Rocketman is set to be one of the best soundtracks of 2019. The Elton John biopic stars Taron Egerton in the central role, with Jamie Bell as John's long time lyricist and friend, Bernie Taupin, with Richard Madden as John's former manager and lover, John Reid.
The Rocketman movie follows Elton John's life from childhood - including his complex relationship with his father and his time at the Royal Academy of Music - to his meeting and working with Bernie Taupin, incorporating all the global fame and addiction issues that followed. Told in a series of flashbacks framed by an Alcoholic's Anonymous meeting, Rocketman is absolutely packed full of Elton John hits.
Some of Elton John's songs are shown in Rocketman as full on musical numbers, while others are merely short bursts of a few bars. But all the Elton John songs are instantly recognizable and enjoyable. Here's a list of all the songs included in the Rocketman soundtrack, whether they're full numbers or little clips:
- The Bitch is Back
- I Want Love
- Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
- Thank You For All Your Loving
- Candle in the Wind
- Border Song
- Rock and Roll Madonna
- I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
- Your Song
- Crocodile Rock
- Tiny Dancer
- Take Me To The Pilot
- Don't Go Breaking My Heart
- Honky Cat
- Pinball Wizard
- Benny and the Jets
- Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- I'm Still Standing
When Each Elton John Song Plays In Rocketman
The first song in Rocketman comes right at the start, and it's "The Bitch is Back." This full song and dance number is performed by Taron Egerton and Sebastian Rich, starting with Elton in rehab. The scene gradually changes until Elton is a child outside his house, and the song plays until Reggie's (Elton's) mother calls him in for dinner. It serves as the perfect introduction to the movie and the central character. The next number, "I Want Love," is performed by Kit Connor as a young Reggie Dwight, with Bryce Dallas Howard as his mother, Sheila; Steven Mackintosh as his father, Stanley, and Gemma Jones as his nan, Ivy. The song has its lyrics changed slightly from the original Elton John version to make it more pertinent to each of the characters.
As Reggie discovers a love of piano and singing, he starts to play in local bars. He begins "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" in a small, smoky bar. The musical fantasy sequence takes us on a chase through the streets and out into a field where a fairground has pitched. Reggie is now an adult, and the vocals are taken over by Taron Egerton. He becomes a pianist for an American soul group on tour in the U.K., and "Thank You For All Your Loving" plays over a montage of his time on tour.
Desperate to make it as a rock and roll singer, Elton, as he is now known, plays the piano for a record executive, and there's a momentary burst of "Candle In The Wind," before he says he can't manage to write any lyrics. Enter Bernie Taupin (Bell). Elton is given an envelope of his lyrics to look over, and the first set of Bernie's lyrics he sets to music is "Border Song." The pair begin to work together in the same unusual style they hold to this day; Bernie writes lyrics and sends them to Elton, who sets them to music. They never write in the same room as each other. During this montage, "Rock and Roll Madonna" plays. They return to Ray Williams and Dick James, the record executives at Liberty Records, playing snatches of "Daniel" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues." They are sent away to write more, and then we see Elton John sitting at the piano of his childhood home, playing and singing the classic "Your Song."
Elton and Bernie are given a record deal, with Elton then booked to play at the world famous Troubadour in Los Angeles. "Amoreena" plays over a montage of the pair heading to the U.S.; a hugely exciting moment for both in the early part of their career. Elton struggles with stage fright, though adopting an outlandish persona to hide his nerves, which he exemplifies in the way he dresses. The first time he takes to the stage at the Troubadour, Elton sings "Crocodile Rock." The version performed by Egerton in the Rocketman movie is changed from the original, to match the fantasy musical sequence being played out on-screen. Fear not, though. After a slow beginning, the classic tune we all know breaks through, and Egerton smashes it.
As Rocketman enters its second act, John Reid is introduced. Reid became Elton John's manager and also his first lover. Elton is wandering around a party alone while "Tiny Dancer" plays, until Reid comes his way. The highly publicized sex scene, which Elton John himself said was an integral part of the movie, takes place between Egerton and Madden while "Take Me To The Pilot" plays. With Bernie Taupin writing his lyrics, Elton John shot to global fame, and this is emphasized with a montage of newspaper articles, screaming fans, and packed gigs. Over the top of this, "Hercules" plays. Having told Reid to look him up if he's in town, Elton cracks on with recording "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Kiki Dee (Rachel Muldoon). There's a great scene of the pair in the recording booth, with Reid walking in, and it's only moments before Elton sends everyone home for the day so he can be with Reid. Reid is depicted in Rocketman as a conniving, unpleasant, and uncaring individual, but to begin with, he encourages Elton John to "dream big," since he's still living at home with his mum. There follows an epic fantasy sequence, with Egerton and Madden duetting on "Honky Cat." The number has an art deco theme to it as Elton acquires cars, clothes, houses, and lots of alcohol and drugs, and it's a standout moment of the movie.
As Elton John's career continues to climb, his dependency on drugs and alcohol increases, and Rocketman takes a sad turn. Bernie tries to intervene, but as Elton John reminds him, "They've paid to see Elton John, not Reggie Dwight." He takes to the stage and blasts "Pinball Wizard," but his life is spiraling out of control, and Bernie heads home for a break. "Rocketman" is perhaps the most moving song of all; Elton takes an overdose of pills, cocaine, and alcohol before trying to drown himself in his pool while all his family are present. It's incredibly sad, and the way the resulting hospital scene is played out is poignant, moving, and very emotional. However, he's still not given the support he needs, and is instead forced out onto stage despite being dangerously addicted to many substances. We see him performing "Benny and the Jets" before he meets Renata in a recording studio. Her kindness shines through, and the pair sing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Their wedding is shown, followed by a pointed shot of the pair emerging from different bedrooms in the morning. Elton's remorse is apparent despite his dependence on alcohol at the breakfast table.
The marriage failed, of course, owing to Elton's sexuality and addiction issues. He meets his mother and step-dad for dinner to tell them this, but they can only criticize not help him, and "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" is sung by Elton, as his family depart and he orders 3 desserts for himself. It's down to Bernie to intervene, with the pair sharing dinner. Bell sings the immortal words, "When are you gonna come down? When are you gonna land?" The song "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is slowed down for Rocketman, and it works beautifully, as Elton sits backstage at a stadium gig, staring at a pile of cocaine, before realizing he needs to enter rehab. Rocketman comes full circle, taking audiences back to the rehab meeting that Elton started in. Finally finding peace with himself, he leaves rehab, singing "I'm Still Standing." The lyrics fit the moment to perfection, and in a fun twist, Egerton has been dropped into the original music video for the single; a joyous, happy ending to an emotive musical biopic.
- Rocketman (2019) release date: May 31, 2019