Elton John Slams Disney’s Remake of The Lion King: 'They Messed the Music Up'

Disney’s remake of The Lion King may have made a boatload of money, earning over $1 billion globally since its release in July, but there’s one person who wasn’t a fan: Elton John.

The legendary artist, who famously composed the score to the 1994 original, gave his thoughts about the new film during a recent sit down with British GQ to promote his new memoir, Me (out now).

Candid as ever, John called the new version of the film “a huge disappointment to me.”

Why was he so underwhelmed? Apparently, it had to do with the film’s treatment of his music.

“I believe they messed the music up,” John said. “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.”

“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,” John added. “That makes me extremely sad.”

Elton John and The Lion King

A pair of albums were released for Disney’s Lion King remake.

One was a soundtrack featuring the film’s stars like Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen and more singing the film’s hits like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life” — plus a new song, “Spirit,” which John co-wrote for Beyoncé.

Another, The Lion King: The Gift, featured “Spirit” and other music from Beyoncé inspired by the film. She produced and curated the album.

John noted to British GQ that neither matched the success of the soundtrack for the original animated film, which took home four Grammys, two Golden Globes, and two Academy Awards (for Best Original Song and Best Original Score) back in 1994; topped the Billboard 200 album charts for 10 nonconsecutive weeks; and earned a diamond certification after selling 10 million units.

“The soundtrack hasn’t had nearly the same impact in the charts that it had 25 years ago, when it was the bestselling album of the year,” John said. “The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box-office success.”

He added that the Tony-winning stage musical — playing on Broadway and around the world — makes up for it.

“I’m so happy that the right spirit for the music lives on with the Lion King stage musical,” he said. 

Beyoncé at the premiere of The Lion King

Back in July, Beyoncé spoke out about her work on The Lion King‘s album.

“This soundtrack is a love letter to Africa,” she said.

“I wanted it to be authentic to what is beautiful about the music in Africa,” she continued, describing the use of “a lot” of drums and “incredible new sounds mixed with some of the producers from America.”

“We’ve kind of created our own genre and I feel like the soundtrack is the first soundtrack where it becomes visual in your mind,” Beyoncé explained. “The soundscape is more than just the music because each song tells the story of the film.”

Queen Bey’s Lion King LP also included the likes of her husband, JAY-Z, daughter Blue Ivy Carter, Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams.

“Spirit,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Kid Digital Song Sales Chart following the single’s release.


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