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Hakuna Matata

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It's our problem-free philosophy: Hakuna Matata!
"Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife!"
— "The Bare Necessities", The Jungle Book

Life is good, ain't it? Makes you just want to sing about it. And if life isn't good... well, then sing about being happy, and some happiness is sure to come to you. And if you've got a friend whose life isn't as happy, well then maybe a song will perk up their day.

Some other guys can take their dark brooding, their angst, their cynicism, and their responsibilities and sit in their corner somewhere. But this song is about living the good life, the free life, the happy life. Not tied down by any restrictions, you just sing to be happy, and that's all there is to it.

Basically, this song is about having a fun-loving, optimistic outlook on the world, and, above all else, no worries. Expect this sequence to be a lot lighter in tone than the rest of the plot.

Usually, this type of song is sung by a carefree individual to educate someone who doesn't know the joy of the good life, but, since the hero's journey is ultimately all about responsibility, this tends to be a Sidekick Song, especially if the sidekick's life is a Foil to the hero's destiny, or a song sung by the hero before The Call screws around with his life. It may even represent an initial Refusal of the Call, or a "Leave Your Quest" Test later in the story.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Disney uses this a lot:
    • The Lion King: The song "Hakuna Matata" popularized the phrase, where Timon and Pumbaa tell Simba, who has just run away from his responsibilities and his life, that he doesn't need to worry about the past, because a carefree existence is much less trouble. However, this mentality ends up becoming an obstacle that Simba must throw off before he can start serving the kingdom and rescue it from Scar, who never outgrows this attitude and tries to take the benefits of being king without taking any of the responsibility that goes along with the job. When both Simba and Scar shun this responsibility, the kingdom suffers greatly from Scar's neglectful approach. It's only when Simba grows and learns to take responsibility that prosperity returns. In fact, the song shows Simba being apathetically cynical ("Sometimes, bad things happen and there's nothing you can do about it. So why worry?").
    • This wasn't the first time Disney used this trope for a song. Oliver & Company, which came out 6 years before The Lion King, has "Why Should I Worry?", sung by Dodger to Oliver. Dodger isn't a comic relief character like Timon and Pumbaa, but it's very much a "let me astonish you, young stranger, with tales of my carefree lifestyle" song.
    • It doesn't go back there, either! The Jungle Book has "The Bare Necessities" (of which an excerpt of the lyrics provides the page quote). Baloo tells Mowgli all about life in the jungle, where your only concern should be what's for dinner (and whether or not it's you), and no one needs any lasting anxiety.
    • Fun and Fancy Free had Jiminy Cricket's song "I'm a Happy-go-Lucky Fellow," all about his happy and carefree approach to life.
    • And even before "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow," there was "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah", about having a "wonderful feeling" on a "wonderful day," from Song of the South.
    • Brother Bear has a Cut Song called, well... "The Fishing Song", which is replaced in the final version of the film by "Welcome". "The Fishing Song" is basically about how the bears at the Salmon Run live a happy life just being bears, including eating, swimming, fishing, and sleeping. They also live a motto that can be described (as said in the lyrics) as "every day is one long party" and "life don't get no better than this".
    • Frozen has "Let it Go" sung by Elsa, where she believes that she can finally use her ice powers without harming anyone, and live with no worries or responsibilities by going on a self-induced isolation in her Ice Palace. Unfortunately, what she doesn't realize is that she accidentally plunged her own kingdom into an Endless Winter and upon being informed, she goes right back to square one and panics, accidentally striking her sister in the heart. Her Character Development involves learning to face her problems instead of simply avoiding them, in the end controlling and using her powers around others instead of repressing them or hiding.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1998) had Slyly the Fox sing "It Could Be Worse" to Rudolph after he ran away from home. The song is about how there are worse situations in the world and how Rudolph should forget his troubles at the time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Labyrinth: Cross this over with a Villain Song, hand it to a Wacky Wayside Tribe that's keeping the heroine from reaching her goal, and you get "Chilly Down," all about life without worrying about a thing.
  • The 2019 remake of The Lion King takes a rather nihilistic spin on "Hakuna Matata." There is no "circle of life" or anything beyond the here and now, only a "line of meaningless indifference". Nothing really matters beyond living comfortably and choosing your own happiness over a meaningful purpose.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:
    • The show finally hooks up Josh and Rebecca after a season and a half of trying, and they celebrate with a '70s soul pastiche called "We'll Never Have Problems Again," and forcibly reject any thoughts about how delusional with infatuation they are. Heather calls them out on it.
      Rebecca: But now our love / has magically solved them / And there won't be any / more in our future at all!
      Heather: Okay, so you guys are, like, super delusional.
    • Josh also tries this earlier, with the Jason Mraz-style "Thought Bubbles", but he keeps being distracted from his insistence that he's totally happy and chill with disturbing thoughts like how weird it was that he randomly stopped liking guacamole one day because what if he suddenly stopped liking his mom the same way? Ultimately concluding with him realizing that his generally carefree personality can only be kept up as long as he's in a relationship and has someone to distract him from his thoughts.
      Life is so sweet when you take it light / Nothing can go wrong when the sun is bright / That reminds me that I barely passed lifeguard school / That's why that kid almost died in that pool...

