Nikita (song)

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Single by Elton John
from the album Ice on Fire
B-side "The Man Who Never Died" (U.K.)
"Restless" (U.S.)
Released 29 October 1985 (UK)
February 1986 (U.S.)
Format CD, vinyl record (7" and 12")
Recorded 1985
Genre Soft rock
Length 5:44 (album version)
4:54 (single version)
Label Rocket (UK), Geffen (U.S.)
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Act of War"
"Wrap Her Up"
Ice on Fire track listing
"Soul Glove"
"Too Young"

"Nikita" is a song by English singer Elton John about the Cold War from his 1985 album Ice on Fire. Released late in the year, the song was successful in many countries and was a top ten hit in almost all of them.

Song synopsis[edit]

In the song, Elton John describes his crush on a person called Nikita, a border guard whom he cannot meet because he is not allowed into the country. It features George Michael and Nik Kershaw on backing vocals, and is notable for a distinctive synthesizer solo.[1] The song charted at #3 on the UK Singles Chart, charting at #7 in the US. [2]


The song is composed in the key of G major in 4/4 time. The song employs a verse-chorus-verse format, with the second chorus being shorter than the first, plus a mechanically-themed breakdown halfway through the second chorus.

Video settings and song information[edit]

The video for the song "Nikita", directed by Ken Russell, featured Anya Major in the role of Nikita and a cameo appearance by Justin Lewis.[citation needed] Elton John accepted the proposed script written by Russell which was a male-female love interpretation of the song, as indeed the depicted East German border guard in the video is a blonde woman with short hair. Scenes showing the two together in various happy situations, including wearing the colours of Watford F.C. of whom John is a supporter, were based in fantasy. In interviews, John has said that he was aware that Nikita was a male name in Russian.[citation needed]

In 1986, in the wake of the song's success, video actress Anya Major recorded a spin-off song titled "Moscow Nights" which she released under the stage name "Anya"[3].

Allegation of plagiarism[edit]

Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Big Pig Music were accused of plagiarism by South African photographer and songwriter Guy Hobbs. Hobbs wrote a song in 1982 entitled "Natasha", about a Russian waitress on a cruise ship, who was never allowed to leave it. The song was copyrighted in 1983, and sent to Big Pig Music (John's publisher) for a possible publishing deal, but Hobbs never heard back from the publisher. In 2001, Hobbs came across the lyric book to "Nikita" and noticed similarities with his song. Despite repeated attempts by Guy to contact John over the issue, he never heard from him and so commenced legal action in 2012.[4][5] On 31 October 2012, a US federal judge granted John and Taupin's motion to dismiss, finding that the song did not infringe Hobbs' copyright because the only similar elements were generic images and themes that are not protected under copyright law.[6][7]

Track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "Nikita" — 4:54
  2. "The Man Who Never Died" — 5:10
or "Restless" — 4:26
or "I'm Still Standing" — 3:03
or "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" — 6:12
12" maxi
  1. "Nikita" (album version) — 5:43
  2. "The Man Who Never Died" — 5:10
  3. "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" (live) — 3:26
  4. "I'm Still Standing (live) — 4:38


Charts and sales[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"The Power of Love" by Jennifer Rush
Irish IRMA number-one single
16 November 1985 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"A Good Heart" by Feargal Sharkey
Preceded by
"Take on Me" by a-ha
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
7 December 1985 – 25 January 1986 (8 weeks)
Preceded by
"Take on Me" by A-ha
Swiss number-one single
8 December 1985 – 29 December 1985 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie
German number-one single
13 December 1985 – 3 January 1986 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Jeanny" by Falco
Preceded by
"Room That Echoes" by Peking Man
New Zealand RIANZ number-one single
24 January 1986 – 7 February 1986 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I'm Your Man" by Wham!
Preceded by
"Take on Me" by a-ha
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
25 January 1986 – 8 February 1986 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Sun Always Shines on TV" by a-ha


  1. ^ "Elton John Song Lyrics: Nikita". Retrieved 3 January 2007. 
  2. ^ Retrieved 27 June 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Voelker, Daniel (26 April 2012). "Guy Hobbs (Plaintiff) versus Sir Elton Hercules John, Bernard John Taupin, & Big Pig Music (Defendants)" (PDF). Entertainment Law Digest. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Dadds, Kimberley (27 April 2012). "Elton John is sued by songwriter for allegedly stealing lyrics to Nikita". Daily Mail. p. D01. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Heller, Matthew (31 October 2012). "Elton John Kicks Copyright Suit Over 'Nikita' Lyrics". Law360. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Sullivan, Shawn (3 November 2012). "Elton John's 'Nikita' Didn't Infringe Copyright In Earlier Cold War Love Song". SullivanLawNet. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Nikita", in various singles charts (Retrieved 12 January 2009)
  9. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 49, 1985". Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2008. 
  10. ^ German Singles Chart Archived 17 June 2009 at WebCite (Retrieved 12 January 2009)
  11. ^ Irish Single Chart Archived 3 June 2009 at WebCite (Retrieved 12 January 2009)
  12. ^ ""Nikita" on the South African Singles Chart". Springbok Radio. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Nikita", UK Singles Chart (Retrieved 12 January 2009)
  14. ^ a b Billboard (Retrieved 12 January 2009)
  15. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  16. ^ "Single top 100 over 1985" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  17. ^ "Single top 100 over 1986" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  18. ^ "French single certifications – Elton John – Nikita" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 22 November 2012.  Select ELTON JOHN and click OK
  19. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Nikita". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 22 November 2012.  Enter Nikita in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search

External links[edit]