Elton John did not mince words. In fact, he decided to throw down the hammer regarding the 2019 remake of The Lion King and its subsequent soundtrack, which featured modern pop stars like (Beyoncé, Donald Glover) and actors with varying degrees of vocal talent (Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner) seeking to recapture the magic of the 1994 original.
“The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up,” Elton told British GQ. “Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn’t have the same impact. 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 Lion King soundtrack and Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift, both struggled commercially in comparison to the movie and previous music that inspired both projects. During the first week of release Bey’s album debuted at Number Three on The Rolling Stone Top 200 Albums Chart, while the Lion King album lodged at 19. By the next week, The Gift fell to 21, while the soundtrack decreased to 42.
“The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box-office success,” Elton continued. “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. That makes me extremely sad. I’m so happy that the right spirit for the music lives on with the Lion King stage musical.”
In an August interview with Rolling Stone, Edie Lehmann Boddicker, a studio singer from the 1994 Lion King and a close collaborator with Hans Zimmer, described what inspired the composer to embark on the challenge of redoing the original. “I think Coachella is what prompted Hans to go ‘I really need to do the remake of The Lion King with Jon Favreau,'” Edie said. “Because at Coachella, the Millenials were openly weeping when he started The Lion King… I don’t think they realized how iconic, how much a part of our culture that song and that movie has become.”
As of press time, it was not entirely clear how much of the Beyhive’s wrath John will face. Rolling Stone will update this article when a decision is made by the Hive.