50. Island Girl (1975)

One of Elton’s most joyous tunes, but the toe-curling lyrics (“Island girl, what you wanting with the white man’s world?”) are presumably why he retired this single from live shows in 1990.

49. Part-Time Love (1978)

Elton starts a six-year break from otherwise career-long songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. New lyricist Gary Osbourne doesn’t yet conjure the same magic.

48. Honky Cat (1972)

Overshadowed byHonky Chateau’s bigger hit, Rocket Man, this brassier single finds Elton in playful mood: “Time to drink whisky!”

47. Come Back Baby (with Bluesology) (1965)

Recorded when Sir Elton Hercules John was still Pinner, Middlesex teenager Reg Dwight, a classically trained pub pianist and occasional session musician. A fine early career effort from his youthful rhythm and blues outfit.

46. The Ballad of Blind Tom (2013)

From late period, minimalist gem The Diving Board, EJ evokes the poetry and spiralling piano runs of his early years with this lovely insight into the mind of a blind Deep South bluesman.

45. Please (1995)

A touching song from Made in England, which finds Elton in the role of elder statesman with nothing to prove except his capacity for love, and pleading “let me grow old with you”.

44. When Love Is Dying (with Leon Russell) (2010)

Elton’s first ever US performance was supporting the late Leon Russell, who shared vocal tips and decades later, joined Elton for the album The Union. This is a beautiful song about a fading love.

43. Believe (1995)

With the crazy outfits, barmy glasses and wheelbarrows of cocaine of the 70s far behind him, the post-throat op Elton uses his deeper range and older man’s gravitas to maximum effect.

42. Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future) (1975)

Three years after Rocket Man, space travel again provides inspiration via 1950s comic character Dan Dare. The song was one of the first to use the talkbox, a wacky effects-pedal.

Elton John live at Nippon Budokan, February 1st, 1974, Tokyo, Japan. Photograph: Shinko Music/Getty Images

41. Blue Eyes (1982)

A mid-career, Grammy-nominated gem, laden with dollops of trademark melancholy (“Blue eyes … holding back the tears, holding back the pain.”)

40. Grey Seal (1973)

This lesser-known cut from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road showcases similar piano skills to those Elton brought to his version of the Who’s Pinball Wizard in the film Tommy. A vintage 70s Dr Marten’s-stomping ballad.

39. All the Young Girls Love Alice (1973)

According to some liner notes, this driving rocker from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was penned about Alice Cooper before being hurriedly rewritten to be about a tragic lesbian schoolgirl sex worker. Righty-o.

38. Circle of Life (1994)

A trademark big ballad from the animated Disney film, The Lion King, with lyrics by Tim Rice, who recalls how Elton produced a “stunning demo” from the written words in just 90 minutes. A true pro.

37. Little Jeanie (1980)

After the disastrously-received disco experiment of 1979’s Victim of Love, new songwriting partner Gary Osbourne helps Elton relocate his soft-rock mojo and return to the US top five. Elton celebrates with a free concert in Central Park, dressed as Donald Duck. Obviously.

36. Nikita (1985)

One of Elton’s richest vocals, this trans-Atlantic hit tells of a doomed love for an eastern European border guard. The synthesizer solo is as dated as shoulder pads, mind.