Elton John’s Top Ten Tunes
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 00:09
When Sir Elton John takes the stage at the Sun Dome on Friday, he will perform some of the most well-known songs of this generation. The Oracle looks at some of the best songs of John’s 50-year career.
1. “The Circle of Life,” 1994
Who could forget this song from the Disney film “The Lion King”? As Mufasa holds Simba high over Pride Rock to show him off to his kingdom, John’s powerful lyrics provide the soundtrack. Much of the film’s success is owed to John’s work on the soundtrack in collaboration with co-lyricist Tim Rice and composer Hans Zimmer. “The Circle of Life” is the kind of song to listen to when feeling nostalgic or when something significant happens in your life.
2. “Candle in the Wind,” 1997
There are two versions of this song. The first was written in 1973 to honor the memory of film star Marilyn Monroe, and it was reprised in 1997 as a tribute to Princess Diana. Surprisingly, the version released in 1997 was not a single — merely a track on John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. But the 1997 version became a No. 1 single within hours of its release, eventually becoming one of the bestselling pop songs of all time.
3. “Daniel,” 1973
“Daniel” is John at his melancholic best. Listen to this song after a fight with a friend or receiving a poor grade on a quiz, and we dare you not to cry. “Daniel,” which was actually written by John’s collaboration partner Bernie Taupin and later shortened by John, went on to win a 1973 Grammy Award nomination for best male pop vocals. “Daniel” was written as a tribute to Vietnam veterans who were returning home after the war. Though the song is serious, John’s superior piano playing and unique vocal quality keep it from being altogether too gloomy to enjoy.
4. “Bennie and the Jets,” 1974
The 1974 hit became John’s second single to hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts, largely because of the song’s unique R&B vibe. “Bennie and the Jets” is about a fictional band and provides social commentary that is still relevant today.
5. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” 1983
This was largely viewed as John’s “comeback” song when it was released in 1983. His career had been on a steady downslide, but after this song few could argue that he’d lost his place as a relevant and influential figure in the world of pop music. This is a great song to listen to when you’re down, but unlike “Daniel,” it’s not a song that allows for weepy self-reflection. Rather, it imparts upon the listener a kind of “chin up” attitude that can be very uplifting. With Stevie Wonder playing the harmonica in the background, its no surprise this song made it to No. 4 on the pop singles chart.
6. “Sacrifice,” 1989
This is a great song when you’re in the middle of working hard for something, such a college degree. It reminds the listener that there is a price to pay to achieve goals. But that’s not actually the message the song was meant to convey when it was written by John and Taupin in 1989. “Sacrifice” reflects the breakup of a marriage that is already doomed and not worth saving, hence the breakup being “no sacrifice at all.” The song is a grand, sweeping ballad that contrasted with the pop music culture of the late 1980s, which might explain why it only made it to No. 18 on the pop charts. The song has experienced resurgence in popularity as of late, with both Sinead O’Connor and Karmina performing covers of this song for their respective albums.
7. “Tiny Dancer,” 1971
Another John/Taupin collaboration, “Tiny Dancer” was introduced to an entirely new generation when it was used in the soundtrack to the 2000 film “Almost Famous.” The song was originally released on John’s 1971 album “Madman Across the Water,” then again as a single in 1972. “Tiny Dancer” was written as a homage to the beautiful women John and Taupin met in California, and anyone who has heard this song knows how its instrumentation and lyrics combine to exemplify the California culture of the ’70s. “Tiny Dancer” became a certified Gold single in May 2005 and earned Platinum status in August 2011.
8. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” 1973
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” demonstrates John’s incredible vocal ability as well as his versatility with songwriting. The song provides a beautiful understanding of the film “The Wizard of Oz” with its sweeping vocals and outstanding choral arrangements.