The Lockdown Sessions

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The Lockdown Sessions
Elton John seen wearing sunglasses and a colorful face mask reading "ELTON" in red with stars on it.
Studio album by
Released22 October 2021 (2021-10-22)
Recorded2020–2021
Length65:32
Label
Elton John chronology
Regimental Sgt. Zippo
(2021)
The Lockdown Sessions
(2021)
Singles from The Lockdown Sessions
  1. "Cold Heart (Pnau remix)"
    Released: 13 August 2021
  2. "After All"
    Released: 22 September 2021
  3. "Finish Line"
    Released: 30 September 2021

The Lockdown Sessions is the 32nd studio album by English musician Elton John, released through EMI in the United Kingdom and Interscope Records in the United States on 22 October 2021.[1] A collaborative album, it was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, after John was forced to pause his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour due to lockdown.[2] The album includes three singles: "Cold Heart (Pnau remix)" with Dua Lipa, "After All" with Charlie Puth, and "Finish Line" with Stevie Wonder. A 2022 reissue of the album included "Merry Christmas" with Ed Sheeran and "Hold Me Closer" with Britney Spears.

Background[edit]

The album features several previously released tracks: "Learn to Fly", released in June 2020; "Chosen Family", John's duet with Rina Sawayama on her Sawayama album;[3] the Gorillaz' track "The Pink Phantom" from their 2020 album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, on which John appears as a guest alongside 6lack; John's cover of the Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin" along with Years & Years, released in May 2021;[3] Miley Cyrus' version of "Nothing Else Matters" featuring John alongside various other guests, released in June 2021 from the Metallica tribute album The Metallica Blacklist; and John's collaboration with Lil Nas X "One of Me", from Lil Nas X's debut studio album Montero.

Besides these, the record also features collaborations with other artists including Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, Brandi Carlile, Charlie Puth, Stevie Wonder, Nicki Minaj, Young Thug, Stevie Nicks, and Glen Campbell.[4][5][3]

John explained the project in a statement: "Some of the recording sessions had to be done remotely, via Zoom, which I'd obviously never done before. Some of the sessions were recorded under very stringent safety regulations: working with another artist, but separated by glass screens. But all the tracks I worked on were really interesting and diverse, stuff that was completely different to anything I'm known for, stuff that took me out of my comfort zone into completely new territory. And I realised there was something weirdly familiar about working like this. At the start of my career, in the late 60s, I worked as a session musician. Working with different artists during lockdown reminded me of that. I'd come full circle: I was a session musician again. And it was still a blast."[6]

When the album hit number-one in the UK charts on 29 October 2021, John said "I am so proud of what we have created"[7] and wrote on his social media accounts:

This album is all about the capacity for music to bring people together to form new friendships and connections and right now I couldn’t feel more connected to my amazing fans in the UK who made this happen.

When I started collaborating with some of my favourite artists at the start of the pandemic, I couldn’t have dreamt in my wildest dreams it would lead to a number one album. I am so proud of what we have created and thrilled that it has connected with our fans to such a degree. It shows the spirit of collaboration and togetherness that can still happen in the most trying circumstances.

Thank you to everyone who helped bring this album to life - I love you all ❤[8]

Singles[edit]

The lead single, "Cold Heart (Pnau remix)" with Dua Lipa, combines elements of John's 1989 song "Sacrifice", his 1972 single "Rocket Man", his 1976 album track "Where's the Shoorah?" and his 1983 single "Kiss the Bride", and was released on 13 August 2021. On 15 October 2021, the single peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. This was John’s first UK number one in 16 years, since 2005's posthumous Tupac Shakur collaboration "Ghetto Gospel".[9]

The album's official second single, "After All", is a collaboration with American singer Charlie Puth. It was released on 22 September 2021.[10][11][12]

The album's official third single, "Finish Line", is a collaboration with American singer Stevie Wonder. It was released on 30 September 2021.[13][14] "Finish Line" failed to chart on the Official UK Top 100, but debuted at number 73 on the Official UK Singles Sales Chart Top 100 on 28 January 2022[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?6.8/10
Metacritic70/100[16]
Review scores
SourceRating
The Independent[17]
Mojo[18]
NME[19]
The Observer[20]
PopMatters8/10[21]
Rolling Stone[22]
Uncut6/10[23]

The Lockdown Sessions received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has an average score of 70 based on ten reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 6.8 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus. Gary Ryan from NME gave it four out of five stars, saying: "All in all, The Lockdown Sessions' all-bets-off stylistic game of spin-the-bottle feels attuned to 2021's post-genre Spotify world, as Elton continues to further his musical universe".[19]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album was released on 22 October 2021, and in the OCC's UK midweek chart update on 25 October, the album was described as being in a "four way battle" with Duran Duran, Lana Del Rey and Biffy Clyro for the number-one position.[24] It later became John's eighth number-one album in the UK on 29 October 2021, his first number-one album since 2012's Good Morning to the Night.[25]

The Lockdown Sessions achieved 31,000 chart sales in the UK, 84% of which were physical (CD and vinyl) sales in the first week. It was John's second number one in the UK in less than a month – "Cold Heart (Pnau remix)" with Dua Lipa reached number one on the UK Singles Chart earlier in the month.[26] In the United States, the album debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 29,000 album-equivalent units, 17,000 of that sum were pure album copies, it went straight to number four on the U.S. Top Album Sales chart.[27][28]

Track listing[edit]

