The Story of Elton John and the “The Lion King” Soundtrack

The Story of Elton John and the "The Lion King" Soundtrack

If you’re in your 30s, you’ve definitely had fun and moved on from watching the classic “The Lion King” as a kid, one of Disney’s most famous and successful animations. The story of Simmba and his journey to become the king of the Kingdom Lands is still very popular and has won several film awards including an Oscar, as well as a remake in 2019.

The film also became notable because of its soundtrack, which remains in the minds of many fans to this day. Who was involved in its production, none less than Elton John, was responsible for composing and recording some of the original songs for animation.

Below, get a better understanding of how John contributes to the project, as well as two other curiosities related to the singer and animation.

“The Lion King” and Elton John

Disney invited writer and composer Tim Rice to develop the soundtrack for “The Lion King”. He had already composed the songs used in “Aladdin” with Alan Menken, and accepted the new invitation until he could once again work with a partner.

However, Mencken was unavailable at the time. So Rice got the idea to call on Elton John to help him. They considered inviting Abba (who had been inactive since 1982), but one of the members, Benny Anderson, was also engaged.

Inspired by the score of “The Wolf Boy” (1967), Elton clarified that he wanted to create songs that would appeal to both children and adults. Thus, the five original songs for “The Lion King” were born. They are: “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Be Ready”, “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.

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In Portuguese, not counting “Hakuna Matata”, the songs won the following titles: “Ciclo sem fim”, “O que u quero mis ser re”, “Get ready” and “Nesta noit o amor chega”, respectively.

Of them all, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was the most successful of the original songs from “The Lion King”.

The version sung by Elton John himself was featured during the animation credits and won several awards, including the Oscar for Best Original Song and the Grammy for Best Male Pop Performance. It also reached the top of the charts in countries such as France and Canada, number four in the United States, number nine in Australia, and number 14 in the United Kingdom.

Walt Disney’s Nephew Elton Didn’t Want

With the success of the soundtrack to “The Lion King,” it’s hard to even imagine what the film would have been like without the presence of Elton John, right? Well, know that it is almost done.

One of the reasons Tim Rice invited Elton over was because he wanted a rock-and-roll feel to the animation. The idea was not liked by Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, who at the time held a high executive position at the studio.

The Reason? He wanted “The Lion King” to have a more documentary feel, which would not match John’s style. in an interview with Los Angeles TimesThe executive said:

“I didn’t consider myself a fan of (Elton John). We joked a lot that my knowledge of popular music ended when Glenn Miller (the famous jazz musician of the 1930s and 1940s) stopped recording. At least that’s what my kids tell me.”

In addition, the production of the film did not like the work of the first British star. They weren’t so excited to hear them sing all the songs during the animation, which was the original idea for the project.

“I can say now that they (producers) weren’t thrilled with the demo. We had a lovely demo of Elton singing ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight,’ but with him on the piano. I don’t think he imagined that it can be sung in the voices of the characters.”

And the opposite happened, according to Roy Disney.

“There were other disagreements along the way, some more serious. One was that John was very suspicious of ‘Hakuna Mata’.

According to the singer herself, this disbelief stemmed from the simple fact that “Hakuna Mata” is a more comical song among the more romantics. he told the magazine crew,

“I sat down to watch the song and one of the lines said ‘When I was a puppy.’ And then I thought, ‘How did we get to this?'”

The fact is that the difficulties were overcome. Both the film and its soundtrack created history. In addition to the aforementioned success of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, the album that featured songs from the feature sold more than 7 million copies in the United States alone, making it the best-selling animated soundtrack album in the country’s history. .

It’s worth noting that Elton and Tim created five original songs on the soundtrack. The instruments are by Hans Zimmer. John recorded versions singing “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, but what you hear during the film are interpretations by voice actors – The cast brought in names such as Labo M, Carmen Twilley, Jason Weaver, Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson and Joseph Williams (Toto).

The new live-action star disappoints

As fans of the film know, Disney is producing live-action versions of some of its classics, such as “Cinderella”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”.

The one who went through the same treatment was “The Lion King”. The new feature was released in 2019, and despite grossing over US$1 billion at the box office, fans and critics considered the title just average.

The one who was not very happy with this film was Elton John himself. At that time, in an interview with British GQHe made it clear that he was disappointed with the work done for the soundtrack, which featured singer Beyoncé.

“The music was a standout part of the original and the new film’s music didn’t have as much impact. The magic and joy was lost.”

Furthermore, John expressed his displeasure at not being invited to contribute to the new project.

“I would have loved to have been invited, but the creative vision for the film and its music was different this time and I was not welcomed and treated with the same level of respect. It bothers me immensely.”

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