The soundtrack for Disney's upcoming The Lion King remake has been revealed, and it appears to be hiding a secret song by Beyoncé. The Lion King soundtrack listing includes 19 tracks in total, made up of a mix of Hans Zimmer's new score and the songs being performed by the film's principal cast members, with one big exception.
As first noted by Cinema Blend, song 14 on the tracklisting is simply "TBA". meaning that Disney is likely trying to hide something of a surprise. There are a few possibilities for what it could be, but the most enticing idea is that it's a new original song designed to be a solo for Beyoncé's Nala. As it stands, that's something The Lion King is lacking, which seems like a missed opportunity given her incredible talent and popularity. Luckily, it does seem to be the case.
The song comes after "Reflections of Mufasa" and before "The Battle for Pride Rock", which in narrative terms places it around the time of Simba's decision to return back home. In the original version, Simba sees Mufasa in the clouds, makes the decision to go back, and not much else happens prior to confronting Scar. The Lion King remake so far looks like it's staying very true to the animated classic, but it could be fleshing this journey out further.
With Simba preparing to head into battle, it would make sense for Nala to have a song here. There's an opportunity to further explore and develop their relationship, alongside his decision to return home, that would be worth seeing from her point-of-view. It gives the sequence of events a little more breathing room too, which is important for a live-action film, rather than going from Mufasa in the clouds to the Battle for Pride Rock.
Speaking with Fandango, The Lion King director, Jon Favreau, discussed expanding Nala's role in the film, saying: "In the original film, her role is not as large as in the stage production, and we definitely drew inspiration, and that was one of the areas where we were going to expand this." When then asked if Beyoncé's new song is the only new one in the film, Favreau responded:
"Yeah, it doesn't replace anything. We have all the original songs, but there's a song that she performed and wrote in the spirit of the production along with working with Lebo M., who's part of it with Hans Zimmer. They were all collaborating with her and helping to bring this new piece of music into a film where there's already a very established musical personality to the piece. So it was nice of them to have them working with her to allow the new song to feel organically a part of the new production."
What's more, though, is that it gives Beyoncé extra to do in The Lion King. As it stands, she'll only be singing on "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?", alongside Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and Billy Eichner. For Beyoncé to take on the role, you'd imagine there'd have to be a desire for her to get a solo - and, as an original song, one that could well end up being positioned for an Oscar too. The Lion King already has one potential contender in Elton John's "Never Too Late", which will play over the end-credits with accompaniment from an African choir. Still, it'd make sense for Disney to give themselves as many chances as possible. If Beyoncé song is indeed placed where it seems, then it's likely to be emotionally and thematically resonant as the film approaches its denouement, and would certainly stand a strong chance of at least garnering a nomination, if not a win at next year's Academy Awards.
From Favreau's comments, it sounds like Beyoncé's song, which is almost certainly Song 14 (although it's still officially TBA) will allow Queen B to mesh her own style with that of The Lion King, which is definitely a good thing.