Speaking at the United Nations on September 19, 2017, American president Donald Trump excoriated North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, referring to him as "Rocket Man" because of his missile program. "Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself," Trump declared. This song immediately began trending.
This wasn't the first time the phrase was used in this context: The Economist
put Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, on the cover
of their July 8, 2006 issue with the headline "Rocket Man."
Trump is a fan of the song, and often played it at his campaign rallies. However, Bernie Taupin disapproved of the president's usage of the title. "The context bothered me," he told the Wall Street Journal
. "The thought that World War III could start over the use of my song title was disturbing. I also was uncomfortable that something of mine that was culturally iconic could be used in such a way."
"But what could I do? Sue him for cultural appropriation?" Taupin continued. "As a songwriter, you're powerless to stop something like that. However, if the use of 'Rocket Man' results in peace, I will be very happy to take full credit for it."