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Music / Too Low for Zero

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Tied one on with a friend last night
And wound up losing my shirt
You could never know what it's like
Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
And there's a cold lonely light that shines from you
You'll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use

And did you think this fool could never win?
Well look at me, I'm a-coming back again
I got a taste of love in a simple way
And if you need to know while I'm still standing, you just fade away
"I'm Still Standing"

Too Low for Zero (stylized as 2 ▼ 4 0) is the seventeenth studio album recorded by English pop rock musician Elton John. It was released through Rocket Records in the United Kingdom, and Geffen Records in the United States, on 30 May 1983.

Elton was in an extended slump in his career. For his previous four albums, he'd scored only two Silver records from the BPI and two Gold records from the RIAA between them; and only one song, "Little Jeannie" from 21 at 33, has endured from that span. He decided to cut out the secondary writers and work on this album entirely with his long-time writing partner Bernie Taupin, going back to the basics.

It was a decent effort, though contemporary critics were skeptical. Don Shewey of Rolling Stone rated the album 3 out of 5 stars, criticizing a lack of consistency in the output, but also noting the high energy of its singles. In hindsight, AllMusic would rate the album 4.5 out of 5 stars, showing the album would stand the test of time; AllMusic reviewer Bill Janovitz has said as much specifically about "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues", which remains one of Elton's most popular singles.


Commercially, it gave Elton's career the boost it needed to catch him back up to The '80s. It went Platinum in both the United States (first since 1978) and the United Kingdom (first since 1973). It was his first album to hit the Top Ten on the UK album chart since A Single Man in 1978.

The album produced five singles: "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues", "I'm Still Standing", "Kiss the Bride", "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)", and the Title Track. The first two were Top Ten hits on the UK pop chart, and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" would be Elton's first Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1980.



Side One
  1. "Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)" (4:19)
  2. "I'm Still Standing" (3:02)
  3. "Too Low for Zero" (5:46)
  4. "Religion" (4:05)
  5. "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (4:41)

Side Two

  1. "Crystal" (5:05)
  2. "Kiss the Bride" (4:22)
  3. "Whipping Boy" (3:43)
  4. "Saint" (5:17)
  5. "One More Arrow" (3:34)

"And I guess that's why they call these the tropes:"

  • Music Video: One of the reasons Elton was introduced to The '80s is because this album's music videos got big on MTV:
    • "I'm Still Standing" had a very memorable music video of Elton galavanting on the beach. It would later inspire both Phil Collins and David Lee Roth.
    • "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" has a music video where a 50s-era couple are separated when the man is drafted, and it shows their separate trials prior to their eventual reunion.
  • On the Rebound: "I'm Still Standing" is about the singer's recovery from the end of a bad relationship
  • Rock Bottom: The Title Track describes the singer's descent toward this
  • Special Guest: Stevie Wonder plays the harmonica on "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"
  • Title Track: "Too Low for Zero"