The Lockdown Sessions track listing[3]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Cold Heart (Pnau remix)" (with Dua Lipa)Pnau3:39
2."Always Love You" (with Young Thug and Nicki Minaj)4:17
3."Learn to Fly" (Surfaces featuring Elton John)
  • Frank
  • Padalecki
3:31
4."After All" (with Charlie Puth)
  • John
  • Puth
  • Jacob Kasher Hindlin
Puth3:28
5."Chosen Family" (with Rina Sawayama)Harle4:40
6."The Pink Phantom" (Gorillaz featuring Elton John and 6lack)
  • Gorillaz
  • Kabaka Jr.
4:13
7."It's a Sin" (with Years & Years)4:44
8."Nothing Else Matters" (Miley Cyrus featuring Watt, Elton John, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Trujillo and Chad Smith)Watt6:35
9."Orbit" (with SG Lewis)SG Lewis3:28
10."Simple Things" (with Brandi Carlile)
  • John
  • Wotman
  • Roman Campolo
Watt4:11
11."Beauty in the Bones" (with Jimmie Allen)
  • Bird
  • Roberts
3:50
12."One of Me" (Lil Nas X featuring Elton John)
  • Cunningham
  • Sheff
2:41
13."E-Ticket" (with Eddie Vedder)
  • John
  • Vedder
  • Wotman
Watt3:18
14."Finish Line" (with Stevie Wonder)
  • John
  • Wotman
  • Tamposi
  • Campolo
Watt4:24
15."Stolen Car" (with Stevie Nicks)
  • John
  • Wotman
  • Tamposi
Watt5:37
16."I'm Not Gonna Miss You" (with Glen Campbell)Raymond2:56
Total length:65:32
Japanese version bonus track[29]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
17."Cold Heart" (PS1 remix)(with Dua Lipa)
  • John
  • Taupin
  • Mayes
  • N. Littlemore
  • S. Littlemore
  • Mayes
  • N. Littlemore
  • S. Littlemore
2:47
Total length:68:19
Christmas edition track listing[30]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Merry Christmas" (with Ed Sheeran)
Mac3:28
The Lockdown Sessions (reissue) track listing[31]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Hold Me Closer" (with Britney Spears)
3:22
2."Cold Heart (Pnau remix)" (with Dua Lipa)
  • John
  • Taupin
  • Peter Mayes
  • Nick Littlemore
  • Nicholas Littlemore
  • Sam Littlemore
Pnau3:39
3."Always Love You" (with Young Thug and Nicki Minaj)
  • John
  • Andrew Wotman
  • Ali Tamposi
  • Louis Bell
  • Jeffery Lamar Williams
  • Billy Walsh
  • Onika Maraj
  • Watt
  • Bell
4:17
4."Learn to Fly" (Surfaces featuring Elton John)
  • Forrest Frank
  • Colin Padalecki
  • Frank
  • Padalecki
3:31
5."After All" (with Charlie Puth)
  • John
  • Puth
  • Jacob Kasher Hindlin
Puth3:28
6."Chosen Family" (with Rina Sawayama)
  • Sawayama
  • Jonny Lattimer
  • Danny L Harle
Harle4:40
7."The Pink Phantom" (Gorillaz featuring Elton John and 6lack)
  • Damon Albarn
  • Remi Kabaka Jr.
  • Ricardo Valdez Valentine Jr.
  • Gorillaz
  • Kabaka Jr.
4:13
8."It's a Sin" (with Years & Years)
  • Neil Tennant
  • Chris Lowe
  • Stuart Price
  • Pet Shop Boys
4:44
9."Nothing Else Matters" (Miley Cyrus featuring Watt, Elton John, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Trujillo and Chad Smith)
  • James Hetfield
  • Lars Ulrich
Watt6:35
10."Orbit" (with SG Lewis)
  • John
  • Samuel George Lewis
  • Sophie Frances Cooke
SG Lewis3:28
11."Simple Things" (with Brandi Carlile)
  • John
  • Wotman
  • Roman Campolo
Watt4:11
12."Beauty in the Bones" (with Jimmie Allen)
  • Allen
  • Taylor Bird
  • Phil Bentley
  • Bruce Roberts
  • Bird
  • Roberts
3:50
13."One of Me" (Lil Nas X featuring Elton John)
  • Montero Hill
  • John Cunningham
  • Jasper Sheff
  • Ilsey Juber
  • Cunningham
  • Sheff
2:41
14."E-Ticket" (with Eddie Vedder)
  • John
  • Vedder
  • Wotman
Watt3:18
15."Finish Line" (with Stevie Wonder)
  • John
  • Wotman
  • Tamposi
  • Campolo
Watt4:24
16."Stolen Car" (with Stevie Nicks)
  • John
  • Wotman
  • Tamposi
Watt5:37
17."I'm Not Gonna Miss You" (with Glen Campbell)
  • Campbell
  • Julian Raymond
Raymond2:56
18."Merry Christmas" (with Ed Sheeran)
  • John
  • Sheeran
  • Steve Mac
Mac3:28
Total length:72:22

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Poland (ZPAV)[63] Platinum 20,000double-dagger
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[64] Gold 10,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[65] Gold 100,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for The Lockdown Sessions
Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various 22 October 2021 Vinyl [66][67][68]
Japan CD Universal Music Japan [69]
Brazil 3 December 2021 CD Universal Music Brasil [70]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b c d Daw, Stephen (1 September 2021). "Elton John Teams Up With Lil Nas X, Dua Lipa & More for New Collaborations Album". Billboard. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
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  67. ^ Physical releases for The Lockdown Sessions:
  68. ^ "The Lockdown Sessions Vinyl". Elton John. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  69. ^ "The Lockdown Sessions [SHM-CD][Japan Bonus Track]" (in Japanese). CD Japan. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
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External links[edit]