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The Lion King
Album Cover Art
Score Composed and Co-Produced by:

Score Co-Arranged and Co-Produced by:
Lebo M.

Score Conducted by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Score Arranged by:
David Fleming
Steve Mazzaro

Score Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Walt Fowler
Suzette Moriarty
Kevin Kaska
Carl Rydlund
David Metzger
Dave Giuli
Jennifer Hammond
Martin McClellan
Marshall Bowen
Aaron Meyer
Melissa Orquiza
Chris Anderson-Bazzoli
Nicholas Cazares
Brandon Bailo

Songs Composed by:
Elton John
Tim Rice
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Mark Mancina
Jay Rifkin

Songs Produced by:
Pharrell Williams
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Walt Disney Records
(July 19th, 2019)
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Regular U.S. release.
The score and compilation soundtrack were nominated for Grammy Awards. The song "Spirit" was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you seek to supplement the 1994 Hans Zimmer score with different and sometimes compelling arrangements of his two main themes.

Avoid it... if you expect the heart and soul of the original soundtrack's songs and score to persist in this more technically polished but emotionally lacking remake.
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WRITTEN 7/25/20
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The Lion King (2019): (Hans Zimmer/Various) Originally suggested to be a shot-for-shot remake of the classic 1994 animated Disney film, Jon Favreau's 2019 photorealistic remake of The Lion King eventually ran 30 minutes longer and didn't faithfully follow its predecessor's exact direction. And yet, at the end of the day, audiences and critics felt that the 2019 version didn't offer anything new of substance to the story, for the film had lost the soul of the original product. A young lion in Africa, Simba, is destined to overcome the loss of his revered father and king of the land, Mufasa, at the paws of his evil uncle, Scar, to discover his place atop Pride Rock after much self-discovery with the assistance of an assortment of supporting comedy characters. The production attempted to right some ethnic wrongs of the original by expanding its cast of African-American vocal talent to most of the leading roles. The return of legendary James Earl Jones as Mufasa was critical to 2019's The Lion King, though other casting choices were not as successful. The loss of Jeremy Irons as Scar, despite Irons' professed interest in returning, was a substantial detriment to the remake. John Oliver is terribly distracting as the hornbill, Zazu. Perhaps most detrimental to the endeavor is the fact that the animals themselves just don't look right. No matter how many times animators attempt to provide human facial expressions to animals, all of that processing power cannot seem to make it work. Still, audiences propelled The Lion King to become the second highest grossing film of 2019, and the soundtrack's iconic music once again enjoyed mainstream attention. The original 1994 soundtrack for the concept was a true phenomenon, its songs and score by the likes of Elton John, Hans Zimmer, and Lebohang Morake (Lebo M.) immensely popular to this day. That group returned for 2019's The Lion King, but with different supporting influences. For John, who wrote and performed one new song for this film, the entrance of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, the voice of Nala in the picture, led to a shift in the tone of the songs towards a more contemporary ambience, including one new song for her to perform due to Nala's increased presence in the story. For Zimmer, his collaboration with Mark Mancina is long, long gone, and he turned to Pharell Williams, along with Remote Control regulars David Fleming and Steve Mazzaro, to help rearrange the score.

The production's efforts to involve a more diverse cast and crew in The Lion King directly carried over to the talent and processes involved with the soundtrack. Knowles-Carter's own song was moved from the end credits to the actual story by Zimmer's recommendation during planning phases, infusing a distinctly gospel tone in the movie. The song "He Lives in You" from the "Rhythm of the Pride Lands" album and the Broadway production is performed by Lebo M. here and inserted into the middle of the end credits. It represents an intriguing infusion of Mark Mancina and Jay Rifkin back into this equation and is arguably a more authentic addition to this film than the new Knowles-Carter and John songs. Those two artists were supposed to have a duet featured over the start of the end credits, but it didn't make the cut, forcing John and lyricist Tim Rice to pen "Never Too Late" for that placement. Zimmer, for his part, was terrified about screwing up his Academy Award-winning score, but the reception he received while performing this music on stage led him to return. The composer, never one to miss the opportunity to dilute a score by emphasizing the process over the product, decided to supplement the standard Hollywood orchestral musicians with the "Re-Collective Orchestra," an ensemble consisting of only black performers, and record the entire endeavor live, as if the score was being performed to a concert audience. Favreau encouraged the score to follow adaptations that had been made for the Broadway production, and Zimmer supplemented those changes with a number of his own tweaks to correct his perceived faults with the original work. In the end, unfortunately, Zimmer, Williams, and Knowles-Carter did manage to sully the end result, yielding a soundtrack that loses the impact of the original. John himself was highly annoyed by the result and summed up this soundtrack's ills quite well, stating, "The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up. Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn't have the same impact. The magic and joy were lost. The soundtrack hasn't had nearly the same impact in the charts that it had 25 years ago... I wish I'd been invited to the party more, but the creative vision for the film and its music was different this time around and I wasn't really welcomed or treated with the same level of respect. That makes me extremely sad. I'm so happy that the right spirit for the music lives on with the 'Lion King' stage musical."

