* BreakawayPopHit: "Why Should I Worry" from ''Disney/OliverAndCompany''. Bonus points because he didn't write it.
* BreakthroughHit: "Piano Man", which is also one of his [[SignatureSong best-known songs]]. In terms of Hot 100 performance, "Just The Way You Are" was his first top 10 hit.
* CowboyBebopAtHisComputer: The ''Rolling Stone Album Guide'' write-up on ''Streetlife Serenade'' makes you wonder just how closely the author was listening to the album in question. "The Mexican Connection" is cited as an example of a "narrative vignette that strains too hard to be clever" the song in question is an instrumental which can in no way be considered a narrative vignette. It also cites the "rollicking, jazzy piano" on "Last of the Big Time Spenders"; there ''is'' a piano on that song, but the song is a slow ballad with nothing rollicking or jazzy about it. Perhaps the author was thinking of "Root Beer Rag"?
* CreatorBacklash: Joel got sick of "Piano Man" for a time and refused to sing it in concert. He got over it, though the audience [[AudienceParticipationSong tends to save him the trouble of singing it]] when he plays it nowadays. And reportedly, he's not any too fond of "Just the Way You Are", either, because it's a love song to someone he ended up divorcing. Joel also retired "Uptown Girl" (another love song to an ex-wife) from his stage show for a long time, but he eventually reintroduced it.
** He doesn't necessarily ''hate'' "We Didn't Start The Fire", but he does consider it a "novelty song" and technically not one of his best melodies. [[WordOfGod He's also claimed]] it's one of the more difficult songs for him to perform, as he feels if he makes one mistake singing the lyrics, "the whole thing falls apart". His hesitance to perform "Uptown Girl" has had, by WordOfGod, more to do with the fact that he considers the Frankie Valli-like vocal style and the key it's written in to be hard on his voice (he usually places the song near the end of his setlists when he ''does'' perform it, for similar reasons), and nothing to do with him "being mad at Christie"; they are great friends.
** He's also admitted that he's not all that fond of "Tell Her About It", saying that it was an attempt to do a song InTheStyleOf Music/TheSupremes, but the finished product didn't really work the way he'd wanted it to.
** He seems embarrassed by the ''Glass Houses'' album track, "C'Était Toi (You Were the One)", at least due to his poor use of GratuitousFrench lyrics through the song. He often relates a story of his performance of the song in France to a puzzled audience as a major reason he no longer tackled foreign languages in song or performs the song any longer.
* CreatorRecovery: Billy Joel's very upbeat and poppy ''An Innocent Man'', a tribute to Joel's musical influences from TheSixties, followed the cynical, sociopolitically charged ''The Nylon Curtain''. While ''The Nylon Curtain'' was recorded during Billy's divorce from his first wife, ''An Innocent Man'' was a product of then-single Billy enjoying life as a bachelor and dating a number of supermodels, most notably his future second wife ChristieBrinkley.
* ExecutiveMeddling: Referenced in several songs. The lyrics from "The Entertainer", for example, refers to executive meddling which required him to reduce the length of "Piano Man":
-->''It took me years to write it\\
They were the best years of my life.\\
It was a beautiful song but it ran too long,\\
If you're gonna have a hit then you gotta make it fit\\
So they cut it down to 3:05''
* GreatestHits: Several since 1985, especially after his "retirement" from releasing pop music in 1994. 1985's double-length "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 & 2" sold 23x multi-platinum according to the RIAA, as of 2011, at least [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Hits_(Billy_Joel_albums)#cite_note-1 according to]] Wiki/TheOtherWiki.
* MagnumOpusDissonance: Though ''The Stranger'' is often considered as his masterpiece, Billy [[WordOfGod has often claimed]] his favorite album, and the one he is most proud of, aside from ''Fantasies And Delusions'' is ''The Nylon Curtain''.
* NamesTheSame: "Code of Silence" came out the same year as the Creator/ChuckNorris film. No relation.
** Joel's "Getting Closer" is not a cover of the 1979 Music/{{Wings}} hit.
** A metalcore band from Atlanta named [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attila_(metalcore_band) Attila]] bears no relation to Joel's duo.
** "Vienna" from ''The Stranger'' bears no relation to the Music/{{Ultravox}} hit.
* OldShame: Before launching his solo career, Joel was part of a hard rock duo called Attila. They released exactly one album, ''Music/{{Attila}}'' which was critically savaged and which Joel to this day is thoroughly embarrassed by.
** At least on a technical note, ''Cold Spring Harbor'', his debut, counts too. Not so much due to the material, but to the mastering, which was accidentally done at too high a speed. Even with the remastered/corrected version currently out, he feels it still sounds weird to him.
* ThrowItIn: There's a brief studder and chuckle during a verse in "You're Only Human (Second Wind)". Christie Brinkley and Paul Simon convinced him to keep it in, as it accentuated the song's message of recognizing and accepting personal fallibility.
* {{Trope Namer|s}}: "We Didn't Start the Fire" gives us WeDidntStartTheBillyJoelParodies.
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece
** "Big Shot" sings about attending hot spots like Elaine's (it closed in 2011) and wearing Halston original dresses (Halston died in 1990).
** "Sleeping With The Television On" makes reference to the time when TV broadcasts ended and began at certain hours, as opposed to now, when most broadcasts run 24/7, making the line about waking up to the white noise irrelevant.
** "We Didn't Start the Fire" mentions Tiananmen Square but not the collapse of the UsefulNotes/BerlinWall, placing it squarely at a specific point in 1989.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: According to [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_yPvB1vws Joel's account]], he first wrote "Only The Good Die Young" as a {{Reggae}} song. When he brought it into the studio and first played it, his drummer Liberty [=DeVitto=] [[DisproportionateRetribution threw his sticks at him, yelled "I fucking hate reggae!"]] and said [[DeadpanSnarker "the closest you ever got to Jamaica is when you change trains in Queens!"]]. [=DeVitto=] then demanded that the song be changed to a shuffle beat instead of a reggae beat, resulting in the version we know today. Joel also mentions that initially the single stiffed on the charts, and only began selling tons of copies after it was banned for being "anti-Catholic", and claims that he wrote a letter to the Archbishop of St. Louis saying "Thank you very much, please ban my next album as well."
** Unsuccessful attempts to record ''Turnstiles'' would have seen Billy produced by Beatles producer Music/GeorgeMartin, while at another point Music/EltonJohn's classic band (Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson) would have been his studio backing band as his label [[ExecutiveMeddling wanted Billy to have more of an Elton-like sound]]. Joel rebelled, moving from Los Angeles to New York City, producing the album himself and using his touring band.
** "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" was supposed to be more melancholy, as he had written it after a bout of depression during which he contemplated suicide. He decided to make the music more upbeat.
* WriterRevolt: "The Entertainer", written in protest of "Piano Man" being edited from 5:38 to 3:05 by his record company for single release.