Sir Elton John has derided reality TV as “boring” and modern songwriters as “pretty awful”.

The singing legend, 63, said that talent shows such as the X Factor are “arse-paralysingly brain crippling” and that he would not be a judge on one.

Speaking to Radio Times, he said he “couldn’t do” American Idol because “I won’t slag anyone off”.

He said: “I’m not a fan of talent shows. I probably wouldn’t have lasted if I’d gone on one. I like Simon Cowell, but what he does is TV entertainment. I was asked to judge American Idol. I couldn’t do it because I won’t slag anyone off. Also, I don’t want to be on television. It’s become boring, arse-paralysingly brain crippling.”

He added: “There have been some good acts, but the only way to sustain a career is to pay your dues in small, s**t clubs. TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up, which is hard.”

Sir Elton, who has sold more than 250 million records, also hit out at songwriters, saying that today’s pop stars should write their own material.

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.

“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.”