Elton John may be one of the most silently pervasive artists ever. At award shows, tribute concerts, and even on random albums, including his most recent stint on Fall Out Boy’s currently #1 Save Rock and Roll, the “Candle in the Wind” crooner knows how to steal the spotlight from whichever star is supposed to be at the forefront of a performance. So let’s take a look back at some of the best Elton appearances, whether live or in the recording studio, and see how weird they can get.
“Poker Face/Speechless/Your Song”
In early 2010, the world was still adjusting to the whirlwind of weird that Lady Gaga brought upon us and were relishing in her 2009 EP The Fame Monster. At the 52nd Grammy Awards, Gaga decided to solidify her star quality in her post-VMA performance world by bringing bestie Elton on stage to perform a mash-up of “Speechless” and “Your Song,” after her “Poker Face” intro. Sitting across from each other, the duet makes sense as they both take each other’s songs and passionately dole them out at one another.
“The A Team”
While Ed Sheeran has gained most of his fame from penning tracks and hangin’ with pop’s reigning sweethearts Taylor Swift and One Direction, he has also created a collection of earnest singer-songwriter tunes that have been making fans swoon for some time now. His track “The A Team” proved to be the biggest hit and even gained him a Grammy nom this year. Elton John, being the musical savior we have suddenly turned him into, fought to get the still low-profile singer a performance spot and did so by performing with him. The end result: “The A Team” sounds like a lost Honky Chateau B-side and we ain’t even mad.
Eminem came under fire for his use of homophobic slurs in his music. He responded by inviting music’s most openly gay star on stage during his Grammy performance then holding hands with him at the end in the most haters-to-the-left move in the history of the universe. Probably.
The Backstreet Boys
“I Want It That Way”
Elton and the Backstreet Boys actually have a bit of history. A the Grammys one year, the Boys backed up Sir Elton on a version of “Philadelphia Freedom,” and he repays them, supporting them on their biggest hit. Without being behind the comfort of his piano, Elton strolls around on stage as if he’s the lost sixth member of their group and its everything you want an Elton John version of a BSB song to be.
Alice in Chains
“Black Gives Way to Blue”
This may possibly be the weirdest guest appearance Elton has ever done. On Black Gives Way to Blue, the 2009 Alice in Chains release and first without the late-Layne Staley, the band invited Elton to play piano on the title track which was actually written as a tribute to the passed on singer. Elton’s contribution, though great, is overshadowed by new singer William DuVall, who sounds like an exact vocal replica of Staley while singing about his death. Super eerie.
Queen & Axl Rose
At a Freddie Mercury tribute concert, Elton naturally took the lead on the piano-driven epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and did the song as much justice as you would expect one legend to deliver in honor of another. In a moment of sheer brilliance, Axl Rose jump-twirls aggressively on stage and takes on the more aggressively rock part of the song before it slows back down. Clad in a leather skirt (something he can use in June to bond with fellow Governor’s Ball headliner Kanye West), Axl looks genuinely excited and thankful to be up there with not only the remaining members of Queen but Elton as they harmonize on the song’s close.
Guns ‘N Roses
At the 1992 MTV VMA’s, Elton played piano with Axl as the latter’s band performed their massive ballad “November Rain.” Elton doesn’t sing on it, and that’s kind of a waste because just think of how that song would sound as an Axl/Elton duet. Thought about it? Now be disappointed with us.
Fall Out Boy
“Save Rock and Roll”
Fall Out Boy’s return has a small collection of unique guest stars, including Big Sean, Courtney Love and Foxes. The best, however, is our friend Sir Elton, who pops up in the final and title track “Save Rock and Roll. It’s a passionate power ballad in the same vein as past single “What a Catch, Donnie,” which had an appearance from a different classic rock star, Elvis Costello. Saving rock and roll is probably what Elton is doing with all these guest appearances, and they won’t be ending any time soon. He’s planning another album guest spot, this time with Queens of the Stone Age.