Singer Sir Elton John (search) seems a little … cranky lately.
Not only did he spew venom at pop icon Madonna (search) this week, even using the L word — “lip-synching” — he also recently called a gaggle of Taiwanese photographers “rude, vile pigs.”
All this comes some months after the 57-year-old singer griped that the talent show "American Idol" (search) is racist.
Is this any way for a "knight" and musical legend to act?
The star musician has been outspoken about certain causes in the past and has even taken potshots at the “Material Girl” before.
“He professes to ‘adore her,’” Madonna’s spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg (search) told The New York Daily News. “I don’t know what his problem is. I guess his tiara is on too tight.”
It seems John can't "feel the love tonight” — or most nights in recent weeks, for that matter. Is the “Rocket Man” just ornery? Has the aging process made him bitter? Or is it some sort of bizarre publicity stunt to increase interest in his ongoing concert tour?
One pop culture expert speculated that it’s none of the above.
“My guess would be — and I hate to psychoanalyze someone who’s not on my couch — that he’s reached a point in his career where he’s a musical statesman and that gives him license to say and do whatever the hell he wants,” said Neal Gabler (search), author of “Life: The Movie.”
John’s latest lashing was at Madonna’s expense, when the singer was at the British Q music magazine awards show in London on Monday.
While accepting a songwriting award, the "Candle in the Wind" artist flipped out on the Kabbalah queen, accusing her of lip-synching and growling that he couldn’t believe Madonna had been nominated for Best Live Act (an honor she didn’t end up winning — it went to British band Muse instead).
“Since when has lip-synching been live?” he said. “Anyone who lip-synchs in public onstage when you pay 75 pounds ($134) to see them should be shot. Madonna, best (expletive) live act? (Expletive) off.”
John speculated that his rant would take him “off her (expletive) Christmas card list. But do I give a toss? No.”
Madonna’s "Re-Invention" (search) tour ended in August in Britain and was running at the same time John was doing his own international concert tour. Rosenberg issued a statement saying that the pop icon sang “every note on her ‘Re-Invention’ tour live and is not ashamed that she was well paid for her hard work.”
Rosenberg said Madonna “does not lip-synch, nor does she spend her time trashing other artists” and in spite of John’s verbal whipping, he “remains on her Christmas card list whether he is nice … or naughty.”
The British star's nastiness comes just over two weeks after John went off on the Taiwanese paparazzi, who followed him when he arrived in Taipei for a concert Sept. 23.
The photographers and media swarmed around him at the city’s Chiang Kai-shek International Airport after he landed in a private jet. The knight was furious with authorities, whom he said didn’t properly control the crowd and protect him from the “chaos.”
“Rude, vile pigs!” a fuming Sir John yelled at the group as he went through customs and immigration. “Do you know what that means? Rude, vile pigs! That’s what all of you are!”
“Why don’t you get out of Taiwan?!” shouted back one of the paparazzi.
“We’d love to get out of Taiwan if it’s full of people like you! Pig! Pig!” John retorted.
In April, the musician made headlines for calling “American Idol,” the popular singing competition on FOX, “incredibly racist” after a couple of talented female African-American contestants were voted off by viewers.
Ultimately Fantasia Barrino (search), who is African-American, wound up the winner.
Gabler brushed aside the suggestion John is hungry for a little PR, bad or good.
“I don’t think this is a publicity campaign,” said the FOX News Watch panelist. “I just think he feels like what the hell does he have to lose. He doesn’t need publicity or money; he doesn’t need anything. He’s beyond that. He can pontificate if he feels like it.”
Instead, Gabler speculated that John is just doing what many singers, entertainers and even politicians do when they’ve reached “legendary” status.
“He’s at a point where he feels entitled and in some ways expected to sound off,” he said. “It’s something of a musical tradition.”