‘The Lion King’ soundtrack review: Beyonce and Donald Glover shine in mostly fantastic 2019 update to classic Disney songs

Zachary Perez Jones

Mega stars headline musical update to beloved 1994 animated film, but overall effort less fun than original

Zachary Perez Jones |

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Billy Eichner, Seth Rogan and John Oliver pose with the characters they voice, Timon, Pumba and Zazu.

The Lion King soundtrack was recently released ahead of the highly anticipated live-action version of the beloved 1994 animated classic. Unfortunately, some of the most important songs do not live up to the expectations set by the original soundtrack.

The opening number of the movie, Circle of Life, was definitely better on the 1994 soundtrack. The song starts off almost identically to the original and sets your hopes high, but they are quickly brought down by the main singer of the song, Lindiwe Mkhize, whose voice just isn't as developed as the original singers of the song, Carmen Twillie and Lebo M. Another disappointing thing about this iconic number is that the choir can seem washed out at many points during the song.

I Just Can't Wait to Be King is also somewhat unsatisfying. The backing music sounds rather electronic, unlike the rest of the numbers in this movie. The singers also lack full, developed voices, which gives the song a more Broadway feel and doesn't really fit the live-action style of the movie. 

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The reimagined version of Be Prepared is a huge improvement from the previous, cheesy song from 1994. The new version (featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor) is short at 2 minutes, but it has a very mysterious and threatening vibe to it that sets it apart from the rest of the album.

Hakuna Matata has been a crowd favourite for years, and the song, sung by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen in the new version, doesn't fail to impress. The song is not completely different from the original, but it still brings a renewed feeling of carefreeness and comedy that surpasses our expectations.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight is possibly the most anticipated song on the soundtrack, given the fact that it features Beyoncé and Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) and because Disney teased fans with a trailer featuring a couple of lines from the song. The song does not disappoint and feels magical, with a plentiful amount of harmony towards the end. It is definitely the best on the album and we can't wait to see what the song will look like when combined with the animation in the movie.

The soundtrack also includes other songs from Beyoncé and Elton John. One song sung by Beyoncé, Spirit, is a new addition for the live-action version of the movie and was released before the rest of the soundtrack was. The internet has already gone crazy for this song, which depicts a boy standing up for himself and ultimately fighting for his destiny. The song is a departure from the theme set by the rest of the album, as it has more of a pop feel. This song is also expected to be on Beyoncé’s upcoming album about The Lion King.

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Another new song for the live-action version is Never Too Late, sung by Elton John, who created the music for the original Lion King. This new song also deviates from the rest of the album due to the pop vibes but nonetheless, is a really catchy tune which might get stuck in your head! This song is very upbeat and uses African drums and chanting to give the song an African theme, which fits in with the rest of the movie.

The new soundtrack is available on Spotify and Apple Music right now and will be available to buy as a CD on the 19th. Beyoncé's Lion King inspired album is set to come out the same day, while the movie will be released in Hong Kong on the 25th of July.

Edited by Dannielle Higginbotham