Is Elton John a musical genius (or rip-off artist in disguise)?

Anyone who loves Elton John will watch this video and marvel at his musical talent.

In this appearance on James Lipton’s Inside The Actors Studio, Sir Elton John wows the audience and creates a tune on the spot. An audience member volunteers his book “Peer Gynt” (a 5-act Norwegian play) and Elton creates a tune on the fly:

Sure. Reginald Kenneth Dwight is a musical talent. No doubt.

But musical genius?

They say Elton John has written lots of complex and original chord progressions throughout his long career. True.

He clearly knows his key signatures, scales and modes inside out.

And Elton John has mastered the classical training basics. He gets scales and progressions at a very high level.

But the truth is Elton John seems talented because he knows how to use song-writing formulas that have wowed us since the beginning of time…

Specifically, he borrows a well-tested, 4-chord progression (C G Am F) to pump out the hits.

Watch this:

So is Elton John a musical genius or a mere mortal who borrows proven musical formulas?