Elvis Costello is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer. He began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement of the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album, My Aim Is True, was recorded in 1977. Shortly after recording it he formed the Attractions as his backing band. His second album, This Year’s Model, was released in 1978, and was ranked number 11 by Rolling Stone on its list of the best albums from 1967–1987. His third album, Armed Forces, was released in 1979, and features his most successful single “Oliver’s Army”. His first three albums all appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Costello and the Attractions toured and recorded together for the better part of a decade, though differences between them caused a split by 1986. Much of Costello’s work since has been as a solo artist, though reunions with members of the Attractions have been credited to the group over the years. Steeped in wordplay, the vocabulary of Costello’s lyrics is broad. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a “pop encyclopaedia”, able to “reinvent the past in his own image”.
He has won multiple awards in his career, including a Grammy Award, and has twice been nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Singer. In 2003, Costello and the Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Costello number 80 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Costello has also co-written several original songs for motion pictures, including “God Give Me Strength” from Grace of My Heart (1996, with Burt Bacharach) and “The Scarlet Tide” from Cold Mountain (2003, with T-Bone Burnett). For the latter, Costello was nominated (along with Burnett) for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.