Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Elton John's best 25 songs and Rocketman review

One thing that's tough to do when you have a full-time job and little kids is go to the movies.

With a week off between my last job and my next job, I was able to not only sneak in a movie yesterday, but also a great 12-mile roundtrip bike ride to and from the movie in Wheaton, Md.

I've always been an Elton John fan, so the new Rocketman seemed like a good way to spend two hours. While I wouldn't consider myself a mega fan (I've never seen him in concert, for instance), I do think he has at least 30 major classic songs, which puts anyone in Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame territory in my book.

Taron Egerton as Elton is a true superstar-making performance. One of the best moments of the movie is when the story of little-boy Reg suddenly blasts onto the screen as grown-up Elton/Taron. It's an electrifying moment when I knew we were in for a good ride. The actor sings all the songs, which he does indistinguishably from the real Elton. It is impossible to take your eyes off Egerton throughout, even through some occasionally bad writing and sometimes-exhausting musical sequences.

The story is mostly well told, with Elton telling the story of his life from a chair in an addicts' anonymous meeting. The awful parents, the child prodigy, the ups and downs with his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, the ups and downs of his romances, and his drug and alcohol extravagances. I would have liked to see a little more of his life with other celebrities and rock stars, but I guess the point is that Elton is pretty introverted for an extrovert.

I also would have liked to learn more about Elton. Some of the facts and chronologies had to unfortunately take a hit for the sake of Hollywood and mass-public whims. What about his British mansion where he's lived since 1975? I guess that mostly came after the bulk of the film's time period, although the movie made it seem as if he was sobered up in the 1980s when he resurfaced for big hits like "I'm Still Standing," when, in fact, he was reportedly a huge cocaine addict throughout the 80s.

The one thing I definitely learned was that he took his stage name "John" from John Lennon. I would have liked to learn more little anecdotes like that. It would have made the film just the little bit more of clever that it needs.

4 out of 5 stars

As a bonus, here are my 25 favorite Elton John songs. Oddly, these are all pretty much classics, but after this list, Elton's quality drops precipitously:

25: Blue Eyes (1982)
24: Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding (1973)
23: Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (1976)
22: Madman Across the Water (1971)
21: Nikita (1985)
20: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (1972)
19: Philadelphia Freedom (1975)
18: I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues (1983)
17: Honky Cat (1972)
16: Border Song (1970)
15: Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting (1973)
14: Tiny Dancer (1971)
13: Bennie and the Jets (1973)
12: Candle in the Wind (1973)
11: Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me (1974)
10: Levon (1971)
09: Don't Go Breaking My Heart w/ Kiki Dee (1976)
08: Someone Saved My Life Tonight (1975)
07: Your Song (1970)
06: Crocodile Rock (1973)
05: Daniel (1973)
04: Little Jeanie (1980) - even with its ridiculous line "I want you to be my acrobat," this is a favorite song from when I was 9 and 10 years old, owner of the 45 still
03: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
02: I'm Still Standing (1983)
01: Rocket Man (1972)