Impeccable. “Worse Comes to Worst,” Piano ManTitle tells you most of what you need to know. The synths sound terrible now, and the petulance is creeping in, which does him no favors. “Getting Closer,” The Bridge Repetitive and plodding. Every Billy Joel Album Ranked Worst To Best. Does not fail on the angry-young-man front. 46. Unusually oblique. 104. 28. Might be fodder for the right cover artist. I’ve listed which Billy Joel album they first appeared on and, if different, the album containing my favorite rendition. 73. But the big chorus is undeniable — it’s hard not to be swept along when it starts to crest. 19. “Everybody Has a Dream,” The Stranger Joel says “Get It Right the First Time” is the weak link on this album, but this is the song nobody remembers. Lyrically slack. 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. “Weekend Song,” Streetlife SerenadeAnother one with echoes of Elton John. 82. Not a very interesting idea — essentially “Yeah, I can sometimes be an ass, but I’m fun, too” is a sentiment that covers about three-quarters of the population — but a well-wrought song if you accept that up front. First verse is the best. Only The Good Die Young. 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 An extremely commercial song of the ’80s, recorded as a movie theme. 12. 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. The arrangement could, admittedly, be a little crisper. Pretty strong cut for one that few people remember. 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. Wish he’d left out the helicopters, though. “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. 51. 42. (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.) This 1988 track gave Billy another number one hit in America, and reached number two in the UK. Another one that’s quite a bit better in the live recordings than in the studio. “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. “Blonde Over Blue,” River of DreamsNicely written first verse about being lonely at night, but it goes boring after that. 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 66. 87. 53. Joel’s recording is not bad at all, but if only someone like Bobby Womack had given it a whirl! 75. 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. Surely that scene could’ve produced a song more interesting than this. Billy Joel’s first record, Cold Spring Harbor, was released through Family Production before his second discovery by Columbia Records. You gotta stop somewhere. God bless TikTok: at last, we’re reviving the saucy sea shanty! Nice little prelude to … something. So much is wrong here: boomer-generation narcissism, the tri-state-area-news myopia (“hypodermics on the shore”? Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” The Stranger His longest song — it’s really three songlets, intertwined, a little seven-minute operetta — and, yes, his best. Can I watch it if I don’t have TV? “New York State of Mind,” TurnstilesEvery era produces a couple of standards about New York City, and this one more than holds its own, between Comden and Green on one end and Jay Z and Alicia Keys on the other. 37. 25. “The River of Dreams,” River of Dreams The almost-title song of the album (why add a “The”?). (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. 13 Top 10 Hit; 42 Songs; The River Of Dreams. 31. Single. 36. Is it very pretty? “Nobody Knows But Me,” single, 1982A kids’ record, made for a CTW compilation album. 56. Electric and well sung, especially on the bridge. “Goodnight Saigon,” The Nylon Curtain Another argument about authenticity appears. 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). Why didn’t I put it dead last? “Allentown,” The Nylon Curtain A lot of people think this is a terrible song. Not bad at all. 2. Hawley has found a new publisher for his book in Regnery, which is distributed globally by… wait for it… Simon & Schuster. “Souvenir,” Streetlife SerenadeJoel’s shortest recorded song. Billy Joel Greatest Hits Full Album 2020 - The Very Best of Billy Joel “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. 4. 24. Might benefit from a less-dense arrangement with fewer layers. “All You Wanna Do Is Dance,” TurnstilesOne a few songs on this list with misplaced reggae inclinations. Clean power, vivid image, supple singing, tight rhythm, well-made, and bulletproof. New York State Of Mind was influenced by his time working with Ray Charles, who he’d duetted with on the song “Baby Grand”. Billy Joel. “Stiletto,” 52nd StreetAnother energetic R&B song. New York State Of Mind (Turnstiles, 1976). The latest offers and discount codes from popular brands on Telegraph Voucher Codes, Pop’s mad king: my extraordinary day at Phil Spector’s castle, In spite of Covid, Celtic Connections shows Scottish folk music has never been healthier, Blue Monday: how the New Order hit ‘broke every single law’ of record sleeve design – and changed music forever, Laugh your way through Blue Monday with our cultural survival guide, Phil Spector’s final interview before jail: ‘I have devils inside that fight me’, RSNO returned with a concert that sought to do more than soothe, plus the best of January’s concerts, Cerys Matthews: 'Poetry's the new rock'n'roll', If Nobody is Listening to Zayn Malik, it’s because he has nothing mature to say. I kinda like this one, but it does feel like a song a lot of people could have written. (Benefits by comparison with Sting’s “Russians,” a similar, cheesier record.) Tomorrow Is Today (#58) 38. Anthony and Mama Leone and Sergeant O’Leary are New Yorkers of a certain age, people we know well, and this is a fine three-and-a-half-minute radio drama about them. Fun song in concert; cheesier at home. Could be Steve Winwood; could be the Traveling Wilburys; could be almost anyone. “Leave a Tender Moment Alone,” An Innocent Man This is a really sweet song that nobody pays attention to. 8. 