"Circle of Life" is a song from Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King. Composed by Elton John, with lyrics by Tim Rice,[2] the song was performed by Carmen Twillie (female vocals) and Lebo M (opening Zulu vocals) as the film's opening song.[3] Elton John sang a pop version of the song with the London Community Gospel Choir, which was included in the film's soundtrack and made into a music video. "Circle of Life" was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song in 1994, along with two other songs from The Lion King: "Hakuna Matata" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight[4][5] which won the award.[4]

The song reached #11 in the UK and #18 in the US, and is featured frequently in attractions based on The Lion King, such as Disney theme parks and parades. Michael Crawford sang it as part of a medley for The Disney Album in 2001.


 [hide*1 Theatrical version

Theatrical versionEdit

[1][2]Rafiki lifts Simba into the air with Mufasa and Sarabi looking on, in the original London version of the Lion Kingmusical.===Act I===

In the theatrical adaption, the opening sequence is noticeably different from the opening of the film. For example, the song is sung by the Rafiki character instead of an off-screen narrator.

With the sun rising over the Pride Lands, Rafiki commences the start of the production by beginning the opening chant of the song and summoning the various animals of the surrounding area for baby Simba's presentation. As the first two verses of the musical number end, a representation of Pride Rock appears onstage carrying its two reigning rulers, Queen Sarabi cradling the small puppet representing her newborn cub in her arms. As the choir chants excitedly in the background, Rafiki accompanies them atop Pride Rock to bless the baby prince before raising him high in the air, singing joyfully alongside the chorus as the gathered animals bow before their new prince.

Act IIEdit

At the end of Act II, Simba's friends and family acknowledge him as the rightful king after Simba and the Pridelanders defeated Scar and the hyenas. Rafiki crowns Simba with the mantle of kingship after his victory, and Simba ascends Pride Rock. He gives a mighty roar across the whole kingdom, and the animals come back to the Pridelands to recognize Simba as the rightful king.

The lionesses celebrate the continuing circle of life when they present a newborn cub who is the son of Simba and Nala. The musical ends as Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to all of the animals. A blackout finishes Act II and leads to the curtain call at the end of the second act.

Circle of Stars versionEdit

"Circle of Life"
Single by Disney Channel Circle of Stars
from the album DisneyMania 2
Released October 7, 2003
Format Digital downloadCD single
Recorded 2003
Label Walt Disney
Disney Channel Circle of Stars singles chronology
"Circle of Life"


"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"


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 lineup was significantly different when their next rerecording, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," was released two years later.

The Lion King 1½Edit

In DisneyToon's 2004 direct-to-video film The Lion King 1½Timon and Pumbaa are watching this musical number in a dark theater when Timon suddenly uses a remote control to fast forward to where they appear in the film. Pumbaa argues that the film shouldn't go out of order and attempts to rewind the film back to the beginning. Timon and Pumbaa fight over control of the film, until they agree that the film should tell their side of the story. The rest of the film is occasionally interrupted by Timon and Pumbaa commenting on whatever is happening.

In popular cultureEdit

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 an episode of the 1990s cartoon Animaniacs, in which the theme of "Circle Of Life" was parodied with "Surprises In Life", with vocals by Jim Cummings and Cree Summer as lead singer.

The Tenth Doctor finds himself subconsciously 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 one of Disney's many self references, "The Circle of Life" appeared as a false beginning of the film Chicken Little, when Buck was trying to open the movie.

South Park did a parody-song called The Circle of Poo that shows the endless circle of food and defecation in the episode A Very Crappy Christmas.

It is currently the main theme song for Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney's Epcot park currently features a cinema-type film called Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable from 1995 with Timon, Pumbaa, and Simbaa discussing environmental topics at the Walt Disney World Resort as well.

At the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, President Barack Obama jokingly claimed he was going to show his long-form birth video, spoofing an earlier controversy about refusing to show his long-form birth certificate to prove he was, in fact, born in the United States. The opening chant was played from the film, and Simba was seen being lifted to the skies. This was used to poke fun at Obama's Kenyan heritage.[citation needed]


Chart (1994-1995) Peak


Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[6] 30
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 5
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[8] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[9] 3
Germany (Media Control Charts)[10] 10
Ireland (IRMA) 9
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[11] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[12] 13
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[13] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[14] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[15] 11
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[16] 2
US BillboardHot 100[17] 18
US Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs)[17] 26
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