Elton John isn't impressed with modern pop songs: "they’re not real..."

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/28/elton-john-isnt-impressed-wi.html


Well he’s not wrong, is he?


I love Elton John, and even some of his music, but this smacks of a “kids today” argument.

It seems to me the radio has always played music manufactured and targeted at a less “sophisticated” audience than music you can find elsewhere. And that’s OK! Sometimes even “sophisticates” can need to just have fun.


The lack of actual meritocracy is hurting pop really bad these days. The labels are having a rough time searching for talent. Lil Nas X, Halsey, Billie Ellish and Finneas O’Connell were ignored at some point until they kinda blew up out of nowhere. The labels are in desperate need for talented producers. Right now off the top of my head, I can name 4 to 5 talented western vocaloid producers who could easily dominate the top 40 if they worked with popular or even semi-popular singers.

And Elton isn’t completely negative about all recent artists these days. He has fanboyed hard about Hayley Williams the past few years.


If you feel that it’s real I’m on trial
And I’m here in your prison
Like a coin in your mint
I am dented and I’m spent with high treason

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As opposed to, say, 200 years ago, when pop music was specifically created for the discerning listener. That continued until Elton John’s most successful years, and went downhill from there ?

I remember people saying that exact same crap in the early eighties about anything that has an obious synth, drumcomputer or sequencer in it. They probably said that in the 70es too, but I was too young to be included in these conversations at the time. Man, must it suck to get old and feel irrelevant. It’s a choice though, not an inevitability.

Was there ever a meritocracy in pop (or anywhere, for that matter?). And the labels always claimed talent was hard to get by, which was never true. It’s hard to find talent that actually wants to be in that mostly fucked up business, with the advent of streaming even more so.

And yet there is shittons of great new music out there, I’d argue more than ever before, because it is now easy and cheap to record and play music. People just don’t take the time finding it.

Mainstream pop music was mostly crap (and that specifically includes Elton John) for als long as I can remember, so nothing new here.


Don’t most of his songs have Bernie Taupin as a co-writer? It’s kind of weird that he would fixate on multiple writers.


Perfect time for this classic.


This is something that old people say. I may think it also, but I try not to say it so people still think I’m hip.


I listened to a random selection of my Dad’s music from the 50’s and 60’s and most of it was kind of dumb teenage stuff. That’s OK. But it’s not high art. Some of the music was written by the artists, but even then bands had producers and dedicated song writers.

Making music is hard. I won’t criticize anyone that does it with a team of people. Not all of us are as talented as Elton John.


Related: if you haven’t become familiar with Ezra Furman yet, I highly recommend one of the great songwriters of our time. That Ezra isn’t the biggest thing in music right now is kinda criminal.


Well, we are still living under capitalism, and there’s definitely a market for club music that doesn’t have anything to do with “songwriting”. If it’s got a beat and you can dance to it (and maybe throw some generic auto-tuned vocals on top) you too can break into the Top 40 for a week.

But I suspect Sir Elton also probably hates some current stuff that’s actually pretty innovative and interesting. Not everyone is ready to updates their tastes on a regular basis.

That’s okay, though. Music is personal. You use it as you need it.


Well his latest single is titled “Get Off of my Lawn Tiny Dancer”. :slight_smile:


Just as I’d long suspected. It’s nice to hear it confirmed by a talented artist who knows about the industry. IIRC, Billy Joel made comments years ago about studio bands and how he noticed fewer musicians among the top-selling groups/artists.


Elton, like he wouldn’t do a 6ix9ine duet or some shit for six figures like clockwork.


He’s welcome to write some new music instead of playing the same songs for three decades.


That’s crazy talk. If there’s one thing that Elton John cares about, it’s artistic integrity.

For you to suggest he’s more interested in money than the meaning behind the art is really beyond the pale.


As much as that always amuses me, there’s so many factors to the multiple songwriter thing. First is that sampling is super- common these days. and so sampling two songs can mean 6 or 7 songwriters right away. Second, of course is actually crediting the people who created is properly. “Funky Drummer” recorded today might actually credit Clyde Stubblefield and whoever else contributed to that track.

I think it was a Black Eyed Peas song that get ragged on for having like 12 songwriters… when it’s the four vocalists wrote their own lyrics, the two producers wrote their own parts, and it sampled two songs which each had 3 songwriters. Everyone who contributed got their due.


I agree, but that’s because I’m an old guy and this is an inevitable get-off-my-lawn moment. But if you read David Byrne’s wonderful book How Music Works, you’ll see that he says flesh-and-blood musicians always play a little ahead and a little behind the beat, and that the beat itself is always less-than-metronomically perfect. To me that makes most machine-driven pop music hard to enjoy.

Byrne of course does exclusively computer-based music nowadays, so whaddya gonna do?


Guy with “Sir” in front of his name gravitates toward great man theory of history; motives definitely inscrutable…

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