Elton John is a rarity in the upper echelon of elite iconic artists; he proactively seeks out new artists and is a voracious buyer of music. So when he weighs in on contemporary music it comes from a place of genuine insight and passion, and he's made some interesting observations in Music Week.
“It’s so great to see Nova Twins, Wet Leg, Let’s Eat Grandma, The Linda Lindas, Haim and all these girls rocking out and making the best music," Elton told Music Week in an exclusive interview. "Apart from Sam Fender, none of the boys are doing it, the girls are. It’s a breath of fresh air, because it comes from innocence and pure joy and that, for me, is what music is about.”
It's something to be celebrated, and will hopefully inspire more female musicians and breakthroughs. But there's a caveat for the musician, and it's that the charts tell a different story.
“It’s lovely to see Kate Bush at number one, but there’s not many good records in the Top 20," Elton added. "And the albums chart is full of things like me, ABBA and Queen.
"The odd thing comes through, like Sam Fender or Harry Styles, or you get a new artist coming in at number three and then disappearing to 80-something. It’s depressing – there are a lot of good albums that deserve to be in the albums chart, like Juanita Euka, Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen. What I want to know is why aren’t they there? Because of people like me!”
So what's the solution? More high-profile artists championing upcoming and underground musicians and paying it forward like Elton John is certainly helps. As does radio support. But the recent placement in high profile televisions series that has seen Running Up That Hill and Master Of Puppets re-enter and – in the case of Metallica – enter the charts for the first time with older material looks like a major factor now. Reaching millions of ears at once around the world, rather than thousands.
Can the same results be recreated with contemporary music? We'd like to see it.