Circle of Life
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|"Circle of Life"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album The Lion King soundtrack|
|Released||August 9, 1994|
|Format||CD, vinyl record (7"), audio cassette|
Santa Monica, California
BOP Recording Studios
Mmabatho, South Africa
|Genre||Pop, soft rock|
|Writer(s)||Elton John (music)
Tim Rice (lyrics)
|Elton John singles chronology|
"Circle of Life" is a song from Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King, composed by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice. The song was performed by Carmen Twillie (female vocals) and Lebo M (opening Zulu vocals) as the film's opening song. Elton John also sang a pop version of the song with the London Community Gospel Choir which was included in the film's soundtrack and made into a music video. The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song in 1994 along with two other songs from The Lion King: "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Hakuna Matata". "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won the award. The song reached #11 in the UK and #18 in the US.
The song is also featured frequently in attractions that include The Lion King at Disney theme parks, such as parades.
Michael Crawford sang this song as part of a medley for The Disney Album in 2001.
In the film's musical adaption, the opening sequence is altered noticeably in certain ways; for example, the song is sung by the Rafiki character accompanied by a chorus of multiple background singers garbed in unusual, distinctive costumes or manipulating numerous different puppets resembling Serengeti fauna rather than being performed by an unseen voiceover, as in the original film. The sun rising on the Pride Lands, Rafiki commences the start of the production by kicking off the song and summoning the various animals of the surrounding area for baby Simba's presentation. As the first two verses of the musical number end, a representation of Pride Rock appears onstage carrying its two reigning rulers, Queen Sarabi cradling the small puppet representing her newborn cub in her arms. As the choir chants excitedly in the background, Rafiki accompanies them atop Pride Rock to bless the baby prince before raising him high in the air, singing joyfully alongside the bowing chorus.
At the end of Act II Simba's friends and family acknowledge him as the rightful king after Simba and the Pridelanders defeated Scar and the hyenas. Rafiki crowns Simba with the mantle of kingship after his victory and Simba ascends Pride Rock. He then gives a mighty roar across the whole kingdom and the animals come back to the Pridelands to recognize Simba as the rightful king. The assembly of animals that appear are slightly different from the beginning of Act 1, with no wildebeests, no adult elephant (only the baby elephant) and two zebras instead of three. Only half of the bird ladies from the beginning appear along with three cranes and the birds as kites on poles. The lionesses appear to celebrate the continuing circle of life before the animals as they present a newborn cub, the future lion king. The circle of life begins again with Simba and Nala having a newborn lion cub of their own. The musical ends as Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to all of the animals. A blackout finishes Act II and leads to the curtain call at the end of the second act
Circle of Stars version
|"Circle of Life"|
|Single by Disney Channel Circle of Stars|
|from the album DisneyMania 2|
|Released||October 7, 2003|
|Format||Digital download, CD single|
|Disney Channel Circle of Stars singles chronology|
The song was re-recorded in 2003 by the Disney Channel Circle of Stars, a group of actors and actresses who have appeared in Disney Channel television series and original movies. The line-up was significantly different when their next re-recording, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," was released two years later.
The Lion King 1½
In DisneyToon's 2004 direct-to-video film The Lion King 1½, Timon and Pumbaa are watching this musical number in a dark theater when Timon suddenly uses a remote control to fast forward to where they appear in the film. Pumbaa argues that the film shouldn't go out of order and attempts to rewind the film back to the beginning. Timon and Pumbaa start fighting over control of the film until they agree that the film should tell their side of the story. Throughout the rest of the film, it is occasionally interrupted to have Timon and Pumbaa comment on whatever is happening.
Due to the film's impact on popular culture, the song "Circle of Life" is often referenced in other media.
The opening to the Lion King was parodied in the 1990s cartoon Animaniacs in which the theme of "Circle Of Life" was parodied with "Surprises In life" vocals by Jim Cummings and Cree Summer as lead singer, the whole parody is known as "The Tiger Prince". The short song parody took place similar to "Pride Rock" in the film, the character Yakko Warner taking the role as Rafiki, and when the time came to hold up the cub, he accidentally drops it and replies with "Ooh...I thought they were supposed to land on their feet!"
The Tenth Doctor finds himself subconsciously quoting "Circle of Life" during a confrontation with the Sycorax leader in the season two premiere of the revived Doctor Who series, The Christmas Invasion.
In an episode of the television series The Critic, there was a song that parodied "The Circle of Life" involving New York City pests and the opening vocals of Hepatitis. In the 17th episode of season 4, A Very Crappy Christmas, in South Park, Mr Hankey the "Christmas Poo" parodies this song, by singing a song called "The Circle of Poo" with his son Cornwallis.
It is currently the main theme song for Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney's Epcot park currently features a cinema-type film called Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable from 1995 with Timon, Pumbaa and Simbaa discussing environmental topics at the Walt Disney World Resort as well.
In Channel 4 comedy Green Wing, the character Sue White sings the song after giving birth to a lion herself, parodying the opening sequence.
In 2009, the song was used in the pilot episode of Modern Family, when Cameron holds up his and Mitchell's newly adopted baby in a parody of the Disney film.
In one of Disney's many self references, this also appeared as a false beginning of Chicken Little when Buck was trying to open the movie.
At the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, President Barack Obama jokingly claimed he was going to show his long-form birth video, spoofing an earlier controversy about refusing to show his long-form birth certificate to prove he was, in fact, born in the United States. The opening chant was played from the film, and Simba was seen being lifted to the skies. This was used to poke fun at Obama's Kenyan heritage.
The opening chant was used in Douster's electronic track from 2009 called "King of Africa".
In 2011, Celtic Woman performed this song as part of their 'Believe' show, filmed at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. The song was one of two sung as a tribute to Broadway (the other being 'I Dreamed a Dream' from Les Miserables). It was sung by Lisa Lambe, with additional vocals by Chloë Agnew and Lisa Kelly. This version was slightly different to the original Disney version as Lambe sung the line "It's the Circle of Life" in a different way. The original version drew this line out; however, Lambe sung it slightly quicker, thus making the song different while remaining recognisable as the 'Circle of Life'. This song is also notable in that composer and director David Downes played another instrument other than the piano during the show - he played a whistle during the introduction to the song. Downes most usually plays the piano during shows, and this is the first time that he has played another instrument during a show to date.
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||30|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||5|
|Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)||1|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||3|
|Germany (Media Control AG)||10|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||5|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||13|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||2|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||11|
|US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||2|
|US Billboard Hot 100||18|
|US Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs)||26|
- Josh Wilmes, ed. (24 May 1994). "The Lion King: Film Notes". lionking.org. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
- Rosenthal 2001, p. 379.
- Rosental 2001, p. 380.
- Willis 2000, p. 52.
- "1994 Academy Awards Nominees and Winners by Category". BoxOfficeMojo.com. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
- "Elton John – Circle of Life – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
- "Ultratop.be – Elton John – Circle of Life" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Adult Contemporary Tracks" (PHP). RPM 60 (15). 31 October 1994. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- "100 Hit Tracks & Where to Find Them" (PHP). RPM 60 (16). 7 November 1994. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Elton John search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
- "Charts.org.nz – Elton John – Circle of Life". Top 40 Singles.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Elton John – Circle of Life". Singles Top 60.
- "Elton John – Circle of Life – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
- "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart.
- "Elton John Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs for Elton John.
- "Elton John: Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- Rosenthal, Elizabeth (2001). His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John. Billboard Books. ISBN 978-0-8230-8893-5.
- Willis, John (2000). Screen World 1995 Film Annual. Volume 46. Applause Books. ISBN 978-1-55783-233-7.