Elton John peaked at “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

Since 1994, the legendary British artist has been on a rapid decline. Wonderful Crazy Night is Elton John’s last-ditch attempt to relive the glory years; much like an aging 50-year-old dad going through a mid-life crisis, this album reeks of desperation.

Throughout the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, Elton John was a force to be reckoned with. He was spontaneous, jumping from power ballads “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” to classic rock ‘n’ roll numbers “Crocodile Rock” and “Rock and Roll Madonna.” Elton John was in the prime of his life, and everybody could tell. His rich singing voice exploded with vivacity and liveliness, making any song an instant classic.

His new album is the exact opposite. Through garish and loud melodies, Elton tries to breathe life into an already exhausted career. His effortless dream of a singing voice is off-putting when paired with background tunes that are just this side of trying too hard. Wonderful Crazy Night is just a crazy disaster.  

At its peak of originality, the album begins with the song “Wonderful Crazy Night.” A whirl of tacky melodies nearly overpowering Elton John’s vocals sets the scene as he tries to drag his listeners back to the era of parachute pants and shoulder pads. “Some things you don’t forget, some things just take a hold / a wonderful crazy night like that takes you back, won’t let you go” he sings, and the audience is reminded why they should never try to revive the past. This song is a chandelier in a frat basement: lurid, exaggerated and completely out of place. These unsuitable peculiarities are mimicked in “Claw Hammer” and “Tambourine.” Filled with muted guitar strums, “oh, my lord”s and uninventive, tambourine-inspired lyrics, these songs are so unlike Elton John it hurts. What happened to the man that won hearts over with “Your Song?”

The only two songs that redeemed the album from total failure were the back-to-back “Looking Up” and “Guilty Pleasure.” These two casual rock ‘n’ roll anthems were a breath of fresh air among the achingly slow and stuffy “Blue Wonderful,” “A Good Heart” or “Free and Easy.” With both the steady beat and Elton John’s vocals keeping the songs from dragging along, his abilities as a musician are somewhat vindicated. The problem is, these songs only stand out because they aren’t as tedious as the rest of the album. Standing alone, they would be only decent at best.

Overall, Wonderful Crazy Night is a lackluster stab at relevancy. Through trying to keep his old sound while also trying to channel artistry from current pop hits, Elton John created a chaotic album that is a burned out husk compared to the bright flames of his past. With 30 solo albums in the last 44 years, his music is already timeless. It’s time for Elton John to take a step back and let people remember “Candle In The Wind,” “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long Long Time)” and all that he used to be, in peace.

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