A sequel to “Piano Man,” once the protagonist is out of the crummy bar and has a couple of albums under his belt. 12. Sounds like it was cut from River of Dreams. Seems out of proportion to the problem. Armie Hammer Says He’s ‘Genuinely Sorry’ For Calling Woman ‘Miss Cayman’ in Vid, The Miss Cayman Universe Committee released a statement saying that the Committee was “very disturbed by the video.”. 79. Not terrible, but loses a lot of points for the awkward “no one ever has to feel like a refugee,” and the weird rolled-R delivery of “Mexican rrreefers.”, 83. Deserves to be revisited. The Nylon Curtain. At last – the perfect way to hear Schubert, The musicians and celebrities who stood by Donald Trump, ‘I'd love to own the Beatles’: meet the man spending millions buying up your favourite songs. “52nd Street,” 52nd Street Sounds like one of the Ray Charles duets without Ray. The false ending is a little cheap. I just don’t hear it — I think it’s pretty but not great. “Baby Grand,” The Bridge The big Ray Charles duet, a bookend to “Piano Man.” A great, heartfelt performance from both of them, but the song itself is a weird extended metaphor that doesn’t entirely come off (the only one who sticks by you is your piano … or whatever it is your piano represents). Has aged better than you’d think. New York State Of Mind was influenced by his time working with Ray Charles, who he’d duetted with on the song “Baby Grand”. “Weekend Song,” Streetlife SerenadeAnother one with echoes of Elton John. His Lawn Guyland worldview comes from an honest place, and when he writes about, say, Anthony (who works in a grocery store, saving his pennies for someday), that guy rings true. Tristan the Slightly Rakish has come to Darrowby. Billy Joel’s first record, Cold Spring Harbor, was released through Family Production before his second discovery by Columbia Records. “Stop in Nevada,” Piano ManWhy is a guy from Long Island writing a fake-Western song? It does have about the purest, cleanest production he ever had. “Until the Night,” 52nd StreetA precursor to An Innocent Man’s doo-wop songs, reaching for Elvis territory. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. Billy Joel spent the first 22 years of his career making pop albums, and the last 20 years performing that music all over the world. “Half a Mile Away,” 52nd StreetAs tight a commercial-radio song as ever recorded. Literally forgettable. 31. It’s been 21 years since Joel released a new pop album, yet he sold out the arena 12 times in 2014 alone, and he’ll play his second (also sold-out) show of 2015 on February 18. 89. But it’s a vivid, thoughtful song about guys he clearly knew well. Not the most ambitious song; simple structure, simple lyrics, and there’s nothing bad about it. “I’ve Loved These Days,” TurnstilesOne of the better songs on this album, and I’m surprised it hasn’t become more of a standard. Tomorrow Is Today (#58) It also has picked up an unfortunate association of late (Stormfront, to which we will not be linking here, is the premier white-supremacist site on the internet). Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992. A century from now, if you want a wry but ultimately affectionate look at Long Island middle-class life circa 1976, you could do a lot worse than Brenda (sorry, Brender) and Eddie, their paintings from Sears, and the Parkway Diner. She's Got a Way (#26) 2. “A Room of Our Own,” The Nylon CurtainThe staple standup-comic territory of “Hey, men and women are different, you know?” in convenient pop-song form. Every Billy Joel Album Ranked Worst To Best. Billy Joel Greatest Hits Full Album 2020 - The Very Best of Billy Joel 66. “Scandinavian Skies,” The Nylon Curtain A junkie song by a non-junkie: As far as I know, a unique idea. 51. Why didn’t I put it dead last? "Just the Way You Are" was a breakthrough hit single for Billy Joel. With the melody sampled many times over in today’s pop culture, this performance version of the song just showcases how talented Billy Joel is. “Tomorrow Is Today,” Cold Spring HarborTwo minutes into a rather quavery M.O.R. Sinatra could’ve recorded it; Tony Bennett did; many others will. 16. “Sometimes a Fantasy,” Glass HousesHe gets major points for trying to write a great phone sex song, but the result has a high ick factor, maybe because “make love long distance,” followed by pervy breathing, comes off gross rather than sexy. “Prelude/Angry Young Man,” Turnstiles That hammered-keyboard intro is one for the ages among show-offy high-school piano students, and the song itself is a slightly more settled guy’s look at his snotty younger self. I disagree. By the measure of hit-making, his stats are staggering. • The songs that rise to the top are, with a few exceptions, the purer ones. But “We were sold a bunch of nonsense” is a thoughtful lyric in this context. He still plays it in concert now and then, and has been