Elton John has criticised reality TV contests as ‘a**e-paralysingly boring’ and says today’s songwriters are ‘pretty awful’.

The 63-year-old also said he turned down the opportunity to be a judge on American Idol.

He told the Radio Times that he admired contemporary stars such as Lily Allen, who he traded insults with at an awards ceremony two years ago, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga.

But he said: “It’s important they write their own songs, so they’re not at the mercy of anyone. Songwriters today are pretty awful, which is why everything sounds the same. Contemporary pop isn’t very inspiring.”

The Rocket Man added: “I’m not a fan of talent shows. I probably wouldn’t have lasted if I’d gone on one. I was asked to judge American Idol.”

Sir Elton, who famously attacked Madonna for lip-synching on stage, said he ‘couldn’t do’ American Idol, which featured Simon Cowell as a judge before he quit to launch a US version of The X Factor, ‘because I won’t slag anyone off’.

“Also I don’t want to be on television,” he said. “It’s become boring, a**e-paralysingly brain crippling. I like Simon Cowell, but what he does is TV entertainment.

“TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up, which is hard. (X Factor winners) Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke are at the mercy of the next song they can get.

“Susan Boyle was an endearing phenomenon, but I fear she might not understand the rigours of showbusiness.”