A Review of the Rocketman Soundtrack

Jordan R. Scott '21, Staff Writer

As some fanatics may know, Elton John’s biopic Rocketman was released in theaters in May of 2019, specifically released in the United States on May 31st. Even if you have no idea who this flamboyant pianist and rock god of the seventies and beyond is, I’m almost certain that music lovers with an appreciation for rock music of any kind have heard at least one of his songs. This past decade has been infamous for retelling the narratives of some of music’s most iconic artists including New Edition, Bobby Brown, Freddie Mercury and the other members of Queen, as well as Lifetime’s account of Bobby DeBarge’s life before and after his family’s rise to fame. But the finesse that was brought to the production and execution of this film, as well as Taron Eagerton’s vocals as Reginald Dwight flowering into the Rocketman we know him as today, will go down in history as some of the best theatrics the world has ever seen.


It was only a year prior to November when Bohemian Rhapsody was released, and it was earlier this year that Rami Malek and the cast of the film received accolades for their performances during the Oscars. While Freddie is a very entertaining personality, and songs such as “We Are The Champions” will always have a place in our hearts. The methods the producers used to bring the personality and events of Elton John’s story to life not only involved the audience by giving them the opportunity to step into his shoes through singing along but also exhibits the versatility that Elton’s talents as a composer. Bernie Taupin’s knack for writing can reach out to an audience in a way that can relate to these memorable lyrics in a way they might not have thought possible. The soundtrack itself is comprised of some of Elton’s greatest hits and even some songs that bring a sense of nostalgia to die-hard fans that probably rushed to the cinema the day the film was available to the public. 


What sets this interpretation apart from the other re-enactments of musical genius is the type of movie itself, which is not only a biopic, but also a fantasy/musical film, which means that these hits were accompanied by amazing ensembles and even more amazing dance numbers. The fantasy aspect was used to express Elton John’s emotions and his fantastical point of view during the highs and lows of his extensive music career. To give you an idea of what that was like, Taron Eagerton had the pleasure of portraying Elton stepping onstage for the first time debuting the song “Crocodile Rock,” and, while doing a handstand off of his piano (a trademark action for an introvert that lets the audience fuel his wild side), there’s a brief minute during the outro where he and the audience defy gravity. Everyone, including Elton, is bewildered and astonished as their feet momentarily leave the ground, and as soon as that moment began, the crowd comes crashing down and becomes more lively than ever as Elton brings his winged boot onto the piano and bangs on the keys the way he had only dreamed of doing as a child. This type of cinematography brought about a lot of powerful as well as light-hearted and comical moments, while also staying true to events that took place in that moment and time. 


One of my favorite moments of the film was the “Honky Cat” musical number, where Elton and John Reid, his manager at the time (played by Richard Madden), were reaping the rewards of Elton’s rise to fame. In this scene, there were various props being used to emulate several luxurious hobbies that the singer participated in such as signing autographs, posing for the paparazzi, buying expensive art and an even more pricey wardrobe, and even taking a joking stab at his early stages of cocaine use (Taron stands on a table and keeps joyously singing even as a baseball knocks into his forehead at a somewhat severe impact). 


Nonetheless, there was a moment that topped even that. Elton is thrust onstage during a flawless transition from being carried on a hospital gurney to having the “nurses” dress him in his Brooklyn Dodgers get up for another big show in front of millions of people. During the beginning of the scene as Elton is drifting to the bottom of a pool, he notices his younger self wearing an astronaut costume and playing piano while singing the opening lyrics of the song this movie was built around, seemingly representing his former self flashing before his eyes in the two minutes before party goers dive down to bring Elton out of the pool. “Rocketman” is the song used, and is appropriate for this moment because the lyrics are reminiscent of his depressed and isolated state of mind during this time, while also showing a bit of optimism. He goes from frowning during his costume change to putting on a big smile for the audience, for the sake of being able to escape the monotony to bring joy to others and himself. Not only that, but as he finishes performing during that same scene, he becomes a literal rocket and soars high into the sky, ending his performance by soaring towards the moon and exploding into fireworks of every color. 


If anything can be taken away from the music and Elton’s cheery disposition, it’s that we’re all human enough to go through the most devastating of moments even if it seems as though people we see every day don’t have a care in the world. And even when we find ourselves feeling a little low, we have the will to power through if we really do want to live happier, more fulfilling lives. Which brings me to the finale of the entire soundtrack and the end credits song, which was an entirely new composition that both Elton and Taron sing together. “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” is a true testament to Elton’s inspiring turnaround in life and his message to his fans and the world that it’s never too late to love yourself at any point in life and to chase your dreams while doing so. There is no doubt in my mind that by the time the 2020 Oscars comes around, this movie and the music behind it will definitely be in the running for some well-deserved recognition. This soundtrack is an energetic, colorful, and motivational narrative from beginning to end, and if you still haven’t listened to it, you really are missing out.