known to introduce it as “kind of an obscure song”; it shouldn’t be. 82. “Leningrad,” Storm FrontYes, it’s kitsch — of course Russian people live ordinary lives too — and the music is gooey. Outrage can bring greatness to art; irritability, not so much. 85. They used to beat him up for his perceived lack of edge. A keeper. “Nocturne,” Cold Spring HarborQuasi-Chopin instrumental — though there are unrecorded lyrics — that absolutely refuses to stick in the mind. The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer Billy Joel, released in September 1977 by Columbia Records.It was the first of Joel's albums to be produced by Phil Ramone, with whom he would go on to work for all of his albums up until his 1986 album The Bridge.. Why musicians are falling back into addiction during lockdown. “Everybody Loves You Now,” Cold Spring HarborSuper-catchy, bouncy piano, sneery. 55. But play it in a room full of music snobs, and they know every. “She’s Got a Way,” Cold Spring Harbor Is it a little gooey? 33. 59. 53. “Code of Silence,” The BridgeCo-written and sung with Cyndi Lauper. You hear the first verse, and it’s pretty square but okay — and then he sings it again, in French, and you cringe. 35. Peaked at #3 on 12.11.1983. “Root Beer Rag,” Streetlife SerenadeYeah, it maybe sounded cool when your friend was banging it out on the music-room piano in the eighth grade, but put it next to the gnarly chords of some actual ragtime, and you quickly realize that a rag built mostly on a C-major triad is pretty weak sauce. I’ll admit that the brake screech in “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” is fun. Just The Way You Are. 117. Readers’ Poll: The Best Billy Joel Songs of All Time Selections include ‘Vienna,’ ‘Captain Jack’ and ‘Goodnight Saigon’ Billy Joel The Stranger (1977) Eliminated after the final : "Vienna" Eliminated after the final : "Vienna" 3: 3. The song was inspired by Billy Joel's first wife Elizabeth Weber. The arrangement could, admittedly, be a little crisper. This song literally fought for its freedom through its composure, vocals and lyrics. Peaked at #3 on 16.10.1993. But “Gotta have a hit / So they cut it down to 3:05” is clever, for sure. 99. The lead single from his fifth studio album The Stranger, it became his first pop top 10 hit peaking at #3. (He really hated L.A.) Much better in live later recordings, where the piano sounds cleaner, the violins are gone, and he sings it better. Also, arguably the best vocal recording he ever made: His voice is really supple, midway between his early quavery thing and his later baritone. Robert Christgau called his 1976 album Turnstiles “obnoxious,” which it is not. 118. “The River of Dreams,” River of Dreams The almost-title song of the album (why add a “The”?). “Getting Closer,” The Bridge Repetitive and plodding. 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A close listening to the Joel-ian canon reveals a couple of generous handfuls of greatness, forgotten cuts that deserve to be resurfaced, familiar hits that have aged poorly, and flat-out clunkers. “Blonde Over Blue,” River of DreamsNicely written first verse about being lonely at night, but it goes boring after that. 24. 105. 95. It went on to win Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Rated 4 points - posted 11 years ago by BradHemphill in category Music. 68. 13. Click on up and down arrows to affect item's ranking Add item. A charming if dated song. “Vienna,” The Stranger A pretty song, a long metaphor for finding yourself at a crossroads in life, with a nice lilt and a restrained bit of whimsy. “You May Be Right,” Glass HousesGood straight-up power pop song. Not bad at all. Peaked at #3 on 18.02.1978. Everybody Loves You Now (#32) 3. “Los Angelenos,” Streetlife Serenade He really didn’t like L.A. very much, did he? Is it very pretty? “The Entertainer,” Streetlife SerenadeThe Piano Man finds success! Pretty strong cut for one that few people remember. “Only the Good Die Young,” The Stranger None of that sour petulance here; it’s a song by a happy warrior in love and romance. Recording is wavery and soft, and I’d be curious to hear a cover version that perhaps brings out whatever the song has in it. 114. • Too many sound effects. “Nobody Knows But Me,” single, 1982A kids’ record, made for a CTW compilation album. The song was based on a line in the Sherman Brothers' song 'You're Sixteen', and was helped by its cutting edge (at the time) video, featuring cartoons mixed with live-action sequences. 26. Can I watch it if I don’t have TV? Impeccable. Yes, everyone was doing it in 1976, but that doesn’t make it right. 122: 122. 46. The line “they threw an American flag in our face” is a clunker, badly misaligned with the music. 