Elton John told an audience at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday that the MTV generation had promoted many musicians who didn’t deserve the attention, but he also paid tribute to the positive role that music videos have played in the music business.
John, who was on-stage with his long-term song-writing partner Bernie Taupin, said: “We were before the MTV generation and I’m glad we were because we were real artists. The MTV generation brought along a lot of people who were great but a lot of people who just made videos. So a lot of the artistry went out of the music.”
The singer, who was answering questions from Spike Lee at the winners’ presentation for a new music-video competition, added: “Visuals — whether it is a painting, a drawing, a piece of film, a video — enhance music. You get to use your imagination; you get into it.”
The competition, titled “Elton John: The Cut,” was launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John’s songwriting partnership with Taupin. The contest, which was staged with the support of YouTube, asked entrants to create music-videos for three of the singer’s songs: “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Bennie and the Jets.”
The winners were Majid Adin, an Iranian refugee, who created an animated version of “Rocket Man” with director Stephen McNally, Max Weiland for a live-action film set in Los Angeles for “Tiny Dancer,” and Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill, who produced a futuristic dance-show to accompany “Bennie and the Jets.”
The judges were John, Taupin, Barry Jenkins, who directed Oscar-winning movie “Moonlight,” Hollywood film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Grammy award-winning music-video director Melina Matsoukas.