On Tuesday, Beyoncé pulled a classic Beyoncé move by dropping a surprise song, titled “Spirit.” Its the first release from her upcoming album, The Lion King: The Gift, a curated collection that goes hand in hand with the upcoming Disney remake. In the film, which made its regal world premiere on Tuesday night, Beyoncé voices the role of Nala opposite Donald Glover, who voices Simba.
“Spirit,” which opens with a Swahili chant, is a powerful ballad with a sweeping chorus, backed by a echoing choir. Its unclear as of yet if the song will appear in the film itself, though it wouldnt seem out of place tonally and lyrically. The song was cowritten and composed by Beyoncé, Ilya Salmanzadeh, and Labrinth. If all goes well, we just might see this trio on the awards season trail this season, as Beyoncé vies for some best original song statuettes. Its early days for talk like that, of course, but “Spirit” has the classic trappings of a contender—and thats just the first released track. The Lion King: The Gift will officially be available on July 19.
In a previous statement, Beyoncé waxed poetic about the upcoming Lion King album. “This is sonic cinema,” she said. “This is a new experience of storytelling.”
The album will incorporate several different genres, including R&B, pop, hip-hop, and Afrobeat, and will, in essence, mirror the films narrative. “Each song was written to reflect the films storytelling that gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery, while listening to a new contemporary interpretation,” Beyoncé continued. “It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me.”