July 31, 2000
The Road To El Dorado
...he's a sentimental old queen who's tickled the underbelly of mediocrity.
With this incredible album popular culture has reached Godzilla-sized maturity. Goodbye, Soho, boho art-house pretension. So long, gritty, lefty realism. Be seeing you, irony, postmodernism, satire, surrealism... Alternative? You're so out of here, baby.
It's something like when snoot intellectual Adorno stated there should (or could) be no poetry after Auschwitz. Elton, both on this record and in his personal history, has exposed the indolence, fripperies and contemptuous nature of the whole art regime and star-maker machinery, as to make any attempts to pretend there can be genuine, noble artistic endeavour a hideous, stinking lie.
How to explain the breadth of its monstrousness? Suffice to say this: The Road To El Dorado is a Hollywood-made kiddies animation which celebrates the Spanish attempt to reach (pillaging, raping, slaughtering, disease-spreading as they went, but naturally that bit's not mentioned) the fabled Inca city which the invading conquistadors of the 16th century believed to be made of gold. It 'stars' Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline as the two jocular, chisel-chinned heroes and husky Hispanic miss Rosie Perez as the doe-eyed love interest. This is the soundtrack. It is co-written by Sir Tim Rice.
The songs themselves veer from the schmaltzy, buddies-on-the-road musical story-tellers like the title track, complete with Elton's chocolatey, claggy, '80s vocals; to world-weary sobfests (presumably the bit where the Piglet-like, oversize helmet-wearing gofer falls prey to the crims in the big city); to the fantastically naff, most outrageously racist load of jingoist tripe since Goebbels whistled 'Dixie'.
"Running wild on the trail we blaze/Turning fact into history", tootles the lyric of 'The Trail We Blaze' - fucking scorched earth policy or what? '16th Century Man' (imagine old music-hall hoofer Lionel Blair giving it the full 'eyes and teeth') twitters, "Just because we're Hispanic doesn't mean we're oceanic/Frankly we've had water up to here"! Like, w-h-h-h-atttt?! If it had a snitch of irony it'd be on a par with Springtime For Hitler or Elephant Man: The Musical. As it is, it's on the same scale of wilful historical deceit as the denial of the holocaust.
So why is NME even bothering to review this, eh? Because we must learn from history, people. Elton John is to blame for the whole pernicious cult of celebritydom. It was he who started the whole star confessional bandwagon rolling (on these very pages, in 1995, when he confessed to an eight-grammes-a-night coke habit). It was Elton who took under his wing the gagsome no-talents of Barlow, Williams, Hurley, Geri, Posh, Di; he's a sentimental old queen who's tickled the underbelly of mediocrity and coaxed it out into the open. And for this he must be spurned.
And anyway even his 'best' song, 'Rocket Man', was just a poor rehash of Bowie's 'Space Oddity' - he is The Beatles' Gallagher, the nation's Queen Mother, the king of cultural dumb-down, the Spanish-exported pox that laid waste a continent. Elton John: enough to give you art attack.666
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