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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Elton John knows the secret of publicity

There's an interview with Elton John in the new issue of The Word. It's largely about his life-long obsession with records. (Elton belongs, like I do, to that generation of people who grew up wanting nothing more than records and he's always interesting on the subject.) Near the end of a long interview with Rob Fitzpatrick Elton threw in a few unsolicited comments about Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell and the fakery involved in a lot of modern pop. We punted some of the more quotable jibes at the Daily Mirror, who went quite big on them. Then the Mail picked them up and the next thing we know and the internet being what it is those jibes are everywhere from Los Angeles to Mumbai. Elton's PR doesn't mind at all.

The interesting thing is how often Elton looses off a few rounds in the direction of a newsworthy name. It's often interpreted as him just being unable to entertain a bitchy thought that he doesn't speak. I wonder if it's actually an old stager knowing that the best way to increase his public profile exponentially is to be prepared to have a pop at someone else who's famous. In the same week he's given an interview to Rolling Stone in which he lays into Billy Joel about his drinking. Not long ago it was George Michael's fondness for weed. I can remember times when it was Michael Jackson's addictions, Madonna's miming or Eminem's problem with homosexuals. In the dim and distant past he used to take aim at Steve Harley or Alvin Stardust.

There will be an exchange of fire, a period of truce and then, in all probability, a high-profile rapprochement, probably in the form of a duet. (He's probably already sent a million pounds of flowers to Cheryl Cole with a "they twisted my words" note.) I have no problem with it. The world of entertainment would be a marginally duller place without Elton. But here's the thing. He's a lot more shrewd than we give him credit for.