Results for Elton John

interviews

NPR's Don Gonyea

Don Gonyea

For more than 20 years, NPR National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea has covered presidential campaigns. And in that time Don has had to suffer through horrendous sound tracks used to the introduce the candidates. Don tells Jim and Greg that covering a campaign across the country means you hear the same songs over and over and over. Sometimes you find a new appreciation for the music (Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours") and sometimes it leaves you scratching your head (Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend"?). Don shares his memories of campaign songs and offers a better choice of his own. Photo Credit: © NPR 2004 Photo by Steve Barrett

Go to episode 555
specials

Desert Island Jukebox

All year long, Jim and Greg take turns dropping coins in the Desert Island Jukebox, talking about songs and albums they‘d need with them if stranded on an island. But now, at the year’s end, they're gonna take a break and let some of their favorite past guests do the heavy lifting. Hear what music they can't live without:

  • Lindsey Buckingham: The Beatles, Revolver
  • Trombone Shorty: Louis Armstrong, "On the Sunny Side of the Street"
  • Fred Armisen: Stereolab, "Cybele's Reverie"
  • Trey Parker: Elton John, "Indian Sunset" and Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • Matt Stone: James Brown, "There Was a Time"
  • Peter Hook: Nico, "Chelsea Girl"
  • Kelis: Rhye, "Open"
  • Robert Plant: Low, The Great Destroyer
  • Kerry King of Slayer: Ozzy Ozbourne, Blizzard of Oz
  • Dave Lombardo of Slayer: Amy Winehouse, Back to Black

Plus, check out our 2009 Desert Island Jukebox Special.

Go to episode 474
reviews
Lightning BoltLightning Bolt available on iTunes

Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt

Grunge rock stalwarts Pearl Jam are back with their tenth studio album called Lightning Bolt. It comes 22 years after their landmark debut Ten. Jim and Greg would happily trade Ten for this tenth release. Nonetheless, Greg does find some interesting experimentation in Lightning Bolt, noticeably on songs like "Pendulum" and "Yellow Moon" which show enough growth in the band's sound to earn the record a Burn It. Jim, however, thinks those same tracks are some of the weakest with their misguided allusions to the U2 and Elton John ballads. He prefers the faster pace of songs like "Lightning Bolt," which combined with a few others, might make for a decent EP. Therefore this LP gets a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 412
Unorthodox JukeboxUnorthodox Jukebox available on iTunes

Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox

Two years ago, Bruno Mars won Jim over with his infectious (and ubiquitous) "Lazy Song." Like its author,“The Lazy Song”was youthful and hard to dislike. Plus, who can resist Bruno's backstory? The pop phenom got his start at age four impersonating Elvis in his hometown of Honolulu before founding top-tier production team The Smeezingtons. Having crafted hits for the likes of Cee Lo Green and Travis McCoy, Bruno released a solo debut, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, in 2011. Late last year we got the follow up, Unorthodox Jukebox. Jim and Greg kick off their review by playing "Gorilla". It's“the stupidest song on the album”according to Greg, though there are some other contenders. Bruno's randy lyrics are nothing to write home about, but even on this record's stinkiest tracks, there are redeeming pop touches - a cool chord progression or a spot-on Prince falsetto. Jim agrees. Bruno Mars may be a lightweight, but his re-workings of Elton John, disco, and Sam Cooke are appealing and melodic. This is appropriation, but it's good appropriation. Unorthodox Jukebox gets a double Burn it.

JimGreg
Go to episode 372
50 Words for Snow50 Words for Snow available on iTunes

Kate Bush 50 Words for Snow

The always unique Kate Bush is back with a new album called 50 Words for Snow. Bush has been making music since she was discovered by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour as a teen, and she's always enchanted fans with her gorgeous voice and avant-garde aesthetic. According to Jim and Greg, Bush has done it again on this album, which is admittedly“weird,”but also beautiful, childlike and chilling. Greg doesn't understand the presence of guests Elton John or Stephen Fry, but both he and Jim say Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 313
dijs

Greg

“Where to Now St. Peter?”Elton John

Greg is choosing not to hold Sir Elton's recent bad behavior against him. He wants to think back to a kindler, gentler time when John wasn't just a diva, but also a good songwriter. One example of his prowess is "Where to Now St. Peter?," off of the Tumbleweed Connection album, and Greg adds it to the Desert Island Jukebox this week. He thinks Tumbleweed Connection is Elton John and writing partner Bernie Taupin's strongest beginning-to-end concept album, as opposed to the commonly named Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Greg explains that both men were at the top of their games: Taupin at conjuring up the“Wild West”in his lyrics and John at composing great songs, as opposed to great outfits.

