Tomorrow, one of the biggest icons of pop music history, Elton John, turns 75 years old. And how is he spending this iconic birthday, you ask? The way he’s spent so many others; entertaining US FANS, on tour.
And for those of us who have watched his career from the beginning – or just studied his catalog from the start, let’s take a quick jaunt down memory lane with Elton’s biggest song from each of the last six decades. And, be prepared for some surprises – there are a few on here you MIGHT not have thought of.
The 1970s – “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee
Elton’s rise to popularity, well-documented in the movie “Rocketman,” shows his early success performing at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. With writing partner Bernie Taupin, Elton’s early hits like “Your Song,” “Bennie And The Jets,” and “Crocodile Rock” established him as a steady chart-topped throughout the 70s. Of all of those songs though, the slightly kitchy, slightly campy “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was his biggest. With fellow Brit Kiki Dee as his duet partner, they seemed perfectly in tune. The song brought on plenty of parodies in later years, and even a remake with RuPaul in the mid-90s. BUT, even in its humor, it has found a home as one of Elton’s BIGGEST hits of his career.
The 1980s – “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That”
While it doesn’t have the melancholy staying power of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” or the inspirational positivity of “I’m Still Standing,” Elton’s biggest hit on the U.S. charts was this upbeat pop song from the 1988 album “Reg Strikes Back.” It hit #2 in the Spring of 1988, and has been noted as one of his best songs about calling it quits in a relationship where someone else was playing around on the side.
The 1990s – “Candle In The Wind” 1997 Version
While the original tribute to Marilyn Monroe was a top 10 in both the ’70s, and the ’80s (with a remastered live version), this re-written version paying tribute to Princess Diana in 1997 wasn’t just Elton’s biggest hit of the 1990s; it was one of THE biggest hit of the 1990s, period. It spent 14 weeks at #1 on the U.S. charts, tying Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” and just behind No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day” as the biggest hit songs of the decade. The only song that has sold more copies: Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” He has not performed it in public ever since the funeral, which makes it truly special to this day.
The 2000s – “Someday Out Of The Blue” from The Road To El Dorado
The 2000 Dreamworks movie “The Road to El Dorado” took advantage of Elton’s hit-making soundtrack power (like he did some years earlier for “The Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” in “The Lion King.”) Although it wasn’t a colossal smash, this song, “Someday Out Of the Blue,” became a top 50 single for Elton in the U.S., after which he took some time off from new material.
The 2010s – “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” with Taron Egerton
Elton went ALMOST the entire decade of the 2010s without a hit single on the charts until the release of “Rocketman” in 2019. The movie, starring Taron Egerton, brought Elton’s music back to the limelight in a positive way, and allowed him to ROAR back with “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” a song of self-confidence and positivity. It was a top 15 adult pop hit in 2019.
The 2020s – “Cold Heart” with Dua Lipa
The pandemic brought about some unexpected things. Perhaps none was more unexpected than Elton’s decision to head into the studio for “The Lockdown Sessions,” a series of duets recorded during the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In August 2021, the first of those was teased and released; a collaboration of Elton and Dua Lipa. Combined with riffs of “Sacrifice,” “Kiss The Bride,” and “Rocket Man,” “Cold Heart” became an INSTANT smash. The song hit the top 10 on the US Hot 100, and #1 on the adult pop chart, officially becoming Elton’s BIGGEST song since the 1997 version of “Candle In the Wind.”
With all these hits, one has to wonder – will we see an Elton John single in the 2030s? (In his 80s?) I wouldn’t bet on it.
But then again, I would never bet AGAINST Elton John.