The songs of the 2019 remake of The Lion King are largely intact, with the excruciating exception of "Be Prepared." The voice of Lebo M. is indispensable in "The Circle of Life" and its "Nants' Ingonyama" supporting chant, and the execution of the song here is adequate but suffers from a poor mix between the lead voice and background elements. This imbalance, which forces the lead vocals into a far too dry and dominant placement compared to a muted background ensemble, extends throughout the whole soundtrack. This recording also expectedly pales compared to Lebo M.'s stunning performance of the song at the 2014 HAVASI Symphonic concert in Budapest. For enthusiasts of this soundtrack, the performance of "The Circle of Life" at that concert (readily available for viewing online) will be an emotionally powerful experience, and from a broader perspective, aside from some audio distortion caused by the solo recorder being too close to the microphone, it represents one of the best performances of a piece of film music ever to exist on stage. At the very least, it begs the question of why Lebo M. wasn't given the opportunity to perform all the vocals in the 2019's remake of that song. For all of Zimmer's toil in arranging the song for the remake, he was badly outclassed by the music producers for that 2014 tour. The pair of comedy songs fare better, "I Just Can't Wait to be King" and "Hakuna Matata" afforded superior percussion and background choral lines. Meanwhile, "Be Prepared" is an unequivocal disaster in this film. How could Disney allow its villains' songs in both its back-to-back remakes of 2020, this and Aladdin, to become so marginalized? Originally, Favreau wanted to axe the song in totality, but he decided to work with Zimmer to turn part of it into a spoken monologue with new Rice words over score and only feature a few token bars of the actual song. This choice was a disaster, reducing the "song" to an afterthought because the director and composer couldn't creatively adapt it. While Jeremy Irons' can be teased for his awkward performance of this song in the original film (Irons actually did sing professionally on stage for a period of his career), his snarling but oddly sophisticated persona is badly missed in this film and song. The instrumental personality of "Be Prepared" is also completely changed by Zimmer and his team, with the quirky but effective panpipes replaced by a more ominous, militaristic march better suited to the gloominess of Zimmer in the 2010's. The performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor here is half-hearted and defeats the whole purpose of having a functionally entertaining villain's song.

Ratings Icon
Average: 2.82 Stars
***** 27 5 Stars
**** 38 4 Stars
*** 57 3 Stars
** 48 2 Stars
* 40 1 Stars
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RE: The Lion King (2019)
Sam - July 30, 2020, at 8:07 p.m.
1 comment  (4877 views)
Filmtracks vs. Zimmer, continued
The Laughing Testicle - July 27, 2020, at 5:11 p.m.
1 comment  (608 views)

Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 77:32
• 1. Circle of Life/Nants' Ingonyama - performed by Brown Lindiwe Mkhize and Lebo M. (4:01)
• 2. Life's Not Fair (1:43)
• 3. Rafiki's Fireflies (1:52)
• 4. I Just Can't Wait to Be King - performed by JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and John Oliver (3:22)
• 5. Elephant Graveyard (6:38)
• 6. Be Prepared - performed by Chiwetel Ejiofor (2:03)
• 7. Stampede (7:46)
• 8. Scar Takes the Throne (2:50)
• 9. Hakuna Matata - performed by Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, JD McCrary, and Donald Glover (4:11)
• 10. Simba is Alive! (3:38)
• 11. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - performed by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen (1:24)
• 12. Can You Feel the Love Tonight - performed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Donald Glover, Billy Eichner, and Seth Rogen (3:02)
• 13. Reflections of Mufasa (5:09)
• 14. Spirit - performed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (4:33)
• 15. Battle for Pride Rock (11:01)
• 16. Remember/King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life Finale (3:09)
• 17. Never Too Late - performed by Elton John (4:09)
• 18. He Lives in You - performed by Lebo M. (5:05)
• 19. Mbube - performed by performed by Lebo M. (1:56)

Notes Icon
The insert includes a lengthy note from Hans Zimmer, lyrics to all the songs, and a list of performers.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Lion King are Copyright © 2019, Walt Disney Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/25/20 (and not updated significantly since).
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