60. An album ballad, not worth resurrecting. In no way, shape or form’, Simon Rattle to quit London Symphony Orchestra and head home to family in Germany. “My Life,” 52nd StreetChipper, maybe a little defensive, impeccably bouncy pop song with dark undercurrent. ‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe on the legacy of Pop Idol: ‘Did I create a monster? “All My Life,” 2007 single The coda to his singer-songwriter career. 27. 58. “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” Turnstiles Poorly recorded — the bass overwhelms it — and the studio cut sounds weak and wan, but underneath all that, there’s a well-wrought pop song in hiding. Would have been better shorter — loses steam as the title repeats. song, a bizarre vocal break — he drops an octave and throws in an R&B turn, then snaps back to the sensitive-guy voice — feels like it fell in from Mars. “All for Leyna,” Glass Houses A pretty intense, pretty good stalker song. 104. A Matter Of Trust (1986) All About Soul (1993) All For Leyna (1980) Allentown (1982) An Innocent Man (1984) And So It Goes (1989) Angry Young Man (1976) Baby Grand (1986) Across the 20 years of his solo career, Joel produced 33 Top 40 hits in the U.S., all of which he wrote himself, and three of which (“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”, “Tell Her About It”, and “We Didn’t Start the Fire”) managed to peak at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. “Easy Money,” An Innocent Man Unfortunately evokes nothing so much as Rappin’ Rodney. as my colleague Jody Rosen has persuasively written, “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),”, Behold Leslie Knope’s Awful Version of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’. “Careless Talk,” An Innocent ManAn album cut that doesn’t rise above, but it has nice bounce. And wait two years for the be-all-end-all live performance of this one, probably at Sun Life Stadium. I get mostly overreach here: straining for Steely Dan complexity, in several different directions — jazz, fusion, atmospheric-cinematic — without reaching greatness in any of them. 1. 54. Points for its complexity and opacity; points off for the blatant “I Am the Walrus” echo. First verse is the best. 3. But that whole “Hey, what about me? “Honesty,” 52nd Street Heart-on-sleeve vulnerability. And hates his record company, and writes about it. A song that exemplifies a recurring problem on this list: memorable hook paired with dull verses. 57. No focus.”, Three Dwayne Johnsons of Varying Sizes Star in First. The shattering sound that opens Glass Houses, the helicopters in “Goodnight Saigon,” TV static and dial tones: All are gimmicky, and most are cliché. “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),” Turnstiles That date sounded deep in the future back in 1976, didn’t it? 94. This one tells guys to risk rejection and be honest and vulnerable with their crushes, and even though you know it probably didn’t go well for some of those nerd-boy listeners, it’s a hard song to hate. Goes on forever, though. “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” The Stranger Only the goofy-awkward “heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack” keeps this one out of the top ten. Billy Joel. You gotta stop somewhere. Studio albums: 13: Live albums: 6: Compilation albums: 16: Video albums: 10: Music videos 10. “The Stranger,” The StrangerA little self-conscious, a little arty (that whistled intro). “Where’s the Orchestra?” The Nylon Curtain The performance on the album is a little low-energy, but it has interesting lyrics, with an unexpected callback to “Allentown” buried in the last verse. I’ll also give you that the piano performance is among his best. I’ve listed which Billy Joel album they first appeared on and, if different, the album containing my favorite rendition. 61. Surely that scene could’ve produced a song more interesting than this. 65. Lyrically slack. “A Minor Variation,” River of Dreams Somewhat similar to “All About Soul.” More white-guy blues, decently sung, but ultimately, there are so many better blues singers that it’s hard to get excited about this one. The unintentionally hilarious video may be affecting my judgment a little here. “Keeping the Faith,” An Innocent Man A friendly, bright song about his teenhood. What would Mama Leone say? “James,” Turnstiles Admittedly a little watery, but in the end, it’s a small, personal song about a mysterious broken friendship. Has more of that Innocent Man lightness and exuberance than most of the stuff on his later records, and benefits from it. But it holds its place on the album — barely. Cold Spring Harbour ... and upon its release the whole thing was far from what Joel had intended. 10. 30. *An earlier version of this post said Billy Joel was performing at Madison Square Garden tonight. 2. So much is wrong here: boomer-generation narcissism, the tri-state-area-news myopia (“hypodermics on the shore”? 