When Jon Favreau’s remake of the Disney classic The Lion King was released earlier this year, audiences everywhere gave it mixed reviews. Some loved getting to see their favorite childhood cartoon brought to almost-real-life on the big screen; others thought the film was just a simple retreading of old material. As it turns out, Sir Elton John, the original film’s composer, falls into the latter camp.
In a new cover story for British GQ, John said that he saw the new version of the beloved film, and didn’t feel it lived up to its source material. “The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me,” he said. The star specifically cited the film’s soundtrack as the main issue, saying, “I believe they messed the music up. 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 singer, who is currently promoting his new memoir Me, got more specific, explaining that he felt the music didn’t have the same success as the original, making it’s “impact” much less significant. “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,” he said. “The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box-office success.”
John even went on to say that he wanted to be more involved in the making of the music. “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,” he said, adding that he was at least glad that the “right spirit” of the original music is still present in the stage musical.
In the wide-ranging interview, John spoke at length about going through rehab, writing his book, Russian censorship and much more. In one particularly interesting moment came when the star was asked about whether or not there are even “stars” anymore. “You can’t be a star just by making records. That’s not going to happen. To be a star, you have to last for 50 years,” he said, name-dropping Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac and a few others as examples, while hailing Lady Gaga as “the only real star at the moment.” He said that rising indie-pop singer Christine and the Queens is a star in the making, though “she hasn’t cracked it yet commercially.”
Check out Elton John’s full cover story here.