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Album: The Lion King SoundtrackReleased: 1994Charted:
The tag-line for the animated motion picture The Lion King
was "Life's greatest adventure is finding your place in the Circle of Life." Lyricist Tim Rice
was reportedly stunned by how quickly composer Elton John was able to put Rice's words to music. This effort was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination, but lost to "Can You Feel The Love Tonight
" from the same movie, also written by Tim Rice, and composed and sung by Elton John. The movie's version of this song in the opening scene was sung by Carmen Twillie, and Elton John's version is included on the soundtrack.
The Lion King
went on to become the best-grossing traditionally animated feature of all time, with the songs playing a key part. The song is also featured frequently in attractions that include The Lion King at Disney theme parks, such as parades.
This is one of Elton's favorite songs in his considerable canon. Working on The Lion King got him out of the cycle of recording and album and then touring, and it led to more work on musicals, as he later contributed to Aida, Billy Elliot and The Vampire Lestat.
Elton prefers "Circle Of Life" to his other Lion King hit contribution, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" While he rarely plays the later in concert, "Circle" is often in his setlist, as Elton thinks the lyric is "brilliant."
The song is one of the few hits Elton wrote without his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin. There were no hard feelings, as Taupin fully supported the effort. It was Tim Rice who approached Elton about putting the music to his words. Rice says that the movie studio didn't think Elton would do it, but when he asked, Elton was very excited to work on the project.
Disney had another hit on their hands the following year with the movie Pocahontas
, and once again, they made reference to the circle of life in the movie's theme song, "Colors Of The Wind
," as the heroine sings, "we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends."
Jennifer Hudson performed this on season three of American Idol during Top 9 week when Elton John was the guest mentor.