Beyoncé, aka Queen Bey, aka Sasha Fierce, aka Slayoncé, aka Miss-Knowles-It-All, aka Mama Blue, aka Child of Destiny, aka Dumbo (look it up) has time and again surprised her Beyhives with surprise album drops. Set for release on July 19th, The Lion King: The Gift is an album that celebrates the sounds of Africa with international recording artists produced by Queen B. As a double whammy of an announcement, the first single from the album dropped at midnight called “Spirit.”
The soulful track begins with what sounds like a Swahili chant before Beyoncé’s powerful voice graces the track. The soulful tune starts in her lower alto range before the dynamic songstress literally rises into her soprano range on the chorus. The song keeps building from there, becoming a spiritual experience, for lack of a better term. By the end of the song, she is using every note in her arsenal with those signature trills that make Beyoncé’s music so instantly recognizable.
“Spirit” comes from a three person writing team that includes Beyoncé herself, as if she could be any more talented. She doesn’t get enough credit for her songwriting abilities, having co-written some of her biggest hits including “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” “Crazy in Love,” “Halo,” “Run the World (Girls),” and my personal favorite, “Irreplaceable.” One of her collaborators is Ilya Salmanzadeh, who has worked with the likes of Ariana Grande (“Into You”), Ellie Goulding (“Love Me Like You Do”), Taylor Swift (“Bad Blood”). The third songwriter is Timothy Lee McKenzie, better known as Labrinth, is a singer/songwriter who is better known in the UK.
The songwriting team is obviously incredible, having produced some of this decades biggest hits. To compare “Spirit” to any of them would be a fool’s errand and this single barely fits into the pop genre. It truly is more of a spiritual hymn, appearing briefly in the film to underscore the emotions of a scene. While it sounds like it could be an end credit anthem, that’s not how it’s used.
I’m really excited for The Lion King: The Gift and the fact that something like this is coming out feels like a natural fit for this remake of The Lion King. After all, that film inspired Lebo M’s Rhythm of the Pride Lands for which the song “He Lives in You” was written, which inspired both the Broadway production and the direct-to-video sequel, which used that song in place of “Circle of Life.” While “Spirit” is unlikely to spark a similar level of creative output from the synergistic empire that is Disney, it serves the purpose of extending your excitement for the film until it’s July 19th release date, the same day as the album. Fans should also note that the film’s soundtrack comes out digitally this Friday on July 11th. Hakuna Matata!
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.