If you just seen “The Lion King,” you may have recognized two songs not included in the 1994 original animated classic, including one by that film’s songwriter, Elton John.
The first of the two new songs sung during the film is Beyoncé’s “Spirit,” and we’re guessing you recognized her voice. But the song that plays over the film’s end credits is in fact a new track by Sir Elton. The song is called “Never Too Late,” and John teamed up again with lyricist Tim Rice to record the song for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King.”
“Never Too Late” is an upbeat, bouncy song with a Motown, throwback vibe and an accompanying African choir, and it appears both during the film’s end credits and on the official soundtrack for “The Lion King.” The song is also a new one recorded specifically for the remake rather than an unused outtake from 1994’s “The Lion King.”
John and Rice wrote the music and lyrics for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Be Prepared,” “Hakuna Matata,” “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Circle of Life” for the original film, all of which also appear in the new one, with a few updated lyrics and sounds as overseen by Pharrell Williams. And both John and Rice won the Best Original Song Oscar for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
Back in 2018, John teased that his track might ultimately be a team-up with Beyoncé. “And then there will be an end, closing song, and we’ve been speaking to Beyonce’s people, and hopefully Tim and I and her can cook up something,” John told The Sun. “And it will be great to work with her. So we will see.”
As of right now, that dream collaboration doesn’t seem to have panned out, though Beyoncé did put out her own single called “Spirit.” That song plays as Simba (Donald Glover) makes the fateful decision to return home to Pride Rock after her character Nala discovers him in exile, and it too appears on the film’s soundtrack.
In all, “The Lion King” soundtrack features new recordings of all the original songs written by John and Rice, the film’s score by Hans Zimmer, plus African vocal and choir arrangements by Grammy-winning South African producer and composer Lebo M. Lebo M performs the two songs that follow “Never Too Late” in the closing credits, “He Lives In You,” and “Mbube.” Pharrell Williams also produced five of the tracks on the soundtrack.
Interestingly enough, if “Never Too Late” were to be submitted for an Oscar for Best Original Song, John would have to compete not only with Beyoncé, but also himself. John recorded another original song called “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” working with longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin, for the closing credits to his biopic “Rocketman.”
The official soundtrack for “The Lion King” also includes new takes on John and Rice’s songs as recorded by Donald Glover, Beyonce, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen and is available now. Check out “Never Too Late” above.