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Circle of Life: Wikis


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"Circle of Life"
Single by Elton John
from the album The Lion King soundtrack
Released 1994
Format CD single
Recorded 1993
Genre Pop/Rock/Soundtrack
Length 4:51
Writer(s) Elton John (music)
Tim Rice (lyrics)
Producer Hans Zimmer
Mark Mancina
Jay Rifkin
Chris Thomas
Elton John singles chronology
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight"
"Circle of Life"
Music sample
Film version
Music sample
Broadway version

"Circle of Life" is a song from Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King, composed by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice. It was sung by Carmen Twillie (female vocals) and Lebo M (opening isiZulu vocals) in the film as the opening song, and Elton John also sung a pop version which was included in the film's soundtrack and made into a music video. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song in 1995 together 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.


The Lion King

In The Lion King, the sun rises as the opening chant of the song calls out, with various animals all seemingly becoming alert to a single thing. Animals are shown traveling through various environments. As a giraffe and her calf step out into the sunlight, the first verse of the song begins. The giraffe notice a herd of animals in the distance and run over to join them.

As the first verse ends and the chorus begins, the camera pans upwards over a herd of animals to show Pride Rock. Zazu flies in, lands, and bows in front of King Mufasa.

Rafiki arrives and Sarabi is shown holding a young Simba. Rafiki anoints and blesses the cub before lifting him up and displaying him to the animals gathered below Pride Rock. The animals leap, stomp, and cry out in celebration. Towards the end of the song, the gathered animals are shown bowing. The camera slowly zooms out from Pride Rock, and on the final drumbeat the title card - The Lion King in red text over a black background - is shown.

The song is reprised at the end of the film by a chorus.

The Lion King musical

Rafiki lifts Simba into the air with Mufasa and Sarabi looking on (Paris)

In the musical version of The Lion King the opening chant is sung by Rafiki with two antelope and the chorus engaging in call and response. The length of the opening before the first verse varies in length between companies and Rafiki and one of the antelope ad-lib towards the end of the opening. As Rafiki sings, the sun rises behind her and two giraffes and a cheetah walk out onto the stage, shortly followed by a zebra.

As the first verse gets underway, white birds, antelope, and ostriches appear. Two elephants, more white birds, rhinoceroses and wildebeest walk up the aisle between the lower level of seats and up onto the stage. Zazu then appears as a kite swung around on a pole by his puppeteer.

Mufasa and Sarabi appear with their son Simba on Pride Rock as the two antelopes engage in more call and response. Rafiki goes over to them and takes the cub Simba, lifting him into the air as the song draws to a close. The animals below turn to face Pride Rock and bow as Simba is presented.

As in the film, the song is reprised at the end of the production by the chorus.

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
Recorded 2003
Genre Pop
Label Walt Disney Records

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.


Star Disney Appearances
Orlando Brown That's So Raven
Christy Carlson Romano Even Stevens, Kim Possible & Cadet Kelly
Kyla Pratt Proud Family
Hilary Duff Lizzie McGuire & Cadet Kelly
Tahj Mowry Smart Guy & Kim Possible
Raven-Symoné That's So Raven, Kim Possible & The Cheetah Girls
A.J. Trauth Even Stevens
Anneliese van der Pol That's So Raven

Popular culture

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 90s 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" (despite Tigers don't live in Africa). The short song parody took place similar to "Pride Rock" in the film, the character Yakko Warner took the role as Rafiki, and when the time came to hold up the cub, he accidentally dropped it and replies with "Ooh...I thought they were supposed to land on their feet!". This parody has become a favourite among the fans.

In the South Park episode A Very Crappy Christmas, the song and sequence is parodied when Mr. Hankey, an animated piece of excrement, sings to his son that he is as important as anything because he is a part of an ever turning 'cycle of poo'.

The Tenth Doctor finds himself unconsciously 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.

It is currently the main theme song for Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.

In Channel 4 comedy Green Wing, the character Sue White sings the song after giving birth to a lion herself, parodying the opening sequence.

Disney's Epcot park currently features a cinema-type film called "The Circle of Life" with three of the characters at the Walt Disney World Resort as well.

This song was also sung by American R&B singer Jennifer Hudson during her time as a contestant on season 3 of American Idol. After the performance, she was praised by the judges, fans, and critics.

On The Daily Show the song and segment was used with Barack Obama on the skit Barack Obama: He Completes Us.

YouTube celebrity ItsJustSomeRandomGuy had, on a video commenting on Disney's buyout of Marvel Comics, a parody of the "Circle of Life" scene starring the Marvel superheroes (Spider-Man wearing Mickey Mouse ears was Simba), saying Marvel's essence would be kept besides the "contract for life".

The song was covered in The X Factor (UK series 6) by contestant Joe McElderry.

In 2009, the song was used in a Modern Family episode.

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