Spirit (Beyoncé song)

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Beyoncé - Spirit.png
Single by Beyoncé
from the album The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and The Lion King: The Gift
ReleasedJuly 10, 2019 (2019-07-10)
LabelWalt Disney
Beyoncé singles chronology
"Brown Skin Girl"
Music video
"Spirit" on YouTube

"Spirit" is a song recorded by American singer Beyoncé for the soundtrack of the photorealistic remake of The Lion King and the companion album The Lion King: The Gift. Released on July 10, 2019,[1] it was written and produced by Ilya Salmanzadeh, Labrinth and Beyoncé.[2] Lyrically, the song discusses Simba's, the movie's main protagonist's return home and is played during that particular scene in the movie. "Spirit" is a ballad that opens with lyrics chanted in Swahili by male choristers and contains gospel undertones. Upon its release, the song received positive reviews from music critics, most of whom praised the singer's full vocal range display and the African musical undertones.

"Spirit" charted at number 98 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 6 on the US Hot R&B Songs chart, while also entering the charts in numerous European countries. A music video directed by Jake Nava was filmed at Havasu Falls in Arizona and Apple Valley, California and premiered on July 16, 2019. It shows the singer performing a dancing choreography surrounded by African dancers and choristers in a desert-like environment and features a cameo appearance by her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Upon its release, the video was positively received by most critics who praised the scenery of the location and the singer's fashion style.


In a Huffpost interview with Hans Zimmer, he explained that "Spirit" was the final addition to the soundtrack and was initially slotted in for the end credits.

"At the last moment, she comes to the room and basically shows us a diamond and goes, ‘If you want it, you can have it." "Every musician has a habit of when they come into the room to play you something for the first time ... We’re all just a tiny little bit nervous how it lands,” he said. “Of course, everybody’s reaction — we absolutely adored it. It was absolutely perfect for the film.” I suddenly thought, ‘No, no, no. This song is a gift. This song does a great bit of storytelling.’ ... I just thought, ‘Hang on. We should try this at this different spot as opposed to the end title.’ I think it will be, if it’s in the body of the movie and it’s over a crucial scene, I think it will have much more resonance and weight." [3]

The cover art for the single features a shot of Beyoncé's face next to the CGI face of Nala, the character she portrays in the movie.[4]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

The song opens with two male backing vocals singing the lines "Uishi kwa muda mrefu mfalme" in Swahili which translate to "Long live the king" in English.[5] These vocals are also featured later throughout the song preserving the song's traditional African choral sound. According to Pitchfork's Michelle Kim, sonically, the song is an amalgam of African music with American South music.[6]

In the movie, "Spirit" can be heard during the scene in which Simba goes back home with Nala in the Pride Lands. He has grown up and established friendly relationships with Timon and Pumbaa. Nala, however, convinces him to return home in order to reclaim the throne that rightfully belongs to him and has been taken by Scar who has allowed the hyenas to overrule the kingdom. The song's lyrics are straightforward and in accordance with the scene as they portray the main protagonist's return home in an attempt to rectify the situation.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Winston Cook-Wilson for Spin wrote "The sweeping, anthemic song is a blend of styles that keeps in line both with the spirit of the original animated film’s soundtrack songs and Beyonce’s characterization of the Gift album."[8] Sandra Gonzalez for CNN described how "in "Spirit," Beyoncé masterfully showcases her power and vocal acrobatic skills."[9] Raisa Bruner of Time agrees, calling the song "a soaring, gospel-inspired track that shows off Queen Bey‘s full range".[10] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian opined that the song, which he described as "equal parts show-tune and Donna Summer's 'State of Independence' [1982]", was similar to some of the singer's earlier material.[11] Carl Wilson of Slate Magazine described the song as "award-baiting piece of Hollywood-goes-gospel".[12] Michelle Kim writing for Pitchfork was particularly critical of the song's lyrics, noting that they "err on the side of meaningless" in comparison to the singer's previous pop projects. Nevertheless, she complimented her vocals as "weighty" and "soulful".[6]


Year Award Category Result Ref
2019 BreakTudo Awards Best Soundtrack Music Pending [13]

Chart performance[edit]

The single charted at number 98 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and it peaked at number 6 on the US Hot R&B Songs chart. It fared better in Europe, where it entered the top 50 in the Netherlands and Scotland.

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was filmed at Havasu Falls, a waterfall in Havasu Creek, located in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States. Notably, Beyoncé received special permission from the Havasupai tribe to close off the waterfall from the public to allow filming of the music video on July 10. Shooting lasted around five hours, with Knowles arriving and departing from the location via helicopter.[14] The music video premiered during Can You Feel the Love Tonight, an hour-long special hosted by Robin Roberts that aired on ABC Network on July 16, 2019. A second extended cut video was also released on the singer's YouTube channel in which the original music video for "Spirit" was merged with that for another song from the album, "Bigger".[15] According to the singer, the clip was intended to "show how God is the art director".[16].

