Elton John canceled original ‘Lion King’ song, says Disney legend – Inside the Magic – Inside the Magic

Elton John canceled original ‘Lion King’ song, says Disney legend – Inside the Magic – Inside the Magic

Elton John blocked the original version of his most iconic song The Lion King (1994), according to the Broadway star and Disney legend who was supposed to sing it.

Credit: Disney+

The Lion King is arguably the pinnacle of the 1990s Disney Renaissance, which began when the desperate company hired Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to breathe some life into its struggling animation arm. The little Mermaid (1989), The beauty and the Beast (1991), and Aladdin (1992) took Walt Disney Animation to the top of the box office and garnered critical attention, but it wasn’t to be. The Lion King which truly broke the glass ceiling for talking cartoon animal films.

The film, directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff from a screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton, became the highest-grossing film of 1994, the second highest-grossing film of all time (at era), and remains the highest-grossing traditional animated film of all time. He also received critical acclaim and ultimately won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” a ballad by Elton John and Tim Rice.

On the same subject: “The Lion King” stage show is coming to Disney+

The duo was also nominated for two other songs (“Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life”), but “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” became the group’s massive hit. Lion King soundtrack to the film, featuring Elton John himself singing a version of the theme song and a mid-film rendition sung by Kristle Edwards, Joseph Williams, Sally Dworsky, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella.

Two lions animated by "The Lion King" cuddle up affectionately against each other on a purple and blue gradient background.  The lion on the left has a reddish mane, while the lioness on the right has light fur.  Both carry content expressions.
Credit: Disney

However, according to Nathan Lane, who voiced Timon the meerkat in The Lion King, the song was originally intended to be sung in its entirety by him and Ernie Sabella, who voiced Pumba the Warthog. In a recent interview with Weekly EntertainmentLane revealed that Elton John didn’t like the idea of ​​the ballad taking a comedic tone.

Nathan Lane said: “Originally we sang everything. Elton John was mortified that the warthog and the meerkat sang it. He said: “The reason I wrote the music was because I wanted to have a Disney love song. I didn’t want it to be the rat and the pig singing it.’”

A young lion cub, a warthog and a meerkat walk side by side on a fallen log in front of a beautiful cascading waterfall amidst lush greenery.  The scene evokes a sense of adventure and camaraderie among the trio.
Credit: Disney

While many artists might still be upset that an Oscar-winning song was taken away from them (and it’s true that Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella still sing the song’s intro and outro), Lane seems to think that Elton John has been corrected. He continued: “We have done [record] a version. We sang everything in the voices of our characters. It wasn’t like we were going to do our legit version of Broadway. We did two very typical character voices. It’s hard to do that and be romantic. Elton was right… Fortunately, everyone came to their senses.

Related: 25 Years Later, ‘The Lion King’ Needs the ‘Hamilton’ Treatment

“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was re-recorded by Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen for the 2019 photorealistic film. The Lion King remake, directed by Jon Favreau. The remake grossed over $1.6 billion at the box office but didn’t have the same effect on pop culture as the original, which remains a high point for the company.

A close-up of a lion cub in The Lion King: Mufasa
Credit: Disney

A live-action/photorealistic prequel titled Mufasa: The Lion King is set to hit theaters in December, but notably, Elton John was not asked back to write the film’s music. A source close to the legendary musician said:

“After giving the studio timeless classics like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life,” Elton was blindsided by this huge snub. For his legacy to be ignored in such a callous manner is a bitter pill to swallow. He feels hurt and disillusioned by Disney’s actions! »

Maybe if he had let Timon and Pumbaa sing it, Disney would have asked him back.

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