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  • Writer's pictureEllis & Gareth

Scene Standoff: Lion King vs Grease

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

The opening 'Circle of Life' from 'Lion King' vs. 'You're the one that I want', the finale number in Grease.

Let us first explain the premise. The idea is to find the most iconic movie scenes of all time; scenes that we believe almost everybody has seen, even if they haven't seen the film they appeared in. This stemmed from Ellis watching Titanic, realising how much of it he'd seen despite never actually watching the whole movie from start to finish. The first round of battles will consist of five categories:

Performance - How well was the scene performed and how iconic is the performance?

Necessity - How does it fit into the rest of the film? Would the film be as good without the chosen scene?

Referencability - Now yes, we realise this isn't technically a word but we're basically saying how much is it referenced? Taking into consideration quotes, movements, dances and so on.

Popularity - Using we document the average rating of the film. We feel the popularity of the whole film is important in reference to the scene taken from it.

Iconic Rating - we come up with a weird and wonderful scale, and pinpoint how iconic the scene is in reference to the scale.

We began by picking five scenes each, and pitting them against each other in a head-to-head format. Gareth thought of a novel idea to decide who plays the first scene: who watched Titanic most recently? Well that was Ellis so he picked the finale of the 1978 film Grease. Gareth in turn had to pick something that he thought could beat that giant musical number, so he went with the opening musical number in the 1994 film Lion King. Here's who won the standoff...


Ellis - italics

Gareth - bold


As a musical number yours (You're the one I want) is iconic. Men, women and children across the land are always singing it. At high schools and discos, you hear it. You don't get that obviously with Circle of Life; I don't imagine anyone sings that at a disco.

Well you'd be surprised.

I don't know what discos you're going to! But Circle of Life is epic isn't it?

It is and it blows you away. The actual performance of the vocals as's brilliant.

It's the fact that it goes twice and it blows you away both times.

And you still get goosebumps every time you watch it when that sun rises.

It's just missing David Attenborough really.

It is: "Here we can see Simba on the pride lands."

Yeah he just pops up in the corner. I think Grease should win on performance.

But the overdubbing isn't great.

Hey this is your film remember!

I know, I know I've gone against my film on the first battle. I'm just saying the performance just isn't quite a 10/10 for that reason.

Lion King - 7/10 Grease - 9/10


Lion King, it sets the whole bloody thing up...

And the film echoes the song, it really is the circle of life. It's a 10/10 surely.

Look I hear what you're saying...but with Grease it's the climax of the whole film. The whole thing's been leading to Sandy and Danny singing together. And for some reason a car flies at the end which ruins the film so we won't talk about that.

I've just thought, if you took Circle of Life out then the rest of the film would still work.

If you took You're the One that I want out of Grease it would feel pretty inconclusive.

You could still have the holding up of Simba though right?

Is that not part of the iconic scene?

Yeah you're right. I'd maybe go 9/10 then.

Without that song would Lion King be as good?


I think that plays into necessity.

But without You're the One that I want you wouldn't have a mega mix.

This is true!

Lion King - 10/10 Grease - 8/10


I mean, "tell me about it stud" how quote-worthy is Lion King in retrospect to Grease?

Well unless you're going (Gareth sings the start of the Circle of Life) that is pretty reference-worthy.

But no-one actually knows what they're saying.

But then as referencing goes, if you've got a cat, then you've tried that scene.

I'm now picturing you with your cat on pride rock.

You could do it with your cat.

I could, but she would genuinely kill me.

So is it only reference-worthy if you've got a cat?

Maybe. And also is it misquoted because people sing the Elton John single version instead of the film version?


Whereas everyone knows the words to Grease right?

I would say Grease wins this one.

Lion King - 6/10 Grease - 8/10

POPULARITY (using Letterboxd for reference)

So this is obviously talking about the film as a whole as appose to just the scene.

But I think that needs to be a factor.

Yeah I think it's important.

So Lion King. You rated it 4.5 and I rated it a 5.

I don't know why I've not rated it a 5.

Well the average rating on Letterboxd is 4.2/5

The average rating for Grease is 3.4

So there's a big win for Lion King.

I'd agree with those ratings and so would you by the looks of it as you gave it a 3.5 so .1 off the average.

Lion King - 4.2 Grease - 3.4


On a scale of animals you see at a zoo, how iconic are these scenes? So the lowest would be a dog, because you don't see a dog at the zoo; whilst the highest would be a monkey. If you go to the zoo and there's not a monkey then you're going home disappointed.

I would say Circle of Life is almost as iconic as they come. I'd say an Orang-Utan; my favourite of the apes.

Wow! Using the same scale for Grease, I'd say we're maybe at a nice bear. You get them at some zoos but not everywhere.

So we think Circle of Life is more iconic than You're the One that I want then?

And Orang-Utans are more iconic at a zoo than a bear.

Lion King - orang-utan Grease - bear



Lion King 3-2 Grease

So Circle of Life, the opening from Lion King gets the win and makes it through to the next round. It is an absolutely stunning song and everything that accompanies it on screen is equally mesmerising.

The film itself is full of iconic moments. (SPOILER ALERT) The death of Mufasa, Hakuna Matata and Simba talking to his father through images shown in the clouds. It's a truly iconic film and there's good reason for it regularly being named the greatest animated movie of all time.

Will we see it battle another animated great in a future round, only time will tell. For now though the Circle Of Life is safe and the finale in Grease leaves the Scene Standoff.

Current Standings

Gareth - 1 Ellis - 0

Lion King is available now on Disney+

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