DECEMBER 24, 2021

Elton in 2021…the Year in Review


Annually reviewing Elton’s music and career is never a small task…but 2021 kept followers on their toes even more than usual, giving newer fans a feel for what it was like in the 1970s.

By John F. Higgins

Here are just some of the highlights from another amazing, career-defining year:

★ January

  • Elton’s 1973 holiday single, Step Into Christmas, peaks at #8 on the UK Official Singles Top 100, setting the tone for what would become one of Elton’s most chart-dominant years ever. The song had also reached #8 in 2020, both being the highest position the single has achieved since its original issue.
  • Elton’s 2017 box set Diamonds continues its record-breaking residencies on the US and UK album charts. As of this article, they both remain in the running at over 213 weeks - the longest, by far, of any Elton release!

★ February

  • Elton and actor Michael Caine present a video for the British National Health Service to promote COVID vaccinations. The 90-second clip, showcasing Elton’s humour, was filmed at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in January.

★ March

  • Elton celebrates his 74th birthday. "Having the best birthday ever with my 3 wonderful boys,” he posted on his Instagram. “What could be better??"
  • He also releases six rare songs, found deep within the vaults and appearing on 2020’s Jewel Box, onto streaming services for the first time.

★ April

  • Elton sings and plays piano on Rina Sawayama’s re-release of the song Chosen Family, noting his admiration for the song and its artist.
  • Elton, David Furnish, and Neil Patrick Harris host the 29th annual EJAF Academy Awards Viewing Party - this year webcast to the public for the first time. Dua Lipa is the featured musical guest. After performing her own set, she is joined by Elton for Bennie And The Jets and In Love Again.

★ May

  • Elton and Years & Years (aka Olly Alexander) perform a rousing cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s a sin on the BRIT Awards. Their charity single goes on sale the following day, raising funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
  • Lil Nas X ("A hero of mine") and Coldplay's Chris Martin present Elton with the iHeartRadio Icon Award, in Los Angeles, following tribute performances from H.E.R., Brandi Carlile, and Demi Lovato.
  • Elton and David Furnish meet with Lord Frost to discuss the impact of Brexit on touring musicians.

“The government have broken the promise they outlined in 2020 to protect musicians and other creative industries from the impact of Brexit on tours to Europe. They now need to find solutions in both the short and long term to ensure the UK music industry continues to thrive.”

Elton John - June 10, 2021 (via Twitter)

Elton John and Years & Years perform 'it's a sin' at the 2021 BRITs

★ June

  • Regimental Sgt. Zippo, Elton’s long-lost first album, is released on Record Store Day. The LP is the first RSD release to chart for Elton, entering the Billboard Top 200 on June 26.
  • Miley Cyrus’ cover of Nothing Else Matters by Metallica comes out as a single. Elton plays piano on the track, which also includes Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums and Metallica’s own Robert Trujillo on bass. Oh, and 18-time Grammy Award-winner Yo-Yo Ma on cello!

★ July

  • Elton marks his 300th Rocket Hour weekly show on Apple Music radio. Helping to celebrate the achievement - six years on and still going strong - are Zane Lowe and special guests Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks, Andrew Watt, Channel Tres, Chad Smith, Sam Fender, Rina Sawayama, and SG Lewis.
Watch the 300th episode

★ August

  • Elton releases his new single, Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) with Dua Lipa on the 13th. Later in the month, it begins its climb up the UK and US singles charts. Read on for how well it does. Spoiler alert…very well indeed!

★ September

  • The second advance single from Elton’s forthcoming album, The Lockdown Sessions, is released. After All is heavily promoted on TikTok and other platforms by Elton and his partner on the song, Charlie Puth. Together they perform their new single under the Eiffel Tower during a Global Citizens Live concert.
  • Before the month is over, Elton releases another song from The Lockdown Sessions: his first-ever duet with Stevie Wonder, Finish Line.

Elton John and Charlie Puth perform After All at Global Citizen in Paris

★ October

  • Cold Heart reaches No. 1 in the UK on the 21st, overtaking Ed Sheeran’s Shivers with the singer’s support on social media. It is Elton’s eighth No. 1 single in the UK and his first in 16 years - 2Pac’s Ghetto Gospel - or 25 years, if you include just his own singles.
  • Elton gets the wonderful news while in hospital recovering from scheduled hip surgery, undertaken so he can resume his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour with full vigor in January 2022.
  • The following day, Elton releases The Lockdown Sessions, a collection of 16 new and recent collaborations with the likes of Young Thug & Nicki Minaj, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder, and Stevie Nicks. This is Elton’s 35th studio album...and can also be counted as his 15th compilation!

★ November

  • The Lockdown Sessions enters the UK Album chart at No. 1. It is:
     ★ The first Elton UK No. 1 LP in nine years;
     ★ The fifth time an Elton album has entered the UKAC at No. 1;
     ★ Elton’s eighth UK No. 1 LP overall.
  • In the US, The Lockdown Sessions enters the Billboard 200 at No. 10, becoming Elton’s 21st Top 10 album. It remains on both the UK and US charts throughout the year.
  • Cold Heart peaks in the US at No. 11 and places on a number of other Billboard charts, most notably spending its first 18 weeks atop Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales and six weeks at No. 1 on Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs.
  • Elton receives the prestigious Order of Companions of Honour in London, noting how it is "An incredible honour to be made a member … in acknowledgment of my services to music and the fight to end AIDS through the Elton John AIDS Foundation."

★ December

  • Cold Heart gets a new flex when it is nominated for Song of the Year on the 2022 Brit Awards announcement.
  • Elton and Ed Sheeran join festive forces to release their first duet, Merry Christmas. The song enters the UK Singles Chart at No. 1, Elton’s ninth overall and his second in just over a month. The last time he had two UK number ones in one year? Wait for it. Never! And the year isn't even done yet.
  • Merry Christmas gives Elton his 70th Billboard Hot 100 placement. It also debuts at No. 2 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, extending his record for the most top 10s there with 41.
  • Meanwhile, Step Into Christmas makes its annual return to the UK singles chart, quickly rising from No. 72 to No. 13 in just one month.
  • LadBaby, who have held the esteemed UK Christmas Number 1 position for the past three years, re-record Merry Christmas with Elton and Ed, resulting in Sausage Rolls For Everyone. On December 24, the charity single enters the Top 100 at No. 1.
  • This means that Elton, who has been recording and releasing music since 1967, now has:
     ★ His first Christmas No. 1!
     ★ Three No. 1 UK singles in one year - extended his own personal record set just a week ago.
     ★ FOUR singles and TWO albums on the UK charts simultaneously..another first!
  • Deep trivia: Elton performed as an uncredited session musician on Lily The Pink by The Scaffold, which was 1967's Christmas No. 1. Deeper trivia: Tim Rice also sang backing vocals on the song - 27 years before he and Elton created the songs for The Lion King.
  • Across the Atlantic, Elton currently has two singles and two albums on the charts. To find the last time he achieved that in the US, one would have to go back to February 1977 when Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word and Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance!) were on the singles chart and Elton John’s Greatest Hits and Blue Moves sat in the Top 200.
  • Lastly, Elton has, for the first time, cracked the Top Ten of Most Monthly Spotify Listeners with 59.5 million, placing him at number nine on the list, just behind Taylor Swift and ahead of artists like Billie Eilish, Drake, and Bruno Mars. He has more monthly Spotify listeners than the Beatles and Elvis Presley combined.

All of us at wish you a very happy and healthy 2022 and we look forward to bringing you much more of everything Elton through his official website and social platforms.

Thank you for joining us!


UK Official Singles and Albums Chart: 24 December 2021