Elton John Had A Song That Aged Really Really Badly
Elton John performing Burn Down The Mission live - Elton John / Youtube
White recording artists flocked to Reggae around the mid-1970s, but in the UK, Caribbean music wasn’t groundbreaking. By this point, Elton John was already well on his way to becoming a household name, and he decided to use the reggae sound as a means of elevating his own music.
One song that stands out in this regard is “Island Girl.” There was a presence of a reggae beat and some marimba tossed in for good measure, but otherwise, it’s just a standard song for the singer. Extremely boring, it has some of Bernie Taupin’s weakest lyrical work.
None of the reggae components are inherently disrespectful; but, it was the lyrics by Taupin, which use overtly racist language, that make the song considerably more offensive. Moreover, Taupin even tries to shift perspectives and speak as the girl’s Jamaican boyfriend, who questions what she wants in “the white man’s world.” The problem is that Taupin has established that he is speaking as a white observer, one who finds the idea of a sexualized Black woman both appealing and disturbing.
You can judge the song for yourself with the presented lyrics and the audio below.
+Island Girl +
By: Elton John