy to play the role of Mushu, he didn’t want to sing on screen.

Thankfully, Mushu had plenty of work to do in Mulan providing most of the laughs, but we can’t help but wonder how that version of the movie would have played out…

The Keep Em Guessing Lyrics are below if you’re interested, though Matt and David played (and sang) an excerpt on the podcast too – you can listen below to the cut version.

Keep ‘Em Guessing Lyrics

You’re headin’ for disaster,
But I’m your one best chance.
Though, miss, you are miscast
I’ll show you how to show,
Who wears the pants.

I’m smoother than ginseng.
I’ll teach you attitude.
An act that’s so convincing,
They’ll think you’re a dude.

You’re an odd one, mademoiselle,
And your story doesn’t gel,
But if they don’t ask, don’t tell.
Keep ’em guessing!

Let me lead you to the fun of
Camouflaging what you’re one of,
‘Cause their business, it is none of!
Keep ’em guessing!

Mushu: (speaking)

“So how we’re doing?
We’re a team right?
Like Yin and Yang?
Ping and Pong?
Beef and Broccoli?”

Mulan: (speaking)

“…I don’t know.
I probably won’t make it into camp,
let alone the battle field.”

Mushu: (speaking)

You think that you don’t need me,
But doll, you’re in a jam.
I’ll train you to mislead,
To walk the walk,
We’ll both pull off this scam.

I’m ready to coach you.
Let’s start with your physique.
Before I’m through,
They’ll vote you He-Man of the week.

Take it from the one who’s wise!
Pull the silk over their eyes,
With some little off-white lies.
Keep ’em guessing!

Honey, listen to ol’ Mushu,
Like a cricket they would ‘squoosh’ you
Shut your mouth, they’ll mainly bruise you.
Keep ’em guessing!

Well if the girl you are does not show
You won’t set off the alarms.
If I can make you mucho macho,
Who’s to know that you’re a babe,
In arms?

Though I’m not the type to brag,
This charade is in the bag,
And reality’s a drag.
Keep ’em guessing!

Sweetcakes, never say surrender,
I can make you a contender.
Get you through this gender bender.
Keep em’ guessing!

When the truth is too depressing,
When it’s with their minds they’re messing,
Read my lips and heed my lesson!
Keep em’ guessing!

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