Elton John has his bejeweled, ivory-tickling fingers on the pulse. Listeners of his Rocket Hour Beats1 radio show already know the living legend is way ahead of the curve in detecting today's brightest talents. He's given lots of love to The Lemon Twigs — the Long Island brothers crafting intricate melodic pop sounds that seem straight from the 70s airwaves Sir Elton dominated. He's also spun "Ants," the debut single by rising L.A. rock outfit Star Crawler (most of its members are still in high school), and, of course, shares a mutual admiration for rap's alien virtuoso Young Thug.
But it appears Elton isn't simply keen to support music's next big things; he's on the hunt for film's newest luminaries, too. He's launching a new competition with YouTube called "Elton John: The Cut" in which next generation filmmakers will compete to create the official music videos for his classic hits "Bennie and the Jets," "Rocket Man," and "Tiny Dancer." The three videos are divided into three distinct styles: animation, live action, and choreography.
These submissions will be judged by a seriously knockout panel: Elton, his longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, Beyoncé and Solange collaborator Melina Matsoukas, and Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. This diverse panel is united by its members strong visions and forward-thinking creative convictions. And based on the short song histories — Sir Elton's inspirations span from Ray Bradbury's sci-fi stories to LA hippies and fictional girl glam bands — such a dynamic range of perspectives is crucial.
Next-gen directors face a rather tall order reimagining Elton's classics. This is a man who has performed duets with Ru Paul, created a wartime greaser meets teddy boy school dance romance, and boogied with full body painted muscle men at Cannes. That's right: if you thought a promenade cabaret with punk-inspired beachwear, dancing bell hops in leg warmers, human dominos, and literal clowns would win you this contest, back to the drawing board you go — it's been done.
The three winners will receive $10,000 each and have their videos produced. Applicants can enter here by January 23.
Text Emily Manning