Elton John set tongues wagging last month when he criticized Madonna for lip-synching at her concerts. Now, reports Soundbuzz, he has apologized--more or less. On a New Zealand TV show last week, John called Madonna "a major artist of the video age," adding, "I do regret hurting her feelings, because she's a major artist. Madonna is a great artist. I hate to hurt her. I don't like slagging people off." He added, "She's not the same kind of artist as U2 or Bruce Springsteen or Prince or Sting or someone like that." John put his original catty comments down to his own personal prejudice against lip-synching. "I have a bee in my bonnet about live shows." Besides, he said, "it was in the context of a very rowdy lunch. Sometimes when you say something and then it's written down on paper, it looks totally different." No word yet on Elton's opinions about Ashlee Simpson.