50. So he got the future wrong, but something about New Yorkers’ toughness still applies. A Great American Songbook song, written 20 years too late to have made it into the canon. The song was inspired by Billy Joel's first wife Elizabeth Weber. 9. • Too many sound effects. 27 Notable New Releases Over the Next Two Weeks, Betty White Celebrates Her 99th With Carol Burnett Feeding a Baby Elephant. For critics, he’s a problem. “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. Bring it out at your high-school reunion, and watch the couples start to slow-dance. But that whole “Hey, what about me? “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. 115. “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel),” River of DreamsNicely sung, presumably for his daughter Alexa, who was about 7 when this was recorded. “I Go to Extremes,” Storm FrontAs catchy as a single ever was. Alright, it’s arguably bogus: He didn’t actually go fight in Vietnam. “Laura,” The Nylon CurtainA highly conflicted mom song, and the darker counterpart to “Rosalinda’s Eyes,” as it gets at the crueler, more difficult side of Rosalind Joel. We’ve corrected it to say that the concert is February 18. “Easy Money,” An Innocent Man Unfortunately evokes nothing so much as Rappin’ Rodney. Billy Joel The Stranger (1977) WINNER : "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" WINNER : "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" 2: 2. Seems out of proportion to the problem. “The Stranger,” The StrangerA little self-conscious, a little arty (that whistled intro). Sounds like it was cut from River of Dreams. 109. Soars nicely in the chorus, especially. “Just the Way You Are,” The StrangerThe 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. 79. “Turn Around,” Cold Spring HarborAnother first-album ballad, probably not worth reviving. It does have about the purest, cleanest production he ever had. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. I’ll admit that the brake screech in “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” is fun. 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. “Christie Lee,” An Innocent ManYeah, it’s dated, but c’mon: If you were reading gossip columns in the heyday of Page Six, the Christie Brinkley songs (of which there are several) are pretty nearly irresistible fun. 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. Leave a Tender Moment Alone 48 points - added 7 years ago by guest - 2. “Falling of the Rain,” Cold Spring Harbor Screams 1971 in a weird, Pippinish-hippie way that doesn’t seem to come from a natural place for Joel: “misty satin dreams” and “wooded glades”? Every Billy Joel Album Ranked Worst To Best. “Last of the Big Time Spenders,” Streetlife SerenadeA baby “Baby Grand,” unjustly ignored. 78. * He has established a standing residency there, like a guy who plays a monthly nightclub gig, except that the club happens to seat 18,000. “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). “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. “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. I like this one, probably more than most people do. “Everybody Loves You Now,” Cold Spring HarborSuper-catchy, bouncy piano, sneery. “All for Leyna,” Glass Houses A pretty intense, pretty good stalker song. And wait two years for the be-all-end-all live performance of this one, probably at Sun Life Stadium. Fast piano, banjo, even a jaw harp. Billy Joel. 106. It’s about an imaginary friend, and it’s much better than you’d ever guess. 47. “You May Be Right,” Glass HousesGood straight-up power pop song. On multiple relistenings, I half-expected to find it annoying, but it’s not. “An Innocent Man,” An Innocent Man Hard to think of a rock star as an innocent, but he really was — don’t forget that he was repeatedly conned out of millions of dollars by his managers and handlers. “Even rode my motorcycle in the rain” is a pretty dumb line, which pulls it down on the list, and it loses a couple more points for the repeat-and-fade. Stopping after 1993's … 76. 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. 39. 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. This song literally fought for its freedom through its composure, vocals and lyrics. “That’s the problem with kids these days. “Tomorrow Is Today,” Cold Spring HarborTwo minutes into a rather quavery M.O.R. Possibly saved by the “modren woman” throwaway at the end. 14. 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. Just The Way You Are. But play it in a room full of music snobs, and they know every. 