Elton John and Madonna's feud explained: Why the pop legends fell out

5 August 2022, 18:09

Elton John and Madonna waged a war of words for an entire decade.
Elton John and Madonna waged a war of words for an entire decade. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

They're both renowned for being shameless divas.

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And the thing with divas is that they rarely bite their tongues when the situation requires it.

That's likely why two of the world's most notorious pop stars were embroiled in a bitter feud for the best part of a decade.

But why did Elton John and Madonna suddenly take a public disliking to one another?

Of course, musicians are often renowned for having spats with their rivals, but Sir Elton and Queen Madge were never in competition with each other during their glittering careers.

This makes the reason for their dispute even more bewildering, but intriguing nonetheless.

Let's take a look at how the two iconic pop superstars fell out, and why they couldn't bury the hatchet for a decade.

How did Elton John and Madonna's feud start?

madonna and elton john

One of Sir Elton and Madonna's first public appearances together was during the 1995 BRIT Awards, where they took part in a photoshoot together backstage.

Albeit peppered with a few catty comments in either direction, they both seemed to be in a playful mood with one another.

But the bitterness between the two arguably began when Elton branded Madonna's theme track to 2002's Die Another Day "the worst Bond tune ever."

He did confirm that he was a huge fan of Madonna's, but felt the song would've been better suited to someone like "Lulu and Shirley Bassey", or even himself.

That was only the beginning...

What happened at the Q Awards?

Elton John slags off Madonna at the Q Awards

Two years later in 2004 during the Q Awards which were held in London, Elton was awarded with the Classic Songwriter Award.

Madonna was nominated for Best Live Act, and Elton couldn't hide his frustration at the podium despite being handed a prestigious award himself.

"Since when has lip-syncing been live? Anyone who lip-syncs in public on stage when you pay £75 to see them should be shot", clearly not holding back.

"That's me off her Christmas card list, but do I give a toss? No."

Madonna's publicist replied to the Rocket Man's stern words after the award ceremony saying: "Madonna does not lip-synch nor does she spend her time trashing other artists."

"Elton John remains on her Christmas card list, whether he is nice ... or naughty."

Elton reportedly called Madonna a "miserable cow"

Elton and Madonna when they were pals.
Elton and Madonna when they were pals. Picture: Duncan Raban/EMPICS Entertainment

Sir Elton is renowned for not mincing his words, and Madonna continued to be in his firing line long after his lip-synching accusation.

He did say his comments at the Q Awards were "unfair", and he didn't want the situation to "escalate" as he considered Madonna his friend.

"She's been to my house for dinner. It was something I said in the heat of the moment, and probably should not have said," he explained, adding that he would definitely apologise if he saw her in person.

But after Madonna refused his invitation for her to perform at his bachelor party, he was overheard telling his guests that "Madonna, the miserable cow, wouldn't do it."

Of course, it should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but when such things are leaked to the press, they have a field day.

Responding to the media furore, a spokesperson for the 'Like A Prayer' singer stated: "Madonna wishes Elton all the best, and hopes married life will make him a happier person."

Did Madonna have the last laugh?

Madonna and Elton John - The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Arrivals

Most of the animosity seemed to be coming from Elton's mouth, and he was left eating humble pie after the 2012 Golden Globes.

During the build-up to the awards ceremony, Elton said Madonna had "no f***ing chance" of winning against his track 'Hello Hello' for animated kids' film Gnomeo & Juliet.

His over-confidence came back to bite him, as Madonna took the award for Best Original Song.

Elton's husband David Furnish was quick to condemn her win in a since-deleted Facebook post, saying "how these awards have nothing to do with merit" and that her acceptance speech was "embarrassing in its narcissism".

Madonna seemed at ease with the grief she was getting, saying that Elton has "been known to get mad at me, so I don't know," she said when asked about his comments backstage after her win.

"He's brilliant, and I adore him, so he'll win another award. I don't feel bad."

Elton wouldn't let her have the last word however, describing her as a "great singer" who makes "great pop records", but one that acts like a "fairground stripper."

Are Elton John and Madonna friends again?

MADONNA dedicates song to ELTON JOHN in NICE, FRANCE 2012

Even after years of unfair comments targeted at her, Madonna seemed quite happy to move on, bridging the gap during one of her concerts after her Golden Globe award win.

She told one of her audiences in Nice, France: "I'd like to dedicate this next song to a Mr Elton John. I know he's a big fan of it, and I know he's a big fan of mine."

"And you know what? I forgive him. Gotta start somewhere."

Elton was later asked about their feud and if it was still ongoing, to which he replied it was "over and done with."

The pair bumped into each at a restaurant in France and buried the hatchet after Elton bought her dinner.

"I apologised profusely because what I said should have never appeared in public. She was fantastic. She was just like, 'Okay, let's get a move on.'"