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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

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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