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Seventies hits “Rocket Man,” “Bennie and the Jets,” and “Tiny Dancer” were never originally made into music videos, but have come to life after Elton John, Bernie Taupin, and YouTube held worldwide music video competition, “the Cut.”
“These songs were recorded and released before the advent of video,” Taupin said in a video about “the Cut.” “Our songs are very cinematic in scope.”
The team revealed the winning videos at the Cannes Film Festival in honor of the 50th anniversary of John and Taupin’s creative partnership. Directors Max Weiland (“Tiny Dancer”), Majid Adin (“Rocket Man”), and Jack Whitley (“Bennie and the Jets”) won with their submissions.
Weiland’s video for “Tiny Dancer” is both an ode to Los Angeles and an example of how the track might be the most universally known song to sing in the car. The video shows a variety of characters driving around Los Angeles, each on their own mission—whether it be to drop off an old valuable at a Pawn shop, to bury ashes of a loved one, or head to a party with friends. All characters sing along to “Tiny Dancer” as they drive.
“I wanted to make a video about LA, but I also wanted to make the kind of video that was universal, that was about people,” Weiland said. “It is very ambitious to shoot a video like that with that many characters in that short amount of time, and I hope that their stories do come across.”
The video also features Marilyn Manson sitting behind the wheel of a tour bus and petting a snake.
For “Bennie and the Jets,” Whitley and choreographer Laura Brownhill took a more experimental approach. Their video uses black and white visuals and dancing to reimagine just what Bennie and the Jets would have looked like.
“So initially Laura came to me with the idea of the circular, carousel style set,” Whitley said. “From there, we came up with the idea of, ‘What if it’s a contest and we’re exploring the genesis of Bennie and the Jets?’”
The final video, “Rocket Man” fuses the idea of a lonely man in outer space with experience of refugees in the world today. Director Adin, an Iranian refugee who moved to England in 2015, animated his video.
“I was in the Calais Jungle about six months,” Adin said. “My situation, my mood wasn’t good. That moment, maybe because of my situation, it completely came to my mind. That this rocket man is me. We are one, not two person. We tried to make a music video about humanity, about kindness.
Each winner of “the Cut” competition will receive $10,000 to support their future projects.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.