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Elton John Calls Today's Songwriters 'Pretty Awful'

The Rock Hall great also takes aim at 'American Idol,' labeling TV competitions 'arse-paralysingly brain crippling'

October 19, 2010 1:00 PM ET

Elton John, someone who knows a thing or two about songwriting after collaborating for more than four decades with Bernie Taupin and, recently, Leon Russell, has taken a shot at contemporary songwriters.

Elton told the Radio Times in a new interview, "Songwriters today are pretty awful, which is why everything sounds the same. Contemporary pop isn't very inspiring." While Elton admitted that he is a fan of Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga (whom he performed with at the Grammys), he insisted that it's "important they write their own songs, so they're not at the mercy of anyone."

Before Lady Gaga: Madonna, Elton John and Other Monster Influences

Elton, who was reportedly courted by American Idol to fill the holes at their judges' table, also lashed out against reality singing competitions. "I'm not a fan of talent shows. I probably wouldn't have lasted if I'd gone on one," John said. "Also, I don't want to be on television. It's become boring, arse-paralyzingly brain crippling. I like Simon Cowell, but what he does is TV entertainment."

Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe made several attempts to bring the legendary piano man on board, even admitting that "I must say, I really do love Elton John," but the singer said he declined "because I won't slag anyone off."

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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