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Nikita (song)

Nikita (song)

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Encyclopedia
"Nikita" is a song by English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 singer Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

 about the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 from his 1985 album Ice on Fire
Ice on Fire
Ice on Fire is the nineteenth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, recorded at Sol Studios and released in 1985. It was the first album since Blue Moves produced by John's original longtime producer, Gus Dudgeon. But it was met with little praise, and only reached number 48 on the...

. Released in late 1985, the song achieved success in many countries, becoming a top ten hit in almost all of them.

Song synopsis


In the song, Elton John describes his crush on a beautiful GDR borderguard whom he cannot meet because he is not allowed into the country. It features George Michael
George Michael
George Michael is a British musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! with his school friend, Andrew Ridgeley...

 on backing vocals, and is notable for a distinctive synthesiser solo. The song charted at #3 on the UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

 and also made the top 10 in the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, charting at #7.

Video settings and song information


The video for the song "Nikita", directed by Ken Russell
Ken Russell
Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell was an English film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. He attracted criticism as being obsessed with sexuality and the church...

, featured Anya Major
Anya Major
Anya Major is an athlete and actress who starred in Apple Computer's famous "1984" commercial, and who appeared as Nikita in the video to Elton John's song of the same name....

 in the role of Nikita and a cameo appearance by Justin Lewis
Justin Lewis
Justin Lewis is Professor of Communication and Head of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. He returned to Britain in 2000, having worked for 12 years in the United States at the University of Massachusetts....

. Russell says he didn't realise that Nikita was a man's name in the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 (e.g. Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

) and Elton John accepted the proposed script written by Russell which was a male-female love interpretation of the song, as indeed the depicted GDR border guard in the video is a beautiful blonde woman with short hair. Scenes showing the two together in various happy situations, including wearing Watford FC colours, were based in fantasy, and many were expecting a follow-up after the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in which they would free to be together, but it never materialised. In interviews John, who is openly gay, admitted that Nikita was a male name in Russian.

Track listings


7" single
  1. "Nikita" — 4:54
  2. "The Man Who Never Died" — 5:10
or "Restless" — 4:26
or "I'm Still Standing" — 3:03
or "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" — 6:12


12" maxi
  1. "Nikita" (extended version) — 5:43
  2. "The Man Who Never Died" — 5:10
  3. "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" (live) — 3:26
  4. "I'm Still Standing (live) — 4:38

Personnel

  • Elton John
    Elton John
    Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

     – GS piano, vocal, synth, backing vocals
  • Dave Mattacks
    Dave Mattacks
    Dave Mattacks is a rock and folk drummer. Best known for his work with Fairport Convention, Mattacks has also worked both as a session musician, and as a performance artist...

     – drums
  • David Paton
    David Paton
    David Paton is a Scottish bass and guitar player, most notably with three different bands: Pilot, The Alan Parsons Project, and Camel. He has also worked as a solo artist, session musician, and sometime vocalist...

     – bass
  • Nik Kershaw
    Nik Kershaw
    Nik Kershaw is an English singer-songwriter. The one time jazz-funk guitarist was a mid-1980s teen idol. His 50 weeks on the UK Singles Chart in 1984 beat all other soloists...

     – electric guitar
  • George Michael
    George Michael
    George Michael is a British musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! with his school friend, Andrew Ridgeley...

     – backing vocals
  • Fred Mandel
    Fred Mandel
    Fred Mandel is a keyboard player and guitarist.Mandel became involved in music from an early age. He started playing the piano and age 4 and picked up the guitar aged 8...

     – synthesizers
  • Davey Johnstone
    Davey Johnstone
    Davey Johnstone , is a Scottish rock guitarist and vocalist, best known for his work with Elton John.-Career:...

    – backing vocals

Peak positions

Chart (1985/86) Peak
position
Austrian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Top 40 1
French SNEP Singles Chart 6
Eurochart Hot 100 1
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 7
Swiss Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 7
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 3


Year-end charts

Chart (1985) Position
Dutch Top 40 68
Chart (1986) Position
Dutch Top 40 15

Certifications

Country Certification Date Sales certified
France Silver 1986 200,000
UK Silver 1 November 1985 200,000