Story and Meaning Behind the Song Lyrics: “Cold Heart,” Elton John and Dua Lipa

Elton John has more hit singles than most artists would ever dream of obtaining. After his record debut in 1969 with Empty Sky, John cranked out hit after hit with his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. Fast-forward to 2020 and 2021 when the pandemic shut down the world, and you’ll see where John kept at his craft. And this time, he produced a truly epic array of collaborations titled The Lockdown Sessions, one of which is the mega-hit single “Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)” featuring Dua Lipa.

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What do the lyrics mean?

“Cold Heart” pays homage to John’s career by expertly blending together four of John’s previously released singles: “Rocket Man” originally released in 1972, “Sacrifice” (1989), “Kiss the Bride” (1983), and “Where’s the Shoorah?” (1976).

Lipa, a more recent pop sensation, comes in to sing the “Rocket Man” chorus. And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time / ‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find / I’m not the man they think I am at home / Oh no, no, no, she sings. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Lipa gushed about her role on the track. “‘Rocket Man’ is my driving song, it’s my shower song, it’s my song I sing along to myself…When I got asked to sing that part, I was like, ‘OK, it was just meant to be,’” she said.

Altogether, though, “Cold Heart” outlines a relationship that has taken a turn for the worse. For reasons not specifically mentioned, the singer’s heart has been hardened by another.

Where does PNAU fit into all of this?

PNAU (also stylized Pnau) is a dance music trio from Australia. Nick Littlemore (vocals, production), Peter Mayes (guitar, production), and Sam Littlemore (production) were pursuing their music career when John took them under his wing. The group then came on board to produce John’s single “Cold Heart” to have an irresistible sound.

“We’ve been working with Elton for about 15 years now. He first discovered us in Australia around 2007, and we even moved to London and then took up with his management company at the time,” Mayes told Billboard.

“We did an album with Elton that came out in 2012 [Elton John vs Pnau ‘Good Morning to the Night’] and it went No. 1 in the U.K., which was a great moment for us. Then Elton was like, ‘Do you wanna do some more?’ and we [still] had a lot of his vocals that we hadn’t really touched upon. And a lot of the vocal tracks we had were huge iconic Elton John hits, and we’d sort of stayed away from them on the previous album intentionally, as we wanted to unearth a lot of lesser-known Elton records and vocals then,” he said.

Littlemore also chimed in saying, “Weaving the vocals together, making both the melodies and lyrics gel as one was the most challenging part of making ‘Cold Heart.’… Often, I leave the song on loop, walk out of the room, and when I come back in, I instantly know if it’s ‘right’ if that emotion is driving the music deep into me…. it’s always keeping the emotions ripe; that’s the intention.”

The massive success of “Cold Heart” is sure to be a part of John’s legacy.

“Cold Heart” is John’s first UK number-one single since “Ghetto Gospel”—a Tupac song John was featured on—topped the charts after its release in 2005. The 2021 release is also Lipa’s third number-one single. In addition to the various other notable records that “Cold Heart” made, people simply love the song. “Cold Heart” has over 700 million streams on Spotify alone and continues to grow in popularity.

Cold, cold heart
Hardened by you (oh)
Some things lookin’ better, baby
Just passin’ through (no, no, no, no, no)

Listen to the full song, sung by Elton John and Dua Lipa, below.

Dua Lipa photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Elton John photo by Greg Gorman

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