Elton John has found a solution to a problem every single artist that has come before he has had to face. At 75 years of age, he has been able to maintain relevance in popular culture, and even more impressive, his new music continues to be a hit.
Unlike Elton John, Paul McCartney, who gained extreme amounts of fame in the 1960s and 70s, has continued to come out with music, yet this music has seldom been streamed on music platforms or played in nightclubs or on the radio. His old music continues to outperform his new music.
This phenomenon can easily be explained by popular culture’s fascination for the new and our nostalgia for the old. Fans of artists who gained popularity in the late 20th century want to listen to their music, bringing them back to that time. If they want to listen to something new, they can simply turn on the radio. They turn to Paul McCartney not even necessarily for his music but instead for the feeling of comfort his music provides. In this process, they pass down these songs to the new generation, who then maintain the old music’s relevance. Older artists’ new music never seems to get this support.
How has Elton John managed to crack this impenetrable code of the music industry, you may ask? He sampled his old songs and invited current artists to sing on his new tracks. By doing this, he is able to bridge the gap between what popular culture longs to consume: shiny new sounds and comforting nostalgia. Then, to get another number one hit, a goal he hadn’t achieved in 25 years, Elton John sampled four of his own songs to make a new one, Elton John, Dua Lipa- Cold Heart (PNAU Remix). This song got one billion streams, becoming his first top ten in over 25 years.
As other artists sample songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, Elton John samples himself.