93. But the ranking draws on 30 years of soaking in these songs, plus multiple repeat playings of every one over the past three months. But stare down the rest of the lyrics: They’re plainspoken and pretty okay. “Big Man on Mulberry Street,” The Bridge Is he a GoodFella, a restaurateur, just some shmo? Very typical big-’80s sound, with synths and echo that haven’t aged well. “Iron and coke / Chromium steel” is vivid, the change from “we’re living here” to “I’m living here” is thoughtful, and the last line of the verse (“I won’t be getting up today”) takes you out with a strong image. Kind of a shrug, in the end, but a pretty one. “I Don’t Want to Be Alone,” Glass Houses How’d everyone miss this? (Benefits by comparison with Sting’s “Russians,” a similar, cheesier record.) **An incorrect reference to the sax solo in this song has been removed. 49. 103. “Dad rock,” one of my younger colleagues said, unimpressed, when I told her about this project: relistening to the 121 songs that Joel has written and recorded, and ranking every one. Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) “Got to Begin Again,” Cold Spring Harbor Another small but nicely wrought song that someone should dig up and rerecord. You can also knock ten points off for that uncomfortable “sit at home and masturbate” line, which has been filling arenas with uneasy giggles for 35 years, especially when “pick your nose” comes along a few lines later. 23. Cynthia wrestles with whether or not to invite her father to her pandemic wedding, while Kandi gets the girls together for a good cause. Hard not to get swept up, even if it’s kinda bombastic on the album. “Goodnight Saigon,” The Nylon Curtain Another argument about authenticity appears. 109. On multiple relistenings, I half-expected to find it annoying, but it’s not. Lately, though — like every artist from a generation back — he is undergoing a critical reassessment, despite some dissenters. People who write paeans to the suburbs, on topics that sit on the cusp between white-collar and blue-collar, are unfashionable these days. The big piano breaks are old-fashioned but not bad. 42. No more chip on his shoulder, secure in his talent, out Tony Bennett–ing Tony Bennett. Billy Joel Cold Spring Harbor (1971) 1. 29. Billy Joel The Stranger (1977) WINNER : "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" WINNER : "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" 2: 2. “Travelin’ Prayer,” Piano ManAnother one that feels like he’s on weird unfamiliar turf, but taken as a product of the early seventies, it’s not bad at all. Mostly avoids the oversinging that hurts songs like “Big Shot” — he sings with more of a straight growl here, and it’s a bit better. “You’re My Home,” Piano ManWarm, but also dull. 88. “Big Shot,” 52nd Street Arguably the most pissed-off record he ever made, and about what? Bring it out at your high-school reunion, and watch the couples start to slow-dance. 12. A friendly, affectionate thanks-and-bye-for-now song, and, well, all right, it’s not side two of Abbey Road, but it’s not hateable either. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. 120. “Roberta,” Streetlife SerenadeLonely guy wants to save a stripper who won’t talk to him. 112. Apparently Ellen was one of the first people to learn of his existence. 37. I, of course, was correct.). Already a subscriber? The best example is “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” a great-sounding pop song whose lyrics suffer from a general annoyance at all the critical love showered on the CBGB crowd. Since it’s more fun to focus on the negative, let’s list the 10 worst Billy Joel songs: 10) “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” It’s bad history. 28. Maybe a little too much production going on here, but a memorable, fun, remember-that-guy-Vinnie-we-used-to-know song. Could make a case for either; I like it. “Worse Comes to Worst,” Piano ManTitle tells you most of what you need to know. 81. 27 Notable New Releases Over the Next Two Weeks, Betty White Celebrates Her 99th With Carol Burnett Feeding a Baby Elephant. 10 of the best Billy Joel songs 18 Feb 2020, 12:07pm Gallery: From Katy Perry’s Trump skeleton to Adele’s middle finger: the most controversial Brit Awards moments – in pictures (As fans know, Cold Spring Harbor was butchered on its release; I used the remastered boxed-set version to give those songs a fair shake.) “No Man’s Land,” River of DreamsA guy watches the suburbs rise around him, hates them, but stays there all the same, hating himself. We’ve corrected it to say that the concert is February 18. “Storm Front,” Storm Front Surprising that this one didn’t end up in Twyla Tharp’s Movin’ Out, because it’s got a punchy, big sound that would translate well to a Broadway pit. “Why Judy Why,” Cold Spring HarborAnother very early song that sounds like it was made by an entirely different person. Billy Joel is the closest thing Madison Square Garden has to a sure thing — certainly more than the Knicks or the Rangers or the Liberty. 