Go to episode 50
lists

Better Campaign Songs

Presidential candidates keep reusing the same generically inspirational anthems (Springsteen, Mellencamp, U2, etc.) on the campaign trail. They rarely seem to pay attention to what the lyrics of the songs are actually about. So Jim and Greg are offering their services as political consultants to help freshen up the campaign rallies. Here are their picks for campaign songs that candidates should use as they run for office:

Go to episode 555

Days of the Week Songs

To Jim and Greg, each day of the week has its own special flavor. Sensitive songwriters pick up on this; it's one of the reasons rock n' roll is rife with Days of the Week songs. This week, Jim and Greg run down their favorites:

  • Joe Jackson, "Sunday Papers"
  • T-Bone Walker, "Stormy Monday (But Tuesday is Just as Bad)"
  • The Rolling Stones, "Ruby Tuesday"
  • Charles Mingus, "Wednesday Nigh Prayer Meeting"
  • Morphine, "Thursday"
  • Cee Lo Green, "Bright Lights Bigger City"
  • Elton John, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
  • Etta James, "A Sunday Kind of Love"
Go to episode 352
news

Music News

There were not one, but two hissy fits thrown by major pop stars this year. The first was by the always incendiary rapper Kanye West. Sound Opinions is a big fan of West, but sometimes he makes it darn hard. At the MTV Europe Music Awards, which will air in the States this weekend, West stormed the stage after losing the award for Best Music Video. He interrupted winners Justice and Simian as they were accepting their award and told viewers that by not winning,“the show loses credibility.”The number of expletives the Chicago native used was less shocking than the fact that he thinks MTV awards have credibility. But, we'll let you be the judge: "Touch the Sky" vs. "We Are Your Friends."

Hissy fit #2 was thrown by Elton John. At a recent concert in New York, the singer/songwriter ranted about his label's lack of interest in promoting his new album, The Captain and the Kid. He demanded to be dropped from Universal Music Group, and told the audience,“I'm 58 and I don't care anymore.”He also dropped the F-bomb 15 times. (Insert "Bitch is Back" joke here). Jim and Greg are rarely ones to defend major labels, but they float the idea that perhaps The Captain and the Kid just wasn't very good.

Go to episode 50

Music News

For the third year in a row the Lollapalooza Music Festival took over Chicago's Grant Park for a weekend. Jim and Greg were both there to report on how the festivities went down, and both critics agree the highlight was, by far, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The punk rocker's high-energy performance toed that line between good fun and danger, something Jim wishes there was more of in rock and roll. Something Jim also wished there was more of at the festival was less of a“shopping mall”environment. He asked Lollapalooza impresario Perry Farrell about the need for such extensive VIP sections and the effect that things like the“radius clause”have on struggling bands and struggling clubs. Greg actually thought the festival was run quite well and treated fans with respect; there was plenty of food, water and bathrooms — something he can‘t say about all other festivals. This critic’s major beef with Lollapalooza is mostly aesthetic. He would like to see fewer stages, fewer filler bands, and more emphasis on thoughtful bookings. We'll just have to wait until Lollapalooza 2008 to see if they take this free advice.

The news takes a slightly darker turn next, with two stories involving Adolf Hitler and Hitler memorabilia. The first concerns the pop purveyor of all things dark: Marilyn Manson. The goth-glam rocker is being sued for $20 million by his former keyboardist, known to fans as Madonna Wayne Gacy. He claims that Manson spent band profits on personal items, including coat hangers used by Adolf Hitler, a handbag owned by Eva Braun, and the full skeleton of a four-year old Chinese girl. Manson says the claims are ridiculous, adding, "I would never spend my money on a Chinese girl skeleton… That would be crossing the line. It's a Chinese boy, for the record.‘’

Another surprising news item: Around 100 records apparently belonging to Adolf Hitler have been discovered in a former Soviet intelligence officer's attic. The collection reveals that while Hitler was publicly heralding“racially pure”German music, his musical taste included some artists forbidden in the Third Reich. Some of the findings were not shocking: Wagner, Beethoven and Anton Bruckner. But, the dictator also appears to have owned works by Jewish and Russian performers like Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninov and Artur Schnabel.

To quote Elton John's own song, "The Bitch is Back." The singer/songwriter has popped up in the news again, this time expressing his beef with…the Internet, of all things. In a piece in British tabloid The Sun, John contends that the web has destroyed music, and explains, "I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span." Sir Elton adds that he's doing his part by shutting out iPods and cellphones, and, we can only guess, communication with the world. Apparently this musician hasn't had the same experience with music on the internet as fellow Brits Lily Allen or Pete Townshend.

