The Lion King Soundtrack and The Gift - Everything You Need to Know

Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston for Disney Studios

Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston for Disney Studios

The latest Hollywood trend is revamping all of our childhood favorites, whether that’s 80s-themed TV shows. Disney is cashing in on our nostalgia and quarter or mid life crises, and we’re not that mad about it.

The Lion King remake features a star studded cast, and a soundtrack that is just as impressive. The original film featured tracks by the likes of Elton John, with the original composer Hans Zimmer at the helm again.

A lot of critics are hailing Beyoncé as the crowning achievement of this remake, due to her accompanying album, and while she does make for a foreboding presence, the other contributions to the album are anything but meek.

Classic tracks were reimagined by today’s talents, with artists beyond Beyonce including Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and Billy Eichner performing tracks such as “Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life.”

Original tracks include “Spirit,” which was written by Bey herself, Labrinth, and Ilya Salmanzadeh. Originally intended to play during the credits, the track was strong enough to garner itself a feature in the actual track.

Beyonce has now released “The Gift”, an accompanying soundtrack set to serve as a companion to the Disney movie. She features eclectic genres like Afrobeat, RnB, hip hop, and the South African house music genre known as Gqom.

While the past Lion King was all-out feel-good whimsy, the reinterpretation takes on a more somber and powerful tone - the soundtrack navigates and reflects that with ease.

“Brown Skin Girl” is the catchiest and most memorable song of the album, confronting colorism and all the stigmas that go with it. Featuring Nigerian artist Wizkid and Guyanese-American vocalist SAINt JHN, the track is breezy but its socially opinionated content is anything but.

The album is inspirational and most in second person, with Beyonce explaining in an interview that the soundtrack was her “love letter to Africa.” Some listeners felt concerned that East African voices were left out, despite the Lion King’s most famous song “Hakuna Matata”, which is spoken in Swahili, the mother language of east Africa.

While some of the tracks accomplish political statements, it seems to still remain mild and general enough to satisfy the masses. It would be nice if instead of this romantic, pan-African representation, mainstream artists like Beyonce can one day shed visibility to the many complex nuances of the vast continent, which so many ignorantly perceive as a singular thing.