Hakuna Matata (song)

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"Hakuna Matata"
Single by Jimmy Cliff and Lebo M
from the album Rhythm of the Pride Lands
B-side "He Lives in You"
Released 1995
Format CD single, CD maxi
Recorded April 1994; BOP Studios, Mmabatho, ZA
Genre Pop, reggae fusion
Length 4:24
Label Polydor
Writer(s) Elton John, Tim Rice
Producer(s) Jay Rifkin, Fabian Cooke, Mark Mancina
Certification Silver (France, 1995)
Music sample
Alternative cover
CD maxi

"Hakuna Matata" is a song from Disney's 32nd animated feature The Lion King.[1] The song is based on Timon and Pumbaa's catchphrase in the movie, Hakuna matata, which is a Swahili phrase; it means 'no worries'. It is characterized by its simple 4/4 time, upbeat message and catchy lyrics.


The musical score was written by Elton John and the lyrics by Tim Rice. In the film the song is sung by Timon (a meerkat voiced by Nathan Lane), Pumbaa (a warthog voiced by Ernie Sabella), and Simba, a young lion voiced by Jason Weaver (singing voice as a cub) and Joseph Williams (as an adult). The two main comedy characters in the film, (Timon and Pumbaa), talk to Simba about moving forward from their troubled pasts and forgetting their worries, and Simba grows from cub to adult as the song progresses. The song also provides a backstory for Pumbaa, explaining that he was ostracized from animal society for his excessive flatulence. It contains several breaks at which the music grinds to a halt and then starts again. It makes use of a large proportion of the orchestra as well as many other more unusual instruments including an elaborate drum kit.

A second version of the song, produced for the companion album Rhythm of the Pride Lands, was performed by Jimmy Cliff featuring Lebo M. This version of the song is slightly modified the previously unreleased verse focusing on Timon's past being partially rewritten with a different instrument arrangement but remains very similar to the original. It was released as a single with "He Lives in You" as a B-side, and was ultimately used in the Broadway theatrical version of The Lion King.

Rice is said to have got the idea for the lyrics for the song from watching the comedy series Bottom and at one point wanted the show's stars Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson to play Timon and Pumbaa.

Early production[edit]

The song was based on an earlier song written early on in the production stage called "Warthog Rhapsody".[citation needed] Although the two songs shared the same message and position in the film, when Elton and Tim began to work on the music the song was completely rewritten and it eventually evolved into "Hakuna Matata". "Warthog Rhapsody" was eventually re-produced and released on Rhythm of the Pride Lands. The melody of Warthog Rhaspody was used in The Lion King 1½ for the song "That's All I Need".


Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase that is frequently translated as "no worries". In a bonus features of The Lion King Special Edition DVD, the film's production team claims that it picked up the term from a tour guide while on safari in Kenya. It was then developed into an ideology that, along with the seemingly antithetical value of duty to the monarchy, is central to the moral content of the film.

The title phrase is pronounced with American English phonology within the song, including a flapped "t", rather than as it is pronounced in Swahili.

Critical reception[edit]

The song proved enormously popular and was nominated for Best Song at the Academy Awards in 1995 and lost only to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", one of three Lion King song nominations (the third one was "Circle of Life").[2] It was also ranked 99th in the AFI's list of the 100 best American movie songs of all time, Disney's fourth and last entry of songs on the list (the others being "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio at #7, "Some Day My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at #19, and "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast at #62).[3]

A shortened version of "Hakuna Matata" was used as the theme song of the spinoff Timon & Pumbaa TV show.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Australian pop star Dannii Minogue performed the song on a UK Disney TV special.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song in their 1995 album When You Wish Upon a Chipmunk, with Alvin and Simon performing Timon and Pumbaa's parts, respectively, and replacing "warthog" with "chipmunk".
  • In one of Disney's many self references, the "Hakuna Matata" song can be heard briefly in the 1995 Pixar film Toy Story, in which it was played in Andy's mom's car while Molly sees Woody and Buzz Lightyear through one of the side view mirrors.
  • Bunny Wailer covered the song on Reggae for Kids: Movie Classics.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Merv Griffin Show", Elaine says that she was caught in the office singing "Hakuna Matata".
  • In the film Mouse Hunt, Ernie Smuntz (Nathan Lane) bows to a sheik who is seeking to bid for his home and greets him with the words "Hakuna matata," a reference to Nathan Lane's portrayal of Timon.
  • It appears in Mannheim Steamroller's 1999 album Mannheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse.
  • The song was covered by Jamaican group Baha Men for the Disneymania CD.
  • The song was covered by Debby Ryan for the Disneymania 7 CD.
  • On Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Whiskers says "Do you remember 'Ohana' and all that stuff? Or was it Hakuna Matata?" "Ohana" might also be a reference to Lilo and Stitch because Ohana was used in that movie.
  • On the episode of Moesha, Frank (William Allen Young) says to his work friend on the line "Hakuna Good-bye, Bye" on "The Whistle Blower" that aired in 1996.
  • In an episode of Pinky and the Brain while Pinky and the Brain are trapped in the wilderness, Pinky tries to cheer up the agitated Brain by saying he will tell him a phrase, and Pinky's phrase turns out to be "Hakuna Matata".
  • In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Genie turns into Pumbaa and says "Hakuna Matata"
  • In the Stitch! episode "A Stinky Episode", Stitch says "Skunkuna Matata!" while throwing a skunk-like creature into the air.
  • The Broadway musical The Book of Mormon mentioned Hakuna Matata in the song "Hasa Diga Eebowai" where one of the characters asks "Does it mean no worries for the rest of our days?"
  • On 2012 album Disney - Koe no Oujisama Vol.2, which features various Japanese voice actors covering Disney songs, this song was covered by Hiro Shimono and Nobuhiko Okamoto
  • On the A&E hit show "Duck Dynasty" while feeding crickets to a pet monitor in the Duck Call Shop, Martin is studying it for school, Uncle Si talks about how the monitor has a chance to do something in "The Circle of Life" and then saying Hakuna Matata, thus making two references to "The Lion King".

Track listings[edit]

CD single
  1. "Hakuna Matata" — 4:24
  2. "He Lives in You" — 4:51
CD maxi
  1. "Hakuna Matata" (rap version) — 3:50
  2. "Warthog Rhapsody" by Nathan Lane & Ernie Sabella — 3:06
  3. "Hakuna Matata" (album version) — 4:24



  1. ^ King, Alex P. (2004). Hit-parade — 20 ans de tubes (in French). Paris: Pascal. p. 339. ISBN 2-35019-009-9. 
  2. ^ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Academy Awards Database". Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  3. ^ American Film Institute (2004). "The Top Movie Songs of All Time" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  4. ^ a b c d "JIMMY CLIFF & LEBO M. - HAKUNA MATATA (CHANSON)". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  5. ^ a b "Single top 100 over 1995" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  6. ^ German Singles Chart Charts-surfer.de (Retrieved August 6, 2008)
  7. ^ a b "JIMMY CLIFF singles". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  8. ^ 1995 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved August 6, 2008)
  9. ^ 1995 French Singles Chart Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved January 30, 2009)
  10. ^ French certifications Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved August 6, 2008)

External links[edit]