Elton John

Better call Putin! Elton John, the Russian president’s new favourite pop star, has announced his first album in nearly three years and, judging by the first song out of the blocks, it’s a return to the Rocketman’s musical roots.

Wonderful Crazy Night, his 33rd studio album, will be released worldwide on 5 February 2016, John announced to his 505,000 Twitter followers on Thursday, linking to a YouTube tease of its first song, the blues-infected Looking Up.
John’s songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, has once again written the lyrics for the record, which has been co-produced by John and T Bone Burnett – who worked on the stripped-down feel of the singer’s last album, released in 2013.

The Diving Board was well received by critics, including the Guardian’s Caroline Sullivan, who said it struck “the perfect blend of maturity and freshness”.

It was also the first Elton John album in more than 30 years that did not include any of his regular band members. But reuniting for Wonderful Crazy Night will be John’s original drummer, Nigel Olsson, as well as guitarist Davey Johnstone, key to the singer’s sound since 1971.
If Looking Up is representative, the new record is an energetic affair. “I’m looking up more than I look down,” sings John in the chorus, driven by a heavy rhythm guitar. The track will be available to fans who pre-order the record ahead of release, and the album will be accompanied with colourful new portraits by by Jürgen Teller.

2016 may also be the year we see Rocketman, a new film biopic about Elton John, set to star Tom Hardy and billed as a “larger-than-life movie musical spectacle”.

The 68-year-old John maintains an busy performance schedule, including a residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He is also an active campaigner for gay rights, and married his partner, film producer David Furnish, in 2014.

Last month John spoke on the telephone about gay rights to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, but only after the singer was tricked into thinking Putin himself had called to set up a meeting, when in fact he had been hoaxed by two pranksters.