It’s Elton John’s birthday today. The out singer has a bounty of hits spanning more than four decades, but we’re going to take a look at the flip side—his greatest songs that didn’t get the due they deserve.
What are your favorite lesser-known Elton singles? Check out our Top Ten and share your picks in the comments section.
“Victim of Love”
Do you remember Elton’s disco era? It mercifully only lasted one album, 1979’s Victim Of Love, one of the worst selling records of his career. He didn’t write any of the songs, or play any of the instruments, but title track is still endearing. It’s unlike anything Elton had ever done before or since.
Elton made a comeback in 1980 with 21 at 33, which gave us the huge hit “Little Jeannie.” Sadly, the excellent ballad “Sartorial Eloquence” barely scratched the Top 40, peaking at #39.
“Flames of Paradise”
Jennifer Rush had a huge career in Europe when she paired up with Elton for what should have been a surefire hit, the bubbly “Flames Of Paradise.” But it stiffed on the chart, peaking at #36 in 1987.
21 at 33 was followed up by 1981’s The Fox, which featured two of his most underrated singles of the decade: “Nobody Wins” is catchy as hell, but it stalled at #21 on the chart.
The second single from The Fox is a gorgeous ballad that should have scored higher than #34.
“Kiss the Bride”
He made a huge chart comeback with 1983’s Too Low For Zero, which included signature songs “I’m Still Standing” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It Blues.” But the single released between those two is barely remembered. The punchy “Kiss The Bride” peaked at #25.
Breaking Hearts, released in 1984, was another big hit, with the Top Five hit “Sad Songs” and Top 20 “Who Wears These Shoes.” But the third single, “In Neon,” is sadly forgotten. It slumped into the Top 40 at #38.
“Heartache All Over the World”
Leather Jackets from 1986 was Elton John’s worst-charting album, and the final album on his Geffen contract. Elton called “Heartache” the worst song he’s ever recorded, but I appreciate it as a great song. I may be the only one.
1992’s The One was Elton’s biggest selling album in the U.S. in more than a decade, and it’s one of his most cohesive. The title track hit the Top Ten, but two other singles deserved to chart higher: “Simple Life,” which opened the album, peaked #30.
“The Last Song”
Recorded shortly after the death of Freddie Mercury, “Last Song” tells the story of a father reuniting with his estranged gay son, who is dying of an AIDS-related illness. It peaked at #23, but even 20 years later it’s incredibly affecting.