Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Sir Elton John brands modern songwriters 'pretty awful'

Music legend Sir Elton John has slammed today's songwriters as "pretty awful" and TV as "arse-paralysingly" boring.

The 63-year-old said he was not a fan of TV talent shows and confirmed that he turned down the opportunity to be a judge on American Idol.

He told the Radio Times that he admired contemporary stars such as Lily Allen, with whom he traded insults at an awards ceremony two years ago, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga.

But he said: "It's important they write their own songs, so they're not at the mercy of anyone. Songwriters today are pretty awful, which is why everything sounds the same. Contemporary pop isn't very inspiring."

The Rocket Man added: "I'm not a fan of talent shows. I probably wouldn't have lasted if I'd gone on one. I was asked to judge American Idol."

Sir Elton, who famously attacked Madonna for lip-synching on stage, said he "couldn't do" American Idol, which featured Simon Cowell as a judge before he quit to launch a US version of the X Factor, "because I won't slag anyone off".

"Also I don't want to be on television", he said. "It's become boring, arse-paralysingly brain crippling. I like Simon Cowell, but what he does is TV entertainment.

"There have been some good acts, but the only way to sustain a career is to pay your dues in small, s**t clubs. I was in a band at 17, became a songwriter with Bernie Taupin and wasn't successful until we'd had six years of hard graft and disappointment, as well as great times."

The singer added: "TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up, which is hard. (X Factor winners) Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke are at the mercy of the next song they can get.

"Susan Boyle was an endearing phenomenon, but I fear she might not understand the rigours of showbusiness."

Sir Elton, who is in talks about creating a musical version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, also used the interview to vent his anger over the fact Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth has not been awarded a knighthood.

He said: "I grew up with Sunday Night At The London Palladium and it's an outrage that Bruce Forsyth (its former compere) hasn't been knighted.

"I told him that, and wrote a letter to the honours committee. He's part of our lives, like Rolf Harris - a clever, incredibly witty man who always made me feel good."

Sir Elton defended his decision to perform, for a reported million dollars (£629,000), at the wedding of right-wing US media personality Rush Limbaugh, who has been criticised over his views on Aids and homosexuality.

He said: "I was incensed when people said I was throwing away 40 years of credibility for money. No. I don't need it. No-one was more surprised than I when Rush asked. Politically we're opposites. It was an opportunity to break the ice.

"I'm a builder of bridges and knocker-down of walls. I want him on side when I step up to the plate on civil partnerships."

On the subject of gay rights, Sir Elton, who had a civil partnership ceremony with long-term partner David Furnish in 2005 - on the first day of same-sex unions in England and Wales, said: "I'm very proud of what Britain has done for gay rights. In America, unfortunately, there's the 'm' word - some say 'It's marriage or nothing'.

"Well, you're going to have to wait a long time, baby. Let's just get the ball rolling with civil partnerships. You can't go for the jugular straight away. As it happens I don't want to get married."

The star, who gave up drugs and alcohol after battling addictions, said of the current drug scene: "It couldn't be worse than it is now. It's funny - once you give up drugs, as I did, you assume everyone else has, but it's more prevalent now than ever.

"The drugs are particularly dangerous today. A lot of people are on prescription pills, crystal meth and crack cocaine."