UPDATE: Sept. 29 ― Bette Midler set the record straight Wednesday on the lyrics to “I Put a Spell on You” after one of her Instagram captions sparked heated discourse among fans.
At the New York premiere of “Hocus Pocus 2,” the actor and singer told E! News she had misquoted the classic song from the original 1993 film on social media.
“Salem, not sailors!” she said. “Why would I say ‘Hello, sailors’? No, no, it’s Salem — ‘Hello, Salem.’”
Midler also updated the caption of the Sept. 23 Instagram post that started the debate, attributing the misquote to an autocorrect error.
Bette Midler geared up for the release of the “Hocus Pocus” sequel this week by dropping a surprise revelation (for some fans, anyway) about the original movie.
Over the weekend, the stage and screen icon shared a bewitching photo of herself as Winifred Sanderson on Instagram, along with a caption that referenced “I Put A Spell On You,” her classic song from the 1993 film.
“Hello, sailors,” she wrote. “My name’s Winifred, what’s yours?”
While the lyric may seem innocuous, it stunned many Midler fans, who believed she was singing “Salem,” the Massachusetts town where the movie is set, instead of “sailors.”
“Wait… it’s sailors not Salem??” one person wrote. Added another: “I was today years old when I learned she says ‘Sailors’ instead of ‘Salem.’”
Evidently, the lyrics for “I Put A Spell On You” were even misheard by Freeform, as the cable channel’s YouTube video captioning for the song also quotes Winifred as singing, “Hello, Salem.”
The “sailors” vs. “Salem” discourse, of course, reflects the excitement surrounding “Hocus Pocus 2,” which hits Disney+ on Friday. The movie reunites Midler with actors Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson sisters, a trio of wicked witches who are inadvertently resurrected on Halloween night.
The original “Hocus Pocus” was both a critical and commercial disappointment upon its initial 1993 release. Since then, however, the movie has garnered a devoted following among viewers of all ages, and has been embraced as a fall favorite.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly earlier this month, the Divine Miss M said she finds the new film “quite satisfying.”
“We made suggestions as far as songs were concerned, and we went to the barricades on that,” she explained. “It feels very sisterly. It’s much more loving than it used to be. After 30 years in purgatory or limbo, they’re happy to be free again.”