Posted by John on February 7th, 2011
What is it that makes “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John such a timeless and mass appeal song? “Tiny Dancer” has risen to prominence once again by being the soundtrack of one of the most talked about commercials in this year’s Super Bowl XLV.
The song was the punch line of a Budweiser commercial where a mean cowboy walks threateningly into a bar. After getting served his Bud beer, the cowboy softens up and breaks into song. “Blue jean baby, L.A. lady…” The bar’s piano player joins in and soon everyone in the bar, and likely everyone viewing the commercial, is singing along to “Tiny Dancer”. It’s a 60 second spot. Most TV commercials, especially Super Bowl ads, are 30 seconds long so it gives the song time to establish.
It’s rather inexplainable why “Tiny Dancer”, of all songs, has become a song that so many people, from teens to baby boomers, can identify with and sing along with…loudly.
TV AND FILM EXPOSURE
Part of the reason “Tiny Dancer” is so popular is that it’s been exposed to new generations every few years. It was in TV’s WKRP In Cincinnati in the late 1970’s. It occupied a key position in the 2000 movie Almost Famous. That movie clip (below) has received millions of views on YouTube.
Tim McGraw covered “Tiny Dancer” on his 2002 album Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors. In fact, McGraw’s version reached number 49 on the Country chart! That same year McGraw and Elton John performed the song on the American Music Awards.
NEVER A HIT SINGLE
Amazingly, “Tiny Dancer” is not one of Elton John’s biggest hits. It only reached number 41 on the Billboard chart in 1972. It was not included on Elton John’s gigantic selling album Greatest Hits that, since 1974, has sold 17 million copies in the U.S. and 32 million worldwide. The song wasn’t even on Elton’s Greatest Hits Volume II from 1977! Re-issues of Volume II since 1986 on CD now include “Tiny Dancer”.
So “Tiny Dancer” has really taken off into a different category of song decades after it’s original release. Perhaps it’s the under-exposure (not being burned out) by radio and other media that has helped “Tiny Dancer” survive for so long.
For whatever reason, some classic songs survive to become familiar and loved by new listeners, new fans and new generations. Most songs simply wither away. Most classic songs remain locked in time, fading year by year, gaining no new exposure and no new fans. “Tiny Dancer”, much like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”, endures.
If anyone knew what makes “Tiny Dancer” a timeless song, we’d replicate it and duplicate it. Thankfully, we don’t know. It’s just one of those things. So drink another Budweiser, turn on Almost Famous and sing along. “Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band…”Share this: