I have a newfound love for Elton John. He’s always been one of those artists I’m militantly apathetic towards. I like the melancholy of Rocket Man. I like the wistfulness of Tiny Dancer from Madman Across The Water, and Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters from Honky Château. I like most – if not all – of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, a double record that gets by on its energy as much as its songwriting. But I wouldn’t call myself a big fan.
I’ve written before about how his great 70’s output is overshadowed by his schlocky ‘80s output, and the fact that he’s become bigger than his music. Recently, I’ve started to re-evaluate him, and it’s come from an unlikely source – my five year old.
Olivia has been singing I’m Still Standing, as it features in a prominent scene in Garth Jennings’ animated film, Sing (2016). If you asked me what I considered to be bad Elton, I’d offer this song. To be honest, I’ve probably never considered the song on its own merits; I just have a deep dislike for the music video that always seemed to be consistently on TV when I was growing up.
The French Riviera portrayed in that film has put me off visiting France for life – it’s a camp wonderland where all the hotel bellboys are bare-chested studs, or body-painted extroverts. Elton, in his red suit and pith helmet, tips one of them with glitter – the forgotten French currency between the Franc and the Euro. After a quick costume change where he dons a straw boater, he then moves down to the beach where he takes a little too much satisfaction from pushing over some human dominoes before attempting to click his fingers, something he can’t do due to his piano-playing sausage fingers.
But when you hear your five year old singing the song by herself, it’s as cute as hell. It’s grown on me to such an extent that I regret giving away the studio album, Too Low For Zero, that it’s taken from.
21 At 33 is Elton’s twenty-first release (counting studio records, live albums, compilations, a soundtrack and an EP), and was released when he was thirty-three years old. It’s actually his fourteenth studio record, released in a commercial trough between 1979’s Victim Of Love and 1981’s The Fox. These were fallow years for Elton, eventually making a big comeback in 1983 with, you guessed it, I’m Still Standing.
Hit: Little Jeannie
Hidden Gem: Chasing The Crown