As mentioned previously, Minkoff and Allers hired Zimmer specifically because of his work on The Power of One. If you listen to that score, you’ll hear the seeds of many musical ideas and flavors that lace The Lion King. Just listen to the panpipe and wordless choir from this melancholy cue from the 1992 drama:
Songs were among the very first elements needed to make The Lion King, since they were performed by members of the voice cast and animated in sync. Rice was the conduit between the directors and the elusive Elton John, who would submit demos of just his voice and piano.
“‘Circle of Life’ he wrote two versions of,” said Minkoff. “The first version is not the one you know. It was just…very different. We were sort of stuck on the approach, because nobody but Tim was in touch with Elton. We barely saw him during the making of the movie. He was…wherever he was, because you never knew. Tim would write a lyric, give it to Elton, Elton would write a song and send a demo. And we’d get a cassette tape. The demos were quite different from what we ended up with in the movie.”