David Bowie vs Elton John – Who Was Better?

David Bowie vs Elton John

Who emerges victorious when you pit two musical legends against one another in a battle between David Bowie vs Elton John?  Both are incredibly talented and accomplished, so in this article, I break down which artist is better based on singing ability, musicality, album sales, number one singles, awards and more!

David Bowie vs Elton John (TLDR)

Both artists have achieved remarkable success, with Bowie’s unique artistry and reinvention captivating audience, and Elton John’s emotive melodies and stage presence. Their contributions to music and their ability to connect with fans have solidified their status as musical icons. 

However, with that said, I believe Elton John wins this battle (but it’s super close).  Let’s dig into how I came to that conclusion.

David Bowie vs Elton John – Album Sales

Both David Bowie and Elton John have achieved remarkable success in terms of album sales. Bowie’s groundbreaking albums like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Let’s Dance captivated audiences, allowing him to sell approximately 140 million records worldwide. Elton John’s prolific discography includes hit albums such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Both of these artists have released a number of the best-selling albums of all time and have the records to prove it. Even after his passing, David Bowie’s catalog continues to be popular with fans old and new alike.

In fact, David Bowie currently holds the top ranking as the best-selling Vinyl artist of the 21st century, beating out even the Beatles.  Rumour has it that at one point during the 1970s, Elton John’s record sales accounted for 2% of all records sold worldwide. Sir Elton has sold a staggering over 300 million records worldwide.

Winner: Elton John

David Bowie vs Elton John – #1 Singles

When it comes to chart-topping singles, Elton John has a clear advantage over Bowie. Bowie’s iconic songs like “Fame,” “Let’s Dance,” and “Space Oddity” resonated with audiences and topped charts worldwide. His music was a bit more eclectic and not always radio-friendly. Of the 28 singles Bowie released, six made it to the top 10 and only two achieved the honor of #1 on the Billboard charts.

On the other hand, Elton John’s timeless hits such as “Your Song,” “Candle in the Wind,” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” achieved immense success and became anthems of their respective eras. Elton John’s 71 singles released is more than double the amount Bowie released. In fact, Elton John managed to have more singles reach the top ten (29) than Bowie released altogether. And out of those top 10 hits, nine managed to reach the top spot on the charts.

Elton John’s paramount success on the radio charts is undeniable. He wins this category by a landslide.

Winner: Elton John

David Bowie vs Elton John – Awards

Recognitions and awards are a testament to an artist’s talent and impact. Bowie and John have received numerous accolades throughout their careers. Both artists are tied at 5 Grammy awards a piece. 

Both have also been recognized with numerous other awards including Brit Awards, American Music Awards, MTV awards, and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bowie’s artistic contributions earned him critical acclaim, while John’s musicality and showmanship garnered widespread recognition.

Winner: Tie

David Bowie vs Elton John – Impact on Music

David Bowie and Elton John have both made significant impacts on music and pop culture, although their approaches and contributions differ in certain aspects.

David Bowie, with his chameleon-like persona and boundary-pushing music, revolutionized the concept of self-expression in the music industry. Throughout his career, he constantly reinvented himself, adopting various alter egos and experimenting with different musical styles. Bowie’s influence on music cannot be overstated. 

He paved the way for genres like glam rock and art rock, inspiring countless artists with his innovative sound and visual aesthetics. His album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is considered a landmark in rock music and solidified his status as a visionary artist.

Elton John, on the other hand, brought a unique blend of pop and rock to the mainstream. His melodic prowess, heartfelt lyrics, and flamboyant stage presence captivated audiences around the world.

Elton John’s catchy hits, such as “Your Song,” “Rocket Man,” and “Tiny Dancer,” became anthems of a generation and continue to resonate with audiences today. His impact on music lies in his ability to create timeless songs that bridge the gap between pop and rock, with his virtuosic piano skills serving as a defining element of his sound.

