Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: What Brands Can Learn From Elton John


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What Brands Can Learn From Elton John's Career

I live for live music. I’ve more than once written about concerts or festivals in my blogs because it's something that brings me incredible joy and happiness. In 2022, I attended club-style shows with bands like Phoenix and Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness and huge stadium extravaganzas like Paul McCartney and Kenny Chesney, but nothing I saw this year compared to being live and in person for Elton John’s final U.S. tour show at Dodger Stadium on October 20th.  

As I sat at this final show and had a chance to reflect on the 2 ½ hour experience, I began to reflect on how influential Elton John really has been to pop culture and the lessons a brand could take from his career. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses Elton John's impact on pop culture and what brands can learn from his career.

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I Love L.A.

For those that don’t know, Elton first played Dodger Stadium in 1975, just 5 years past his career-changing show at the iconic Troubadour in Los Angeles, so for him to wrap up his touring career back at Dodger Stadium, in a city that held so many iconic memories for him, made so much sense.  I have had the opportunity to see Elton John a handful of times over the years, and each time was a spectacle and a moment. At Madison Square Garden or in a stadium on a co-bill with another legend, Billy Joel, Elton always delivered, but, like all our rock and roll legends, time takes its toll.  We’ve all seen a legendary artist, even if on TV, where you sort of stop and think to yourself that maybe they should have hung it up a while ago, but this night at Dodger Stadium was not one of those nights.  Sure, Elton is no spring chicken anymore, and at 75 years old, he doesn’t move around like he once did, but it doesn’t matter because when you hear his iconic voice, you get lost in the music.

Elton John Hollywood Star

Greatest Hits

The setlist for this final show was filled with hit after hit after hit and included some deeper cuts as well for the die-hards in the crowd. The show started with “Bennie and the Jets,” and when those first staccato notes hit, the stadium was filled with the kind of electricity usually held for when the Dodgers are in the playoffs. As a fan, when this is the opening song, you just know you are in for a great night. The hits continued all through the night. “Rocket Man,” “Candle In The Wind,” “Crocodile Rock,” and more. It’s a little bit funny (IYKYK) that Elton has so many hit songs that, in your head, you could have made the case for ¾ of the set to have been the closing number. What really threw me for a loop though was when, at the fifth song of the night, we get hit with “Tiny Dancer”! What’s funny is that when the song first came out in 1972, it didn’t even climb into the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but now, this song is iconic! A lot of that is thanks to Cameron Crowe, whose use of “Tiny Dancer” in the film Almost Famous gave the song a whole new audience and turned it into a legendary track that we all now sing in the bar with our friends or at a karaoke night. Hollywood and pop culture have that power. This blog isn’t about the endless list of iconic song moments in movies, but this is a reminder that whether it’s a song or a brand, all it takes is one moment in a film or a TV show to give a brand recognition forever.

Elton John Dodger's Stadium Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Tour

Photo Credit: Chris Willman | Variety

Elton Is Pop Culture

Speaking of pop culture, the impact Elton John has made on pop culture and audiences may never be matched again in any of our lifetimes. Go to any rock and roll legend tour, and of course, you will see audiences of all ages, but with Elton, the age splits were all almost even. People in their 60s and 70s who saw Elton in their prime who brought their kids so that the children can one day say they saw Elton in person. Then there are the 20-somethings who also see Elton’s interest and impact on the music they listen to today. As seen by Elton’s recent remix hits where artists like Dua Lipa and Britney Spears helped Elton reimagine his classic songs, Elton is still a tastemaker. There’s also the fashion. So many people at this show dressed up like Elton from different points throughout his career. Some kept it simple with some oversized glasses and a boa, but then there were elaborate costumes all over the place. I saw so many attendees who had thrown on their own version of Elton’s iconic sequenced Dodgers uniform, and even celebrities like Jojo Siwa decided to go all out and had on an orange sequenced jumpsuit with feathers and horns. Elton isn’t just a part of pop culture, Elton creates pop culture, and we may never see this type of tastemaker again.

Jojo Siwa Elton John Concert

Photo Credit: Steve Granitz | FilmMagic

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Take The Risk

I will honestly never forget being at this Elton John show.  The showmanship, the celebrities all around, and the music (most importantly the music). At Hollywood Branded, we spend a lot of time scouring and searching for pop culture moments, and sometimes, those moments take a little while to fully show themselves. There’s no one out there who can question Elton John’s level of fame and celebrity, but when you immerse yourself in his world, you realize that he is, and will always be, in a class of his very own. He didn’t just chase what was popular, he made things popular. When brands look for opportunities in the world of entertainment, let Elton be a reminder that sometimes, in order to be iconic and be remembered forever, you have to take chances like Elton has at every turn.  Thank you Elton John, for decades of hits and moments and a very long walk down the Yellow Brick Road.

Eager To Learn More?

To learn more about how music can affect the entertainment industry, check out a few other blogs we have on the topic...

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