  • "Livin' in the Sunlight, Lovin' in the Moonlight", best known for its cover version by Tiny Tim, is all about "having a wonderful time" and not worrying about things.
  • "Three Little Birds" from Exodus by Bob Marley
    "Don't worry, 'bout a thing
    'cause every little thing's gonna be alright."
  • Visiting Africa, one notices a little tune emanating from the locals. Whilst the lyrics differ depending on region, it goes "Jambo, Jambo bwana, habari gani, m'zuri sana... Hakuna Matata, Hakuna Matata, Hakuna Matata!" It is an actual song, and very popular. (Simba is also Swahili for Lion and is heard everywhere, too)
  • The song "Fill Your Heart" by Paul Williams and Biff Rose, later Covered Up by the likes of Tiny Tim and David Bowie, urges you to fill your heart with love, which will clean your mind and make you freeeeeeeeeeee!
  • The Beatles' Abbey Road gives us the famous "Here Comes the Sun." For some background, the early winter months of 1969 were not kind to George Harrison: he temporarily left the band, got arrested for drug possession, and had his tonsils removed. The end of that unfortunate winter inspired him to write about the hopeful feelings brought by the coming spring, and the rest is history.
  • Martina McBride's "Happy Girl" is about formerly feeling down all the time, but living happily after realizing that did no good and approaching life with a loving and optimistic outlook instead.

  • "Bidin' My Time" from Girl Crazy, by the Gershwin Brothers that extols the slacker's philosophy.
  • RENT has:
    • "Out Tonight", about Mimi enjoying what time she has left.
    • "Santa Fe", about Collins' dream of opening a restaurant out west.
  • Monty Python's Spamalot has "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," a song about how life seriously sucks but if you make the most of it, you might end up not being depressed. In its original presentation in Monty Python's Life of Brian it's being sung by a bunch of crucified people. Despite their fate this is their philosophy.
    Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true / You'll see that life's a show, leave 'em laughing as you go
  • "All For The Best" from Godspell points out that even though life might suck, there's more to life than material wealth and that it will all even out in the end.
  • Subverted and directly referenced in The Book of Mormon with "Hasa Diga Eebowai," in which the Ugandan villagers sing a happy-sounding song about how much their lives suck and how they try to make the best of it by cursing God in the most profane manner possible, and again in "Turn It Off," in which the Mormon missionaries sing a toe-tapping tune about forgetting their problems by suppressing their emotions.
  • "Dancing Through Life" from Wicked, though it is heavily shown that this manner of life is shallow, flippant and actually unfulfilling. The singer learns his lesson by the end of the play.
  • Cabaret:
    • "Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome" is of the darker life-sucks-but-let's-pretend-for-a-moment-it-doesn't variety.
      EmCee: Leave your troubles outside! In here, life is beautiful... the girls are beautiful... even the orchestra is beautiful!
    • The title song "Cabaret" is another:
      Come taste the wine / Come hear the band / Come blow your horn, start celebrating / Right this way, your table's waiting!
  • "Live, Laugh, Love" from Follies starts out as one of these.
    Ben: When the rent is owing / What's the use of tears? / I'd rather laugh, / I'd rather love, / I'd rather live / In arrears.
  • "Living Dead" from Jasper in Deadland is about all the spirits in Deadland partying and having fun, due to the fact that they've already lost everything except for their souls.
  • "With a Little Bit of Luck" in My Fair Lady is a decidedly amoral example by the hedonistic Lower-Class Lout Alfred Doolittle.
  • In Hadestown, "Living It Up on Top" is about Persephone heralding her return and everyone enjoying the summertime and life she brings. The forgetting-your-troubles aspect is particularly resonant in the Broadway version, where Persephone puts complaints about the weather and hard times out of her mind as she tells Eurydice to take what she can get and make the most of it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Lion Guard has a call back to the song from The Lion King. Bunga and Simba end up trying to navigate tunnels when they’re trapped in a sinkhole. They argue and go off in different directions. Bunga starts singing “Hakuna Matata” and Simba hears him and joins in. They realize they’re kinda like brothers since Timon and Pumbaa raised them both, and are able to start getting along better. Simba, along with the rest of his family,later sings it at the Elephants’ concert.

What a wonderful phrase!


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Hakuna Matata

The trope namer. Timon and Pumbaa help Simba forget his worries with their motto, "Hakuna Matata".

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