Nov 05 2013

The lion sleeps tonight

This version by the popular duo Hippo and Dog never fails to make me smile.

Hippo Sings & Dog Dances to The Lion Sleeps Tonight from Cris Popenoe on Vimeo.

For some reason, I had always thought that this song was performed by a group of black singers from Africa or the Caribbean. Just shows that one should never jump to conclusions. The version we are most familiar with is the 1961 version by The Tokens.

But it turns out that I was not far off. The song was originally written and sung by South African Solomon Linda way back in 1939, but was later covered by many other singers, with The Tokens’ version gaining the most popularity in the west, especially after that version was used in the Disney animated film The Lion King.

Here are The Tokens performing it.


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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    I’m impressed that he can sing that whole song in falsetto.

  2. 2
    M can help you with that.

    The version by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds is worth bringing up for comparison. The melody of the English-language song shows up as a short (improvised?) phrase right at the end.

  3. 3
    Mano Singham

    Thanks so much for finding that. It was great. But I thought that I could detect the melody and the background chant throughout the song, except at a slower tempo and with no words.

  4. 4


    Yes, the lead singer has an amazing vocal range, doesn’t he.

  5. 5

    Good morning Mano,

    I’m partial to the Tracey Ullman, City of Strangers version.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,


  6. 6
    Mano Singham


    That was great! Thanks for the link.

  7. 7
    Mary Jo

    Amazing, it seems that YouTube version was done in 2006 and The Tokens are still touring. http://jaysiegelandthetokens.com/tour-dates/
    I am so awed that he sounds as good as he did in 1961. I loved the song before Disney used it so in my mind it is not about the Lion King.

  8. 8
    Mano Singham

    Sadly, Hank Medress the lead singer of The Tokens, died in 2007 at the age of 68.

  9. 9
    Mary Jo

    Oh, that is such a shame, what a beautiful voice.

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