The clip consists of excerpts from the movie intermingled with scenes of Beyoncé singing the song and dancing in the desert accompanied by male and female dancers and choristers dressed in matching outfits.[17][18] Blue Ivy Carter, the singer's daughter with rapper Jay-Z makes several cameo appearances throughout the video accompanied by her mother. For one of the looks of the video, the singer dons a dress from Senegal custom-made for her.[19]

Tosten Burks of Spin magazine found the scenes of the singer dancing in the desert reminiscent of Solange Knowles's short film When I Get Home (2019).[17] A CNN writer praised the aesthetics of the visuals, the inclusion of the singer's daughter and the numerous Easter eggs referencing Africa.[19] In a similar vein, Claire Shaffer writing for the Rolling Stones praised the landscapes surrounding the filming locations.[16] A writer for Variety complimented the "spectacular, revealing gowns" the singer is dressed in.[14] Likewise, writers for Billboard praised the singer's outfits worn in the videos, noting how they blend in with the surrounding scenery.[20] Several days following the release of the music video for "Spirit", allegations on social media accounts accusing the singer of plagiarism surfaced online. The clip was said to contain similar shots and ideas with La Maison Noir: The Gift and the Curse (2018), a 17-minute film by Rharha Nembhard directed for South African musician Petite Noir. Some of the elements compared in both videos include the singer's clothing, poses and looks. Management teams of both representatives however made no comments on the matter.[21][22]


Chart (2019) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[23] 99
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[24] 1
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[25] 14
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[26] 92
Ireland (IRMA)[27] 65
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[28] 27
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[29] 67
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[30] 12
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[31] 36
Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)[32] 11
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[33] 59
US Billboard Hot 100[34] 98
US Hot R&B Songs (Billboard)[35] 6


  1. ^ Strauss, Matthew; Minsker, Evan (July 10, 2019). "Listen to Beyoncé's Song 'Spirit' From New Lion King Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  2. ^ Tingley, Anna (July 9, 2019). "Beyonce to Release New Single 'Spirit' for 'Lion King'-Inspired Album". Variety. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "Here's How Beyoncé's New Song 'Spirit' Wound Up In 'The Lion King'". HuffPost Canada=. July 11, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
  4. ^ Frank, Allegra (July 10, 2019). "Of course Beyoncé's new song for The Lion King is perfect". Vox. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Fernandez, Celia (July 16, 2019). "The Lyrics to Beyoncé's "Spirit" Perfectly Match The Lion King's Theme". Oprah Magazine. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Kim, Michelle (July 10, 2019). ""Spirit" by Beyoncé Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  7. ^ Becl, Lia (July 2019). "Beyonce's "Spirit" Plays In 'The Lion King' Over A Big, Triumphant Moment". Bustle. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  8. ^ "Beyoncé Releases New Song "Spirit" from Upcoming Lion King Album". Spin. 2019-07-10. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  9. ^ CNN, Sandra Gonzalez. "Beyoncé will lift your spirit with new song from 'The Lion King' soundtrack". CNN. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  10. ^ "Just Try to Sing Along to Beyoncé's New 'Lion King' Song". Time. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  11. ^ Petridis, Alexis (July 19, 2019). "Beyoncé: The Lion King: The Gift review – superstar shows impeccable taste". The Guardian. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  12. ^ Wilson, Carl (July 17, 2019). "Beyonce's The Lion King: The Gift review: New album is way better than the new movie". Slate Magazine. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  13. ^ "Nominees announced for BreakTudo Awards 2018". CelebMix. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  14. ^ a b "Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution". Variety. July 16, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  15. ^ "Beyoncé Releases 'Spirit' and 'Bigger' Extended Music Video". Vulture. July 19, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Shaffer, Claire (July 19, 2019). "Beyonce Releases Double Music Video for 'Lion King' Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Burks, Tosten (July 16, 2019). "Watch the Video for Beyoncé's New Lion King Song "Spirit"". Spin. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Herrison, Ellie (July 17, 2019). "Beyoncé stars in epic 'Spirit' video from Lion King soundtrack". The Independent. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Asmelash, Leah; Ries, Brian (July 17, 2019). "Beyoncé drops her music video for 'Spirit' (featuring Blue Ivy!!!!), and it's perfect". CNN. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  20. ^ "All of Beyonce's Fashions in the 'Spirit' & 'Bigger' Video From 'Lion King: The Gift' Album". Billboard. July 19, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  21. ^ Aveola, Novieku-Babatunde (July 24, 2019). "Beyonce 'copies' 2018 South African video concept for her new 'Spirit' music video". Face2Face Africa. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  22. ^ "Beyonce accused of stealing ideas for 'Spirit' video". Canoe. July 22, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  23. ^ "ARIA Chart Watch #535". auspOp. July 27, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  24. ^ "Ultratop.be – Beyoncé – Spirit" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  25. ^ "Ultratop.be – Beyoncé – Spirit" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  26. ^ "Beyonce Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  27. ^ "IRMA – Irish Charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  28. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 31, 2019" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  29. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Beyoncé – Spirit" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  30. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. July 22, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  31. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  32. ^ "Veckolista Heatseeker, vecka 30". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  33. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  34. ^ "Beyonce Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  35. ^ "Hot R&B Songs - July 27, 2019". Billboard. Retrieved July 23, 2019.