To say the 2019 version of The Lion King has been a success is an understatement—it’s raked in $1 billion worldwide, audiences and critics loved it and the soundtrack, and accompanying bonus album, was curated by one Beyoncé. But one person wasn’t a fan of the remake and he didn’t hold back on why he wasn’t feeling the love (tonight).
Elton John was interviewed by British GQ and while he didn’t directly answer if he’d seen the new Lion King, he certainly had feelings about it, in particular the music.
“The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up,” said John. “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.” But the “Tiny Dancer” singer wasn’t done. “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. The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box-office success.”
Then, perhaps, the real truth came out. “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.”
Elton does have a point. Considering how closely the film stayed true to the original, it’s a wonder he wasn’t asked to contribute more. He did co-write five songs for the 1994 film, after all. That being said, Elton wasn’t totally excluded from the process. In fact, he reworked some of the classic songs he and Tim Rice penned, as well as a new song for the closing credits, “Never Too Late,” but perhaps it didn’t feel like enough for Elton.
It should be noted that he didn’t say anything negative about Beyoncé’s curated album, The Lion King: The Gift, the separate soundtrack of original songs which featured African artists and her daughter Blue Ivy. So Bey, who also played the role of Nala in the update, probably isn’t somewhere licking her wounds. But, still.
With awards season coming up, it wouldn’t be surprising if Disney submitted Beyoncé’s “Spirit” for the Best Original Song at the 2020 Oscars and John could very well be a contender himself, thanks to the singer’s biopic, Rocketman. If the two movies face off though, it’s clear which flick John will be supporting.