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Songwriters today "pretty awful," says Elton John

LONDON (Reuters) – British singer Elton John described today's songwriters as "pretty awful," pop music as uninspiring and talent shows like "American Idol" as boring in an interview published on Tuesday.

The 63-year-old singer of "Your Song" and "Candle in the Wind," one of the most successful pop artists of all time, added that the instant fame which talent shows can bring was not the way to become a genuine star.

"It's important they (pop stars) write their own songs, so they're not at the mercy of anyone," John, whose real name is Reginald Dwight, told Britain's Radio Times magazine.

"Songwriters today are pretty awful, which is why everything sounds the same. Contemporary pop isn't very inspiring."

He said he was a fan of young female pop acts Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga, before adding:

"I'm not a fan of talent shows. I probably wouldn't have lasted if I'd gone on one. I was asked to judge 'American Idol'. I couldn't do it because I won't slag anyone off.

"Also I don't want to be on television. It's become boring, arse-paralysingly brain crippling."

He said "X Factor" judge and music producer Simon Cowell had discovered some talented acts through his TV shows, "but the only way to sustain a career is to pay your dues in small ... clubs.

"I was in a band at 17, became a songwriter with Bernie Taupin and wasn't successful until we'd had six years of hard graft and disappointment, as well as great times.

"TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up, which is hard. (British 'X Factor' winners) Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke are at the mercy of the next song they can get.

"('Britain's Got Talent' runner-up) Susan Boyle was an endearing phenomenon, but I fear she might not understand the rigors of showbusiness."

John is releasing a new album this week, "The Union," a collaboration with his musical hero Leon Russell, and plays the BBC Electric Proms in London on October 28.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison)

Katy Perry, Akon to share runway with VS models

NEW YORK – Katy Perry, Akon and model Adriana Lima in a $2 million fantasy bra are among the highlights planned for this year's Victoria's Secret fashion show.

Other models expected on the runway include Alessandra Ambrosio, Rosie-Huntington Whiteley, Chanel Iman and Candice Swanepoel. Missing from the lineup is Heidi Klum, who recently parted with the brand.

The lingerie show has become a holiday tradition of sorts, with many of the catwalkers outfitted in elaborate, fanciful wings — and very little else — parading in front of elaborate sets.

The fantasy bra has become a signature, too: This one created by jeweler Damiani features diamonds, sapphires and topaz.

The show will be taped Nov. 10 to be televised in an hour-long special on CBS on Nov. 30.


Perry climbs 'Beautiful Tree' to new heights

LOS ANGELES – For Rain Perry, it's a case of exposure unexpected.

On a good night, most indie-folk artists play for an audience of a couple of hundred in clubs or coffeehouses. But millions of viewers have heard Perry's song "Beautiful Tree" under the main-title sequence for the CW drama "Life Unexpected," which launched in January and returned last month for its second season.

"It's a little bit surreal in the sense that I know that people have seen it, but I'm still driving my kid to school in the morning," Perry said, with a laugh. "I'm not Gaga."

"But in terms of people finding me online and saying, 'Hi,' and saying they heard the song or that they liked the song or that it reminds them of their families, that's expanded exponentially."

"Life Unexpected" spins around an emancipated minor who, after a life in foster care, reconnects with her birth parents. "Beautiful Tree" celebrates the endless variations of family: "Bent or broken, it's a family tree," goes the lyric.

The Ojai, Calif.-based Perry, 43, knows what she sings, as the Hollywood-born child of actors. After her parents split, she spent time in what she called a religious "cult" with her mother, who died when Perry was just seven, then went to live with her recently deceased father, whom Perry dubbed a "hippie."

"(The song) is about coming to terms with the counterculture, for one thing — which,you could imagine, since my name is Rain — and coming to terms with your family, whoever they might be."

"Beautiful Tree" is actually from Perry's last album, 2008's "Cinderblock Bookshelves," inspired by her childhood. Her new CD, "Internal Combustion," was released last month and forges into adulthood, including a sultry, stripped-down reworking of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On."

"It was great to do an album that wasn't about my dad," Perry noted. "It deals with lust and obsession and grief and art and growing up. It's a grown-up record."

Perry's not expecting a stampede of "Unexpected" viewers to buy it.

"I have no illusions," she explained. "I'm a indie-folk artist and this is a really fun little blip that happened. I am very grateful for it. I am just taking it for what it is and we will see what happens next."