Winner: Tie

David Bowie vs Elton John – Impact on Pop Culture

In terms of pop culture, David Bowie and Elton John both left an unforgettable mark. Bowie’s androgynous style and avant-garde fashion choices challenged traditional gender norms, inspiring generations of artists and fashionistas.

His theatrical stage performances and iconic alter egos, such as Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, became cultural touchstones. Bowie’s influence extended beyond music, permeating film, art, and fashion.

Elton John’s flamboyant persona and elaborate stage costumes made him a pop culture icon. His fashion choices, often featuring outlandish and eye-catching outfits, became synonymous with his larger-than-life personality. 

Additionally, his openness about his personal struggles, particularly with substance abuse and sexuality, helped break down societal barriers and contributed to greater acceptance and understanding.

Winner: David Bowie

David Bowie vs Elton John – Singing Ability

Elton John and David Bowie are both renowned for their distinctive and powerful voices, yet their singing abilities showcase different styles and strengths.

Elton John possesses a remarkable vocal range, with a strong and versatile voice that effortlessly navigates various genres. His ability to hit high notes with precision and clarity is one of his defining attributes.

Elton’s vocal performances are characterized by his emotive delivery, melodic phrasing, and dynamic control. His voice exhibits a rich and resonant quality, allowing him to convey deep emotions and capture the listener’s attention.

David Bowie, on the other hand, is celebrated for his chameleon-like approach to singing. His vocal style is highly expressive and adaptable, allowing him to experiment with different personas and musical genres throughout his career.

Bowie’s singing is marked by its theatricality, charisma, and unconventional delivery. He has a distinct timbre and a unique ability to convey storytelling through his vocals, captivating listeners with his enigmatic charm.

While Elton John’s singing is often associated with heartfelt ballads and anthemic performances, David Bowie’s vocal prowess shines through his diverse repertoire, ranging from soulful crooning to powerful rock vocals. Both artists possess an exceptional command of their voices and have influenced generations of musicians with their distinctive vocal styles.

Winner: Tie

Overall Musicality

To truly appreciate the greatness of these icons, we delve into their overall musicality, which encompasses their instrumental skills, songwriting abilities, stage performances, and mastery of multiple aspects of the musical craft. 

Bowie’s instrumental versatility extended beyond vocals to guitar, saxophone, and keyboards, while Elton John’s virtuosity on the piano elevated his performances to unparalleled heights.

Songwriting Ability

Both Bowie and John have showcased their songwriting prowess in crafting timeless compositions. Bowie’s lyrical depth and ability to tell captivating stories through his songs, such as “Space Oddity” and “Heroes,” established him as a masterful storyteller. 

Elton John’s collaborations with lyricist Bernie Taupin resulted in a plethora of emotive and poetic songs like “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man,” showcasing his gift for crafting memorable melodies and heartfelt lyrics.

Winner: Elton John

Live Performances

Live performances are a testament to an artist’s stage presence and ability to captivate an audience. Bowie’s theatrical and mesmerizing stage shows, accompanied by elaborate costumes and immersive visual experiences, created unforgettable moments for concert-goers. Elton John’s energetic and charismatic performances, combined with his piano skills and engaging rapport with the audience, have solidified his status as a legendary live performer.

Winner: Elton John

David Bowie or Elton John – Who Wins?

In this battle between two musical giants, it may seem like Elton John may be the clear winner over David Bowie. The truth is that each made significant contributions to music and left a legacy that reaches far beyond this planet. Bowie’s groundbreaking artistry and constant reinvention, combined with his cultural impact, make him an enigmatic and influential figure. 

Meanwhile, Elton John’s enduring melodies, emotive lyrics, and captivating stage presence have earned him a place among the greatest musicians of all time. In a world where musical legends are revered, David Bowie and Elton John stand tall as beacons of creativity, innovation, and showmanship. Their impact on music, pop culture, and the hearts of millions of fans will continue to resonate for generations to come. 

If you enjoyed the article, be sure to subscribe to my Devoted to Vinyl YouTube channel and Facebook page.

This article was written by Justinian and edited by Michael.

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