In 1994, lives were changed forever when “Circle of Life” from The Lion King was shared with the world. The song was composed by Sir Elton John who later offered up a pop version of the soundtrack hit, and for decades its been embedded in the minds of Disney animated film fans worldwide. Twenty-five years later we’ve received an offering of a live-action, star-studded remake, and although the film has gone on to gross over one billion dollars at the box office, Sir Elton John still isn’t impressed.
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The entertainment icon sat down with GQ and spoke about music, and when he was asked to share his thoughts on the new The Lion King film, he didn’t mince words. “The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up. Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn’t have the same impact,” he said. “The magic and joy were lost. 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.”
He also shared that he wanted to be more involved in the music-making process, but he was shunned from doing so. “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,” he added. “That makes me extremely sad. I’m so happy that the right spirit for the music lives on with the Lion King stage musical.”
Sir Elton keeps his ear to the ground when it comes to rising artists from various genres, and he’s quite knowledgable about what’s currently trending on the charts. He’s praised Khalid, Billie Eilish, A Tribe Called Quest, Lizzo, Teyana Taylor, Young Thug, and was rumored to have hit the studio with Future. When questioned about who he considers to be a star in today’s culture, Elton gave a surprising answer. According to the pop icon, there’s only one person who he thinks is truly living out that title.
“To be a star, you have to be a star for a long time and you have to do that by being a live performer. You can’t be a star just by making records,” he said. “That’s not going to happen. To be a star, you have to last for 50 years. You have to be a Barbra Streisand. You have to be a Paul McCartney. You have to be Sting. You have to be Fleetwood Mac. You have to be The Who. Christine And The Queens, in my opinion, is a huge star, but she hasn’t cracked it yet commercially. The only real star at the moment is Lady Gaga. She could have a career like Barbra Streisand if she wanted to. She’s got the ambition, she’s got the talent coming out of every pore of her body, so it’s up to her whether she wants it and I think she does want it.” Do you agree?