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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 14:46 GMT
Sir Elton slates pop industry
Sir Elton John criticises the modern pop industry
Sir Elton had his first chart single hit in 1971
Sir Elton John has hit out at the state of the modern pop scene, comparing the music of stars like Steps to packets of cereal.

The veteran pop star told BBC Two's Newsnight there was too much music that sounds the same in the charts now.

He argued there were too many average bands stifling the chances of real talent getting airplay and sales - and said he was sorry for those caught up in the Pop Idol phenomenon..


I shouldn't have done that album in a million years

Sir Elton John on One Night Only
But music industry reaction to Sir Elton's comments has been muted.

Sir Elton told Newsnight: "Record companies want the quick buck from the Backstreet Boys, NSync, Britney Spears, S Club 7's, the Steps - they've always been around, I'm not knocking the music perhaps, but it's like packets of cereal."

  Watch the full interview with Sir Elton

He said there was still talent in the UK music scene, naming Craig David, David Gray, Coldplay, Stereophonics and Radiohead as "quality artists".

Pop idol finalists Gareth gates and Will Young
Pop idols, but for how long?
"I don't want to see untalented artists selling millions of records when there are talented people who aren't," he said.

Sir Elton also criticised greatest hits albums, including his own recent live album One Night Only.

"I shouldn't have done that album in a million years and I did and I regret doing it," he said.

But he argued it was the record companies that demanded it, saying they put the pressure on just before Christmas, when they knew they could make a lot of money.

Pop Idol

Sir Elton admitted to not having watched Pop Idol - but said he had concerns about the phenomenon.

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton: "Let's just have music"
"I feel sorry for the people that win those things because they may have talent, they can sing, but they don't have any experience other than being able to appear on television and that's scary," he said.

He was not sure where they would be in three to four years time. He said the record companies had a responsibility to look after them.

He went on to say there was very little long term thinking within the music industry, with the emphasis placed on instant success.

He singled out videos for diverting bands from concentrating on their music: "If I was king of the music business I'd do one thing, I'd close down all the video stations - let's just have music, can we?

David Gray
David Gray: A "quality artist"
"Take the money that's being put into the videos - which all comes out of royalties at the end of the day - put it into equipment and put them out on the road, playing second on the bill.

"That's how I started, that's how U2 started, the Police started - it's a great experience."

And he did not hold much hope for the future of the industry, saying in America there were few people in the business who knew much about music.

"Until you get people who really love what they're doing and have an eye and a longing to establish an act and see them through and take care of them then nothing's going to change," he said.

'Opinion'

Music industry reaction to Sir Elton's comments was muted.

Pete Waterman, who originally put together and managed Steps, said in a statement conveyed by his office: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion - even if it isn't the same as mine."

A spokesman for Jive records, home of the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync and Britney Spears, said: "Elton's within his rights to say what he likes, and I'm sure he's got no personal beef with the artists."

And a Polydor spokeswoman said: "He just mentioned S Club 7 in passing - he wasn't slamming them.

"There are all different types of music in the industry, catering for all different kinds of audience."

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