I am not big on cartoons or animated features as they are now called; the only times I will watch one is with my grandchildren. I have to say that The Lion King was okay, which is high praise on my part, but the music from the film was spectacular. Let me add that I have also seen the Broadway play which was one of the most creative performances I have ever witnessed.
While The Lion King Soundtrack is not an Elton John album in the strictest sense, it is strongly associated with him. He and lyricist Tim Rice wrote five songs, three of which were nominated for Academy Awards, ultimately winning the Oscar for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” It also won a Golden Globe and a Grammy for best male pop vocal. The album has passed the 22 million mark in worldwide sales.
This soundtrack cannot be reviewed without mentioning Hans Zimmer, who co-produced the album and wrote five brilliant instrumentals which fit the movie well. He too received an Oscar, his being for Best Music, Original Score.
Elton John reworked three songs from the film for inclusion on its soundtrack. “Circle Of Life” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” were huge hits in the United States and both songs are pop music at its best. They contain two of the smoothest vocals of his career and have joined the ranks of his signature songs.
The version of “Circle Of Life” contained in the film — performed by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M with his African Chorus — was just about the perfect movie song. It is a philosophical celebration of life. And for me, watching the movie and listening to it with my grandchildren has served to make this song of the rise and fall of generations very powerful indeed. “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” provides a lot of fun and entertainment in just under three minutes. Elton John also provided a version of this song that captured its spirit well. “Hakuna Matata” was the third song nominated for an Oscar and features a nice vocal by Broadway veteran Nathan Lane.
The Lion King is a perfect soundtrack album. Elton’s work with Tim Rice may be different than his classic ’70’s material, but it is every bit as good. His contributions to this popular and creative release are perfect.