Elton John: How He Feels About The Weeknd Sampling ‘Your Song’
Elton John is currently having a cultural renaissance. Over the past few years, John’s life was the subject of the critically acclaimed movie Rocketman. In addition, several prominent artists like Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus have covered his songs recently. Now, one of John’s signature hits has been incorporated into a song by The Weeknd.
Specifically, The Weeknd sampled a portion of John’s signature hit “Your Song” on his new track “Scared to Live.” Obviously, changing a classic song like “Your Song” is a high wire act. John has opened up about his feelings on “Scared to Live.”
‘Your Song’ and the world of modern sampling
“Scared to Live” includes a hook where The Weeknd briefly sings “I hope you don’t mind/I hope you don’t mind.” The words and their rhythm is identical to the chorus of “Your Song.” Although “Your Song” has appeared in films like Moulin Rouge! and been covered by numerous artists, never has someone sampled it before.
Sometimes artists don’t like when other artists sample their work. Barry Gibb was famously upset when Wycleaf Jean incorporated Gubb’s vocals from “Stayin’ Alive” into his song “We Trying To Stay Alive.” Gibb told MTV News “I have to say I do not like anyone sampling our voices. Don’t like it. Don’t approve of it.”
Of course, we live in a musical world where artists often don’t own the rights to their songs. It can be quite easy for one artist to use another artist’s work without their permission. The Weeknd plausibly could have sampled a John song without John’s permission.
What Elton John thinks of ‘Scared to Live’ and The Weeknd
The Weeknd recalled what happened when he played “Scared to Live” for John. He was very worried John might dislike the track. The Weeknd went to talk to John during an Oscar party and told him he had a “surprise” for him.
Despite The Weeknd’s nervousness, John had a positive attitude towards The Weeknd’s use of his song. John said he expected The Weeknd to have a long and successful career. In an interview with Zane Lowe, John praised The Weeknd for making “proper music.”
Firstly, John enjoys the blend of old and new sounds on The Weeknd’s recent song “Blinding Lights.” Oddly enough, 1980s synthpop is having a resurgence and John likes the way The Weeknd worked that genre into “Blinding Lights.” John opined “I always have done and you can tell by the videos for the new album as well that it’s kind of … ‘Blinding Lights’ is such an 80’s-type record and it hits the nail on the head so perfectly, blending it with Abel’s sound.”
Secondly, John likes The Weeknd as a person. John said The Weeknd has “always been such a sweet and lovely humble man.” That’s a million miles away from the heartless playboy The Weeknd portrays on some of his hits! The Weeknd can certainly take pride in the fact that John had such glowing things to say about him and his music.
Also see: How Did Lady Gaga and Elton John Meet? Inside Their Family-Like Friendship