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'I Want Love'... and Actors in Music Videos, Please

Justin Timberlake as Elton John in 2001Ten years ago right about now, Elton John's "Songs From the West Coast" dropped. I bring this anniversary up because...

a) I love to celebrate anniversaries
b) music videos are short films
c) an irregularly curated side-obsession of mine is tracking film actors who've appeared in music videos.

For the videos from the album, his last hit-parade album (though not his last album), he used actor/musicians rather than himself, including a pre comeback Robert Downey Jr back when everyone still worried for the actor's very life and he seemed like an open wound... which really worked for this video.

Just love that one, don't you? It was directed by Sam Taylor-Wood before the days of her award winning narrative short Love You More and before she graduated to features with the John Lennon early-years bio Nowhere Boy (starring her future babydaddy Aaron Johnson).

In the follow up videos "This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore" and "Original Sin" Elton John used two pre film-stardom singers: Justin Timberlake as Elton himself and Mandy Moore as a devoted fan. In the latter Elton does appear and drags Elizabeth Taylor along with him in pink-turbaned cameo as "Doris" because, you know, Elton does love to flaunt the company he keeps. Was "Doris" an inside joke of some sort between them? 

Maybe JT got a taste for his acting future right here because he keeps playing important men from the music industry (Sean Parker in The Social Network and now Neil Bogart in Spinning Gold)

What's your favorite Elton John song? And if you were celebrity-aware back in 2001, did you ever dream of such enormous movie stardom waiting just around the recovery corner for Robert Downey Jr.?


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Reader Comments (13)

OMG. Elton is totally getting me through that part of the school year where you've just completely had enough but you've only been back for like five weeks. Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, The Bitch is Back, Your Song, Daniel, I Want Love, the list goes on. I may be a tad obsessed.

October 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterolivia

Oooh, i love both of these songs. The whole album, really. I play them constantly. My favorite Elton John song might be 'Can't You Feel The Love Tonight' though. It's so romantic. Also, with his songs, i don't sound completely awful when i sing along so that's a huge plus.

There's also 'Your Song' but after Ewan McGregor's excessively gorgeous rendition, it has never sounded the same to me. It doesn't make me want to dance on clouds above Paris while the moon sings in his tenor voice.

With the 'I Want Love' video, it was a great choice to put Downey Jr. front and center because it did add bite to an already sombre song. I just hoped he could get things together and he did. would it have the same impact if it was Lindsay Lohan in the main role?

October 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

OK. Original Sin. Let's discover who the look-alikes are.

Streisand, Midler, Bono, Cher and their child, and Bo Derek are there.
I guess that one at the beginning is Minnelli.
But who is the brunette she kisses immediately after Midler? The brunette has a fiar-haired boyfriend.
Early on she kisses a blonde. Is she supposed to be somebody? This blonde also has a husband. Who are they?

And is there anybody else in the backgroud?

Nathaniel... I loved these two videos! Thanks for sharing!

October 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Justin Timberlake could land the role of Elton John in his new biopic. I maybe could buy that.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTia

I remember being about four and love-loving "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues." Odd to listen to it now.

I guess my favourite Elton is "Levon," but this "I Want Love" video has to be one of my fave videos of all time -- so simple, so touching, and it feels like the song.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

I don't have a favorite Elton song, but I do like his music. I remember I was going to do an analysis of I Want Love for a film class where we had to dissect all the elements of a short form video. Unfortunately I couldn't get a copy of the vid in time because it was just after VH1 stopped playing the heck out of it. How times have changed post-Youtube. Went with Fat Boy Slim's Weapon of Choice with Christopher Walken instead.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCity_Of_Lights

From this album, my favorite song is The Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes. Such a sad but still pretty upbeat song. I do love I Want Love, and I also love The Emperor's New Clothes, The Wasteland, Dark Diamond and Love Her Like Me (just to mention a few that haven't been mentioned).

Your Song is definitely one of my all-time favorites, but I also love Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, The Heart of Every Girl, Daniel, Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me, Empty Garden (his John Lennon tribute, what a beautiful song), I'm Still Standing, Crocodile Rock, the list does go on and on, so many graet ones.

But, if I had to choose an all-time favorite of his, I would go with his touching tribute to (presumably) his father, The Last Song. I get close to tearing up every time I hear that song, particularly the chorus "I can't believe you love me, I never thought you'd come, I guess I misjudged love between a father and his son."

Thanks for sharing, Nat. I remember discovering Elton John after The Lion King was released (and I was only six at the time). He is one of my favorites.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Ah Elton. One of the amazing things about art and life is that over the course of many years, you realize you have a relationship with an artist that, while obviously unreal in some ways, is very tangible and trackable in others. Believe it or not, I remember the days when Elton was arguably the biggest star in the world and no one in my junior high 1970s world new he was gay. Then I remember all the cool kids turning on him when he outed himself in Rolling Stone. I saw him play a show in Honolulu two years ago, just him solo at the piano, and it was pretty stunning. Still standing indeed. Anyway, thanks for these videos. I am actually excited for this bio-pic. I can see a hundred ways it could go wrong, but if it is good? It could be stunning. Wnen I was a closeted kid, Elton was actually the only out man I had access too as a role model. Yeah, he has fucked up a lot along the ways, but who hasn't? He's doing great now. God bless him. Favorite songs? Your song. Rocket Man. Levon. Tiny Dancer. The classics.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertimothy

I don't know that many Elton John songs but I'm Still Standing is my favorite. Love it!

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I love candle in the wind and i would have charlize theron play her in the video singing the lyrics on her last night alive.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrripley

Thanks for highlighting these videos. I like "Mona Lisa's and Mad Matters" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Thanks, Nat. I feel like when Schroeder forgot Bethoven's birthday, and Lucy had to remind him. I didn't realize about the 10 year anniversary, but I probably should have. (However, Elton did hit #3 with his last album, The Union, the one with Leon Russell).

As far as my favorite Elton song... How about Elton's Song, from 1981's The Fox. It's very romantic, but the video actually caused a bit of a scandal when the subject was a same-sex crush.

Someone Saved My Life Tonight, We All Fall in Love Sometimes/ Curtains are his best songs from his best produced album, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Gus Dudgeon was an awesome producer on that album, getting a great sound from the band.

So those are some good ones, and may not be as well known as some of the radio hits.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob H

I remember seeing Robert Downey Jr. in this video and being very impressed by his star power and acting chops (not to mention sexiness). I'm so glad he made a comeback!vJT rocked it too.

As for my favorite song... Too many to choose from! I'd have to go with "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", followed by "Benny and the Jets" and "I want love". The Lion King soundtrack trumps it all though!

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
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