Rocketman has recently soared into theaters, and to rave reviews. People seem to really take to the film's frank depiction of Elton John's unorthodox life, whether it's his flamboyant stage persona, his fraught relationships, or, of course, the music itself.
Unlike some more recent music biopics, such as last year's Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman has many elaborate fantasy sequences, in which Taron Egerton's Elton John sings his songs, sometimes along with other characters as well. So we thought it'd be fun to rank the 10 best songs in the movie, taking into consideration the music and also the dance numbers that go along with them.
Rocketman is framed around Elton speaking at an AA meeting, reflecting on his childhood and what led him to this point in life. When looking back at his family, his younger self starts to sing this song. Soon, his family starts to sing along with him, including his mom played by Bryce Dallas Howard, and his dad, played by Steven Mackintosh.
The song is memorable not only for the commendable singing by all involved but also for the fact that it extends beyond just Elton reflecting. It shows that, even with people as seemingly grim and stern as Elton's father, it's really what we're all looking out for love. This theme would extend through the rest of the film.
This song is sung by both Taron Egerton as Elton and Richard Madden as John Reid, Elton's love interest and later manager. It hits right around when Elton starts seeing roaring success with his music. While in London, John Reid, who Elton had a fling with prior, comes to see him, and he asks Elton what he really wants to do with his newly-found fortune.
What proceeds from here is an extended sequence of Elton splurging his money in various ways, from buying a house to purchasing fancy paintings. John Reid joins him in the sequence, and it's quite a fun ride to see just what Elton spends his money on. Anyone who suddenly found themselves a millionaire overnight would likely do the same. As we soon discover, though, all the money in the world isn't enough to buy Elton happiness.
This song comes at a darker point in Elton's life. Having long succumbed to his drug and alcohol addictions, he has isolated himself from the people he cares about, including his mom and best friend/lyric-writer Bernie Taupin, played by Jamie Bell. It's Bernie who actually starts singing the song, as he finally gets fed up with Elton and leaves him alone in a restaurant.
Later, Elton himself picks it up again, and the songs lyrics reflect a great deal about his current situation. He's saying goodbye to his past self in that moment, which the yellow brick road seems to signify, though we soon discover that he hasn't fully accepted who he is now, at least not yet.
This is one of the brighter songs of the Rocketman soundtrack. Elton has reflected a bit on his life, and yet he still hasn't officially come out as gay. Back in the 1970s and 80s, when much of the movie takes place, it wasn't nearly as acceptable or commonplace as it is today, leading to Elton's decision to stay in the closet. When he starts singing Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, he locks eyes with a lady who is working in the sound studio.
What proceeds from here is the two singing alongside one another, as it appears they have an instant connection. The woman is Renate Blauel, played by Celine Schoemaker, in a brief but memorable performance. As the song continues, it moves forward to when the two get married. We know this wasn't meant to last, though. As someone asks him at the AA meeting in the present, "Did getting married make you happy?" Elton's response: "No, I'm gay." In real life, the marriage lasted only four years.
This song comes early on, after Elton and his band had played their first successful gig. Afterwards, they decide to celebrate, and they attend a large house party. As Bernie goes off with a girl he had met, Elton is left alone. It's here that he starts singing Tiny Dancer, seemingly all alone despite being surrounded by people.
As with much of Rocketman, the songs are metaphoric to the current situations of Elton's life. Here, he reflects not only on his feelings for Bernie, which are not reciprocated but also on the fact that he doesn't feel like celebrating in the same way as everyone else. To Elton, the music itself was always the catharsis, not the praise he got from it. We can see that as he seems to find solace with the singing of Tiny Dancer.
It's this song that had preceded Tiny Dancer in the film. Although we had seen Elton play piano and sing before, it's here that he finally plays before a large crowd. At first he is understandably nervous, yet he eventually comes out on stage, dressed in one of his trademark lavish outfits. With an explosion of sudden sound, Crocodile Rock starts to play, and the crowd eats it up.
This may be one of the more traditional songs of the film, in that it's mostly just watching Egerton as Elton perform it live, yet it's full of a manic and infectious energy, such that you can't help but sing along as the audience. It's the next best thing to a real Elton John concert.
This song comes earlier in the film when Elton was still young, and at that point was still known as Reginald Dwight. He starts to sing it as a boy, played by Kit Connor, and like the lyrics of the song, as he starts to sing, people start fighting one another. Later, he ages into Taron Egerton's version of Elton, and rather than fighting, people are dancing, finally concluding in a stage performance of the song.
The song and dance number is among the more elaborate of the film, resulting in some truly inspired choreography, either of the people fighting or later on with dancing. Since Elton ages in the process, it also reflects on the idea of fighting himself for who he was born as versus becoming who he ultimately will be. And just try not to tap your toe along with the beat.
I'm Still Standing is one of the more triumphant moments of Rocketman. Having beat his drug and alcohol addictions, the song starts to play, complete with Elton singing and dancing on a beach. Clearly, the song's lyrics reflect his current situation, as he had gone through a dark time, but ultimately emerged as a better person on the other side.
The song might be more on the nose than some others, but it's still one of the more hopeful moments of Rocketman. Coming soon after this, we see on the screen the real details about Elton John's life, including how he has remained sober for many years now, and is happily married with children. It shows how his ordeal did end with a happily ever after, and we're all the better for it having witnessed his journey to get there.
One of the best songs of Rocketman is also one of the quieter moments. Here, Elton is simply sitting at his piano in his parents' house, and he plays music along to Your Song after Bernie had written the lyrics for him. Stunned, everyone in the household, including Bernie, hears the soulful tune and comes to witness it firsthand, as if hearing something angelic.
Played beautifully by Taron Egerton, the song is a poignant moment, as at one point Elton looks directly at Bernie, as if playing the song just for him. The friendship between the two is one of the more compelling storylines of Rocketman, and it's here that it seems to show the most. To have anyone sing such poetry to you must mean a lot.
Of course, the title song of Rocketman had to be number 1. This might not be the happiest moment of the movie, but it's one of the most fanciful all the same. When Elton starts singing it, he had just taken a handful of pills and then announces he is going to kill himself as he jumps off a diving board into his pool. While underwater, he witnesses a younger version of himself, who starts singing the song, and it's clear that Elton is wondering just how he could have gotten here.
The sequence is also notable for its underwater choreography, in which Taron Egerton sings while completely emerged, which is an impressive feat. At any rate, this is thankfully the lowest that Elton will sink, both literally and figuratively, and he will ultimately get better from here. He will truly become the Rocketman of the song's title.