Saturday, July 16, 1994

July 16, 1994: The Lion King soundtrack hit #1

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Originally posted June 10, 2011. Last updated September 3, 2018.

The Lion King (soundtrack/cast)

Elton John/Tim Rice/Hans Zimmer

Soundtrack Released: May 30, 1994

Stage Debut: July 8, 1997

Sales (in millions):
US: 11.0 S, 1.0 C
UK: 0.3 S
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 18.4 S+C

US: 110-S, 162 C
UK: 4 S
Canada: 15-S
Australia: --

S soundtrack
C cast album

Quotable: --

Genre: Disney/show tunes

Album Tracks – Soundtrack:

  1. The Circle of Life (CARMEN TWILLIE)
  2. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King (JASON WEAVER)
  3. Be Prepared (JEREMY IRONS)
  5. Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (JOSEPH WILLIAMS/ SALLY DWORSKY)
  6. This Land (HANS ZIMMER)
  7. To Die For (HANS ZIMMER)
  8. Under the Stars (HANS ZIMMER)
  9. King of Pride Rock (HANS ZIMMER)
  10. The Circle of Life (ELTON JOHN) ((8/27/94, #15a US, #11 UK, #2 AC, airplay: 2 million)
  11. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King (ELTON JOHN)
  12. Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (ELTON JOHN) (5/21/94, #2a US, #14 UK, #1 AC. sales: ½ million, airplay: 1 million)


A 2004 special edition added “an unreleased song, ‘The Morning Report,’ sung by Jeff Bennett, James Earl Jones, and Evan Saucedo” SL and written by John & Rice, “and yet another remix of Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight,’ this time with added percussion.” SL

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Album Tracks – Cast Album:

  1. Circle of Life (Tsidii Le Loka)
  2. Grassland Chant (Ensemble)
  3. The Morning Report (Samuel E. Wright)
  4. The Lioness Hunt (Ensemble)
  5. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King (Scott Irby-Ranniar)
  6. Chow Down (Tracy Nicole Chapman)
  7. They Live in You (Samuel E. Wright)
  8. Be Prepared (Ensemble)
  9. The Stampede (Ensemble)
  10. Rafiki Mourns (Tsidii de Loka)
  11. Hakuna Matata (Max Casella)
  12. One by One (Ensemble)
  13. The Madness of King Scar (Heather Headley)
  14. Shadowland (Heather Headley)
  15. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Lebo M)
  16. Endless Night (Jason Raize)
  17. Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Heather Headley)
  18. He Lives in You (Reprise) (Jason Raize)
  19. Simba Confrots Scar (Robert Elhai)
  20. King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life (Reprise) (Heather Headley)


“Walt Disney Pictures had its fourth straight massive hit with an animated movie musical in the summer of 1994 with its tale of the coming of age of a young lion. The movie studio changed composers, replacing Alan Menken, who wrote The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, with Hans Zimmer (instrumental score) and Elton John (songs); lyricist Tim Rice, who took over on Aladdin after the death of Howard Ashman, remained in place.” WR

“Elton John doesn’t seem like a natural choice to write for a Disney musical, but he rose to the task on The Lion King, transcending his usual penchant for the softest of soft rock.” AZ He “took a leaf from the Paul Simon Graceland songbook and filled his music with references to South African mbaqanga.” WR John’s “collaboration with Tim Rice (former writing partner of Andrew Lloyd Webber) helps connect the soundtrack to the theatrical lineage of all Disney musicals – so much so that, like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King was eventually adapted for Broadway.” AZ

However, from a content standpoint, “there wasn’t that much of it.” WR “but that didn’t keep this album from topping the charts as the movie harvested hundreds of millions of dollars all summer.” WR “Undistinguished songs like Can You Feel the Love Tonight? are far outnumbered by stirring, stately tunes that lent the film so much of its sense of pageant and play.” AZ

However, “while it is hard to argue with the ecology lesson behind Circle of Life or the impossibly infectious rumba of Hakuna Matata,” SL there’s really only “about five songs here, three of which are repeated at the end in versions by John.” WR

Then this “already padded soundtrack was further padded with four excerpts from Zimmer’s score.” WR Of course, some would suggest that “the true heart of the original soundtrack…was the…inspiring and majestic score.” SL

In 1997, The Lion King was turned into a stage musical directed by Julie Taymor. It featured “actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets.” WK It debuted on July 8, 1997 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota and premiered on Broadway on October 15, 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. It is still running (although now at the Minskoff Theatre) after 8500 performances, now making it the “third longest-running show in history and the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, having grossed more than $1 billion.” WK

It opened in London on October 19, 1999 at West End’s Lyceum Theatre and is still going after 7500 performances. “In September 2014, The Lion King became the top-earning title in box-office history for both stage productions and films, surpassing the record previously held by The Phantom of the Opera.” WK

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