Tim Rice, a lyricist, was working with composer Alan Menken on songs for Aladdin, was invited to write the songs, and accepted on the condition of finding a composing partner. Menken wasn’t available, so the producers accepted Rice's suggestion of Elton John, after Rice's invitation to ABBA fell through. ABBA was unable to accept, because Benny Andersson was busy with the musical Kristina från Duvemåla. John expressed an interest of writing "ultra-pop songs that kids would like; then adults can go and see those movies and get just as much pleasure out of them", mentioning a possible influence of The Jungle Book, where he felt the "music was so funny and appealed to kids and adults".
John and Rice wrote five original songs for this film: "Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", "Be Prepared", "Hakuna Matata" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" with the singer's performance of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" over the end credits.The IMAX and DVD releases added another song, "The Morning Report", which was based on a song discarded during development that eventually got featured in the live musical version of The Lion King.
The film's score was composed by Hans Zimmer, who was hired based on his work in two films in African settings, The Power of One and A World Apart,and supplemented the score with traditional African music and choir elements arranged by Lebo M.