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Elton John, Bernie Taupin launch contest to crowd-source videos for three iconic hits

Elton John, Bernie Taupin launch contest to crowd-source videos for three iconic hits
Veteran rock star Elton John, shown during a Los Angeles performance in January, is asking fans to create videos for three of the biggest hits he wrote with longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Longtime musical collaborators Elton John and Bernie Taupin are launching a contest inviting fans to create official music videos for three of the duo's best known songs to help mark next year's 50th anniversary of their songwriting partnership.

Fans will be able to enter videos for "Rocket Man," "Tiny Dancer" and "Bennie and the Jets," three of John's biggest hits, and the songs' creators, in tandem with experts in the field, will determine which will be designated the official music video for each song.

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The winners will be premiered next summer on YouTube, and the video Internet service will award $10,000 to each of the three winning video creators.

The global competition is called "Elton John: The Cut," and launches today, Dec. 12. Entries will begin being accepted on Jan. 9, closing two weeks later on Jan. 23. The contest is open to anyone 17 and older.

For "Rocket Man," animated videos are being sought, with live action films being the requirement for "Tiny Dancer" and an emphasis on choreography for "Bennie and the Jets."

Music videos were never shot for those songs because they were released in the 1970s before MTV came along a decade later and made music videos de rigeuer for rock and pop songs released as singles.

"YouTube is a rich tapestry of creativity," John, 69, said in a statement, "and I can't wait to see how the breadth of talent from the dance, live-action and animation communities apply their vision to these cherished songs."

In the same statement, YouTube's Global Head Artist Content & Services Vivien Lewit said: "This is a dream project that puts iconic music from a legendary artist in the hands of new creative talent, to reinvent these classic hits."

Submitted videos will be narrowed to a short list by a group of three judges: filmmaker-musician Kurt Hugo Schneider, whose YouTube channel has nearly 8 million subscribers; PES, an Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker; and Parris Goebbel, the director and choreographer of Justin Bieber's "Sorry (PURPOSE: The Movement)" dance video that has logged more than 2 billion views on YouTube.

Another panel of judges, whose identities will be announced on Jan. 9, will then winnow the short list contenders down to determine the winning videos.

Final production on the winners will be handled by Pulse Films, the production studio that handled Beyonce's "Lemonade" music film.

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