74. 48. God bless TikTok: at last, we’re reviving the saucy sea shanty! I’ve ranked songs based on each song’s best version. “The Longest Time,” An Innocent ManThe most retro song on a retro album, and another affectionate tribute to the doo-wop he heard as a kid. “That’s the problem with kids these days. But it’s no embarrassment, either. It gets one point for its classroom value: I will admit that I had to look up who Syngman Rhee was, and I learned interesting things. “All About Soul,” River of Dreams Another from the Depression Series that had many of the ingredients to be a hit but didn’t have the snap to get there. Uptown Girl. Not terrible, but ultimately not very interesting, either. The straightest of straight-up ballads, I grant you, but this is Billy Joel’s “Yesterday,” and “clevah conversation” makes it all his own, because Long Island. Might benefit from a remix. “The Great Suburban Showdown,” Streetlife SerenadeNot-terrible vision of suburban anomie, but the references — crabgrass, sitting around the kitchen — are just too unoriginal. Pretty bad, and on a pretty good album to boot. The argument is headed in this direction: He’s not quite the hard-rock star he sometimes tried to be, but he’s a better pop songwriter than you remember, and sometimes a great one. *Sorry, there was a problem signing you up. Falls down our list for that “nonononono biiiiig shottttttt didnja” line he sings toward the end, which is just ridiculous. I’ll admit that the live recordings are way better than the studio version. 62. Holds up, and you should go listen to it again. That’s about a quarter of the songs he’s written and recorded. Fortunately, Billy Joel is one artist whose filler is entirely listenable, a testament to his skill as a musician. 52. 8. “Modern Woman,” The Bridge Spirited, and sorta fun — you can really picture this as the music behind a quick-cut montage in an ’80s Danny DeVito movie — but the cheese factor is very high. Unimaginable that it’d be a hit today — this is another one that’s totally out of style — but it’s a particular weakness of mine, even though it’s not about much of anything besides, y’know, pressure. 5. “State of Grace,” Storm FrontAfter more than a few listenings in the past month, not a single lyric from this song stuck with me. Better known, perhaps, for the Garth Brooks cover version, and if you don’t hate that Nashville sound, a good one. 34. New York was, everyone thought, dying; amazing to think that a song could be written from the point of view of a retiree in Florida, remembering when the city collapsed. “Sleeping With the Television On,” Glass Houses The best Billy Joel song that was never a hit. Comes from a good place — Long Island fishermen do indeed have it tough; he probably knows some of those guys, going way back; the whole scene feels honest — but the synths and production have aged terribly. 80. “Allentown,” The Nylon Curtain A lot of people think this is a terrible song. Was he on vacation? “And So It Goes,” Storm FrontA better song on Joel’s weakest album, maybe because the sentiment isn’t very complicated. 50. “Famous Last Words,” River of Dreams“These are the last words I have to say”: Joel’s last song on his final studio album, apart from some one-off releases. Might’ve been a lot better with a rewrite. 101. It’s about an imaginary friend, and it’s much better than you’d ever guess. Not profound, but a superior piece of pop craftsmanship. “The Mexican Connection,” Streetlife SerenadeAn instrumental that sounds like the rights-free music people use in YouTube videos. When we’re all in the mood for a melody, he gets us feeling alright. “Somewhere Along the Line,” Piano ManAn early song from his Depression Canon, this one seems to be about anhedonia — “it’s all going to catch up to you” — but it’s musically a little flat. “Summer, Highland Falls,” TurnstilesEveryone but me seems to single out this song as one of his very best, maybe the best. Hawley has found a new publisher for his book in Regnery, which is distributed globally by… wait for it… Simon & Schuster. Inauthentic, and it shows. Billy Joel Turnstiles (1976) Eliminated after the semi-final : "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" Billy Joel was was never a Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa, out to subvert the conventions of pop music; his strengths are plainspoken language, melody, and (of course) piano, and the songs that depend most on those qualities tend to be better than the ones where he gets artier. 87. Might be fodder for the right cover artist. “Two Thousand Years,” River of DreamsHe’s reaching for something philosophical and trying for a big idea, but it doesn’t quite get there, and the lyrics wander. “Real-estate novelist” is a great, vivid three-word characterization. 110. 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