Just a week after Jim lauded his new album Cake or Death, psychedelic cowboy Lee Hazlewood died of cancer at the age of 78. The musician is best known for writing and producing hits for others, including "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" for Nancy Sinatra. But, Jim and Greg discuss how he developed a cult following in later years, and became legendary for his innovation and independence. This earned him the adoration of a new generation of rock musicians that includes Nick Cave and Sonic Youth. Jim and Greg pay tribute to Hazlewood by playing his song, "Some Velvet Morning."

Go to episode 89

Music News

Unless you‘ve been hiding in a cave, it’s been impossible to escape "Hello," the new single from British singer Adele. It sold 1.11 million copies in its first week – only Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" has ever sold more in a single week span. Adele is basically a music industry unto herself. In recent years, only Taylor Swift has come close in terms of sales.“Hello,”a 5-minute piano ballad, features production by Greg Kurstin, who has also worked with big names like Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. It remains to be seen if Adele's new album takes her into uncharted territory, or is just a continuation of her previous work.

Tragedy struck a nightclub in Bucharest, Romania on October 30 when the metal band Goodbye to Gravity's stage pyrotechnics started a fire. 32 people died and hundreds were injured. This launched an unprecedented wave of protests against the perceived lax enforcement of laws, culminating in the resignation of Romanian Prime Minster Vincent Porta. This kind of tragedy has happened too frequently, including the deadly 2003 fire at a Great White concert in Rhode Island. Jim is dumbfounded that any band would still use fireworks at an indoor concert.

Go to episode 519

Music News

The Grateful Dead are coming back from…well…the dead. The four surviving original members of the jam band progenitor are reuniting for a series of shows this July at Soldier Field in Chicago. These performances will commemorate their 50th anniversary as a band, as well as the 20th anniversary of leader Jerry Garcia's death. The band claims these will be their final shows together, but Jim and Greg have their doubts.

The buzz is already building for this summer's big music festivals. Major events like Coachella, Bonnarroo, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest are already announcing big name headliners. There seems to be a growing trend of booking veteran performers like Billy Joel and Elton John who could otherwise fill stadium gigs of their own. Greg's early pick is the Governors Ball in New York featuring Björk, while Jim's curiosity is piqued by the avant-garde lineup at Knoxville, Tennessee's Big Ears Festival.

It's one fine day for fans of Mariah Carey. The chart-topping chanteuse will be holding a residency at Caesars Las Vegas beginning in May. She'll perform selections from her many #1 singles to coincide with a new release aptly called #1s. And while it seems like the stuff of sweet, sweet fantasy, Mr. Showmanship himself, Liberace, is also returning to Vegas, despite having died in 1987. Following in the footsteps of Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur, the glittery entertainer will be recreated as a hologram by the company Hologram USA.

liberace

Go to episode 478

Music News

Dance clubs and music venues in Las Vegas have become more popular than ever with one in four casino-goers skipping the poker table for the dance floor. Bigger and brighter laser shows, confetti, and exclusive artist/DJs in residence like Britney Spears, Elton John, Afrojack, and Deadmau5, have helped make Sin City home to 21 of the country's 100 most profitable nightclubs. Slot machines and prime rib better watch their backs.

Another burgeoning musical destination is of all places…your local library. A new content streaming service called Hoopla is being integrated into public library systems across the country in an effort to give patrons more of what they want. The fledgling Hoopla is still a bit weak in the movie department, but it does boast an impressive collection of music albums. All 300,000 of which are available for only the cost of library card. (Which these days, is thankfully, still free.)

Go to episode 411

Music News

After much controversy, Oklahoma has finally declared a new state song: "Do You Realize??" by The Flaming Lips. The native sons have always been proud Sooners, but their politics often go against the state's grain. After the people and the Senate approved this choice, conservatives in the House rejected the song. Despite this, Governor Brad Henry has signed an executive order naming“Do You Realize??”the official state rock song. Sometimes democracy does pay off.

It's easy to assume that rock stars are immune to the current economic crisis, but a recent UK survey shows that artists there have taken some big hits. Elton John's personal wealth fell by more than 25%. So the "Rocket Man" is going to have to get by on merely $256.8 million. Paul McCartney's wealth fell 12% bringing his fortune to only $88 million. And Mick Jagger fared even worse. He took a 16% hit and now only has $278 million to live off of. Jim and Greg hope these musicians know how to make Ramen.

Go to episode 179