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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Billy Joel has returned! Looking back at his biggest hits

The “Piano Man” has returned with a new single, his first since 2007. Billy Joel released “Turn the Lights Back On” on Feb. 1 to much anticipation from fans all around the world. Joel previously stated he wouldn’t consider making any new singles or albums, but after begrudgingly meeting with an up-and-coming writer, the process started again. Joel told Vulture magazine in 2018 that he stopped writing music in part of his mental health. “I would try to ease the pain of not being as good as I wanted to be,” he said. “It was a vicious cycle, so I stopped.” 

He then retracted that statement just a year later in 2019 when he told Rolling Stone “I’m never going to say never, I may come up with an idea that could become a new song, I may write a symphony, anything’s possible.” 

Joel has not slowed down performing however, he has held a residency at “the world’s most famous arena,” Madison Square Garden since 2014. With this new release, there will now be a new song to the concert setlist, something that hasn’t occurred in almost two decades. He recently played the single at the 66th Grammy Awards on Feb. 4, along with the classic, “New York State of Mind.” 

The five-time Grammy award-winning artist has countless hits, and it would be almost impossible to create a top-ten list. Instead of stating a personal opinion, let’s take a look at Joel’s ten highest-grossing singles, according to The Richest.  

No. 10, “Pressure,” released in 1982. This energetic hit blends rock & roll along with incredibly catchy lyrics and melodies. “Pressure” is certified two-time platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.  

No. 9, “My Life,” 1978. Just as the title of the track says, this hit is Joel himself recalling a story about his friend taking their life by charge and not caring what anyone else has to say. This first-person story paints a perfect picture and is some of Joel’s most vivid work. 

No. 8, “She’s Always a Women,” 1977. This romantic ballad is certainly a fan favorite, as the emotional versus gives the listener a valuable lesson about always trying to see the good in people. This song comes from Joel’s highest selling album, “The Stranger” and is two-time platinum. 

No. 7, “Tell Her About It,” 1983. This upbeat pop track is the essential driving with the windows down on a summer day. The catchy melody and chorus has made it infectious with fans for over four decades. This feel-good record is two-time platinum and will continue to be played at summer barbecues for many years to come. 

No. 6, “The Longest Time,” 1983. The acapella, doo-wop single just makes everyone want to snap their fingers, tap their feet and sing along. This song instantly became a smash hit for Joel, went two-time platinum. You will most certainly here this song on your dad’s yard work playlist. 

No. 5, “It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me,” 1980. Billy is questioning the landscape of music in the 80’s, and stating his point that not much has changed and the music still sounds great to him. 

No. 4, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” 1989. Joel has stated in interviews that this smash hit does get very annoying to perform at times, but the general idea of the hit is very memorable. This song highlights the various major world events that have occurred in his lifetime. This song’s time frame starts with his birth in 1949, all the way to its release date in 1989. He makes his point very clear that the world has always been burning, and his generation didn’t cause it. 

No. 3, “Uptown Girl,” 1983. Joel writes about his infatuation for a rich, pompous girl, and she will most likely not be interested in a blue-collar middle-class man like himself. This song is once again still played on radio stations today and went three-time platinum. 

No. 2, “Just the Way You Are,” 1977. This beautiful ballad of Joel tells his significant other that there is no need to change her appearance, clothing, and other things. He lets her know that he loves her exactly for who she is, and that will never change. This hit peaked at No.3 on the billboard charts in 1978 and went four-time platinum. 

No. 1, “Piano Man,” 1973. There was no debate, this song catapulted Joel from a nobody to now being one of the biggest artists in history. The beautiful first-person story gives a crystal-clear picture of what life was like for a piano bar artist, and all of the different characters that he interacted with. This smash hit sold over five million copies in America alone and has gone six-time platinum.

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Connor Coppola, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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