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Music / The Lion King (1994)

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Can you feel the love tonight?
It is where we are
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give
"Circle of Life" as performed by Elton John

The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack album for the 1994 Disney animated film The Lion King. It was released through Walt Disney Records on May 31, 1994, two weeks prior to the film.

While working on the soundtrack for 1992's Aladdin with Alan Menken, Tim Rice was invited to write songs for this film as well. He asked Disney to find someone to assist him, as he didn't want to work on such a project alone. Menken was unavailable, since he was already committed to Pocahontas. After being rebuffed by Benny Andersson, also due to prior commitments, Rice suggested English singer/songwriter Elton John.

John accepted the challenge, seeing it as a chance to attract adults to his music by writing songs that the kid audience could relate to. He decided to take his influence from 1967's The Jungle Book.

Rice and John ultimately wrote five songs: "Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to be King", "Be Prepared", "Hakuna Matata", and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight". In addition to the film versions of the songs, John would also record his own versions of "Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to be King", and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" for the album.

Meanwhile, composer Hans Zimmer worked on the orchestration for the film, taking heavy cues from African music. He would enlist the assistance of South African composer Lebohang Morake, also known as Lebo M. Four pieces of the orchestral score would be included in the soundtrack album: "This Land", "...To Die For", "Under the Stars", and "King of Pride Rock".

The soundtrack, like the film it came from, was an enormous success. It went ten-times Platinum in the United States, and would become one of the first albums to be certified Diamond by the RIAA when it was instituted in 1999.note  It would be in the Top 10 of the year-end Billboard 200 album chart in 1994 (#4) and 1995 (#10), and would finish at #21 on the decade-end Billboard 200 album chart for the nineties.

John's versions of Can You Feel the Love Tonight and Circle of Life would both see considerable airplay, and both would be hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK pop chart.

Naturally, it raked up awards. At the 67th Academy Awards, it won Best Original Score, and Best Original Song for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"; "Circle of Life" and "Hakuna Matata" were also nominated. At the 37th Grammy Awards, it won Best Musical Album for Children, and both "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Circle of Life" were nominated for Song of the Year (which they lost to "Streets of Philadelphia"). "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" did win Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for Elton John, while the film version of "Circle of Life" won Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for Carmen Twillie and Lebo M.

The soundtrack would inspire the 1995 supporting album Rhythm of the Pride Lands. This album included many original compositions by Lebo M., including renditions of "Hakuna Matata" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"; and a cut song, "Warthog Rhapsody", sung by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella. Rhythm was a limited edition that sold out its original run of 1 million copies, being certified Platinum by the RIAA, though it is now available digitally. Its leadoff track, "He Lives in You", would go on to be the intro song for the 1998 direct-to-video sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.

A new edition of the soundtrack was released in 2003 to correspond with the film's special edition release. It adds in "The Morning Report", from a restored Deleted Scene, and a remix of John's performance of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight". There is also a sing-along version of the album, which has separately gone double-Platinum in the United States.

Another new edition of the soundtrack, The Legacy Collection, released in 2014. This definitive edition of the soundtrack, released on two discs, includes over 30 minutes of previously unreleased score. It also includes a number of demo tracks and the deleted song "Warthog Rhapsody," which originally saw release on the album Rhythm of the Pride Lands.

As an interesting aside: the soundtrack for The Lion King was the first album released during the Nielsen SoundScan era (since 1991) to sell 1 million copies in the vinyl format, reaching the milestone in 2014.

Keep in mind, the 2019 version of The Lion King has a separate soundtrack.


  1. "Circle of Life" (performed by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M.) (3:59)
  2. "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" (performed by Jason Weaver, Rowan Atkinson, and Laura Williams) (2:50)
  3. "Be Prepared" (performed by Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings) (3:40)
  4. "Hakuna Matata" (performed by Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jason Weaver, and Joseph Williams) (3:33)
  5. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (performed by Joseph Williams, Sally Dworsky, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, and Kristle Edwards) (2:57)
  6. "This Land" (score) (2:55)
  7. "...To Die For" (score) (4:17)
  8. "Under the Stars" (score) (3:45)
  9. "King of Pride Rock" (score) (5:59)
  10. "Circle of Life" (performed by Elton John) (4:51)
  11. "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" (performed by Elton John) (3:37)
  12. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (end title) (performed by Elton John) (4:07)

Tracks added in the 2003 Special Edition

  1. "The Morning Report" (performed by James Earl Jones, Jeff Bennett, and Evan Saucedo) (1:36)
  2. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight (remix)" (performed by Elton John) (4:08)

"Free to trope around all day:"

  • Background Music: Tracks 6-9 (7-10 on the Special Edition) are all background music. The Legacy Collection adds over 30 minutes of additional background music.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The least popular of John's soundtrack performances, "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", was not available for streaming or download on music sites like Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube Music (at least officially with that last one). Subverted nowadays as it is now available for streaming.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: In the film, "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" brings one of the finest examples.
  • Ending Theme: Elton John's version of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" would play over the closing credits.
  • "I Want" Song: "I Just Can't Wait to Be King"
  • Not in Front of the Kid: The film version of "Hakuna Matata" has Timon doing this to Pumbaa when he almost sings the word "farted". This earns the audience of the film a confused Aside Glance from Simba.
  • Talent Double: Most of the cast do not sing their parts in the songs. Of note is that in "I Just Can't Wait to be King" and "Hakuna Matata", there are spoken lines during the songs done by the characters' regular voice actors.
    • In "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", Jason Weaver replaces Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Young Simba, and Laura Williams replaces Niketa Calame as Young Nala, though Rowan Atkinson does sing as Zazu.
      • Which is odd, since his voice is replaced by Jeff Bennett for "The Morning Report"; Even James Earl Jones does his part as Mufasa in that Cut Song.invoked
    • "Be Prepared" averts this trope mostly: Jeremy Irons sang as Scar for 2/3 of the for before blowing out his voice on the "you won't get a sniff without me" line, which resulted in Jim Cummings filling in on the last verse. Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings all maintain their speaking roles in the song.
    • "Hakuna Matata" zig-zags it, with Broadway-trained Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella singing for Timon and Pumbaa, while Weaver returns as Young Simba, and Joseph Williams enters in place of Matthew Broderick as Adult Simba.
    • "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" brings Lane, Sabella, and Williams, along with Sally Dworsky replacing Moira Kelly as Adult Nala.
      • In general, replacing Broderick's voice at all has been called into question, due to him also being Broadway-trained.
  • Translated Cover Version: Got this in many countries as per usual with Disney films. In the French version, Scar's voice actor Jean Piat also famously did his singing for "Be Prepared".
  • Villain Song: "Be Prepared"