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. “Surprises,” The Nylon CurtainOne of several Beatles tributes he’s recorded. It’s 60 percent of the way to being a great Pete Seeger song, which is not a knock; a lot of people never get close to that. 114. You\'ll receive the next newsletter in your inbox. 43. “Real-estate novelist” is a great, vivid three-word characterization. Every Billy Joel Album Ranked Worst To Best. “This Is the Time,” The Bridge Another ’80s-prom anthem, and I think you have to be a real churl to hate it. © 2021 Vox Media, LLC. “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),” Turnstiles That date sounded deep in the future back in 1976, didn’t it? Was he on vacation? Click on up and down arrows to affect item's ranking Add item. “A Matter of Trust,” The BridgeClosest thing he’s ever made to a Queen-style stadium anthem to play at sporting events, with a chorus that benefits from a lot of people singing along. Sleaford Mods: Spare Ribs, review: when you're this angry and inventive, who needs tunes? “Through the Long Night,” Glass HousesHas a sewing-machine piano line that gets sleepy, but a nice ballad. 70. 116. 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. “Leningrad,” Storm FrontYes, it’s kitsch — of course Russian people live ordinary lives too — and the music is gooey. I am in his camp. 119. 40. “The Entertainer,” Streetlife SerenadeThe Piano Man finds success! It feels honest to me. 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. • He’s best when writing about his own time and his own world. **An incorrect reference to the sax solo in this song has been removed. Lyrics about broken friendships have a little kick, given that Joel’s had his share. Literally forgettable. “No Man’s Land,” River of DreamsA guy watches the suburbs rise around him, hates them, but stays there all the same, hating himself. 10. 55. Tristan the Slightly Rakish has come to Darrowby. The Nylon Curtain. A hard look at one of cinema’s oldest genres. Everybody Loves You Now (#32) 3. 49. Best Billy Joel Songs 41 items ranked. 29. “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. *Sorry, there was a problem signing you up. “C’était Toi (You Were the One),” Glass HousesOh man. Peaked at #3 on 18.02.1978. “Shameless,” Storm FrontNo piano! I’ll also give you that the piano performance is among his best. “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. I’ll admit that the live recordings are way better than the studio version. Does that minor/major/minor/major step-down chord progression that Paul McCartney made his signature, with added George Martin shimmer. Billy Joel and Jon Small, the drummer of The Hassles then formed the psychedelic duo "Attila" and released one album without success. 57. Playlist: Songs of the Summer from the Sklar Brothers Radio on the TV: Foster the People, Billy Joel, Iggy Izalea and More "The Times They Are A-Changin'" turns 50 She's Got a Way (#26) 2. Not terrible, but ultimately not very interesting, either. 7. “You Picked a Real Bad Time,” B-side from 1993Very slick, not very good white-guy blues. “Nocturne,” Cold Spring HarborQuasi-Chopin instrumental — though there are unrecorded lyrics — that absolutely refuses to stick in the mind. (Never mind that it was reportedly written about his previous supermodel girlfriend, Elle Macpherson.). 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’. Has aged better than you’d think. Fortunately, Billy Joel is one artist whose filler is entirely listenable, a testament to his skill as a musician. “The Night Is Still Young,” Greatest Hits An odd and unique one-off recording, with Joel’s voice multi-tracked. 58. • The songs that rise to the top are, with a few exceptions, the purer ones. Not a song you want to turn off. Here’s a link to the winning song of the list: 9. 94. Peaked at #3 on 12.11.1983. Songs ranked in each album : 123: 123. 69. “Get It Right the First Time,” The Stranger Joel calls this the weak link on one of his best albums, and I’ll admit that it sounds like the theme to a funny-cops sitcom that never happened. 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. 100. “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. Robert Christgau called his 1976 album Turnstiles “obnoxious,” which it is not. Sweet if not deep; a little out of place on the album, but that’s okay. 17. • His Achilles’ heel is a recurrent, petulant demand for respect. A song that exemplifies a recurring problem on this list: memorable hook paired with dull verses. “Elvis Presley Boulevard,” B-side, 1982 An offcut, rarely heard and better than you’d think; worth seeking out for a listen. Just because she’s almost 100 years old doesn’t mean the hustle stops for even a second. I disagree. “52nd Street,” 52nd Street Sounds like one of the Ray Charles duets without Ray. Kind of a shrug, in the end, but a pretty one. “The Ballad of Billy the Kid,” Piano ManIs the end of the song, when he inserts himself, cheesy or charming? “Tell Her About It,” An Innocent ManOne of what I refer to as Joel’s Instructional Songs: records aimed directly at young people who need a boost in times of trouble. 18. The unintentionally hilarious video may be affecting my judgment a little here. A mature guy, doing the standards thing — except it’s a standard he wrote himself. 89. 112. Sits well on the album, though not super-interesting when taken on its own.
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