YMMV / Billy Joel

  • Critical Research Failure: A minor example. "Only The Good Die Young", has the lyric "you got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation", the sacrament of First Holy Communion is the one with the white dress.
    • It may just refer to the subject's wedding dress.
  • Critical Dissonance: He's never been a critical favorite, but is still a major star.
  • Covered Up: "Shameless" and "To Make You Feel My Love" are both more famous through their covers by Garth Brooks.
    • "To Make You Feel My Love" wasn't even a Joel original- it was written and first performed by Bob Dylan... meaning that Joel was on both ends of this trope with the same song.
  • Despair Event Horizon: From "Piano Man": "'Bill, I believe this is killing me', as the smile ran away from his face..."
  • Ear Worm: "We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning..." Even worse if you know the lyrics.
    • "Pressure", "Allentown", "Uptown Girl", "Tell Her About It", "My Life", "Big Shot", "Piano Man", "The Entertainer", "Just The Way You Are", "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)", "Sometimes a Fantasy", "You May Be Right", "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me" "I Go To Extremes"—-he is a king of ear worm-writers.
    • "Only the Good Die Young" is one of the catchiest songs of all time.
    • "Only Human (Second Wind)" is another. Try getting that synth out of your head. I dare you!
  • Growing the Beard: His 1973 album, Piano Man, containing such classics as "Captain Jack", "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" and of course "Piano Man".
  • Harsher in Hindsight: "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" is about the violent destruction of New York, despite being written before 9/11/2001. Joel sang the song at a number of 9/11 tribute concerts to defy the trope.
    • His performance of it at the Concert For New York City, held less than a month after 9/11, actually turned it into a Heartwarming Moment.
    "I wrote that song 25 years ago, I thought it was gonna be a science fiction song... I never thought it would actually happen. But unlike the end of that song, we ain't going nowhere!"
    (Thunderous applause)
    • He sang it again at an NBC benefit concert telethon for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. He even changed one line of lyrics to reference the serious damage sustained by Staten Island in the storm.
    • "We Didn't Start The Fire" includes the lyrics, "terror on the airline"
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Uptown Girl", "I bet she never had a Backstreet Guy..."
  • Ho Yay: Billy observes that there is a lot of it in the shower scenes in his "Allentown" video, something he didn't notice at the time.
    • The song "James" also has a touch of it.
    Do you like your life?
    Can you find release?
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Narm Charm / Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The video for "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" is corny beyond all belief, but doesn't detract from the song's message.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The video for "Pressure." The cover of the Piano Man album is a bit freaky as well.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • "Piano Man" is very biographic. He was supporting himself by playing in a piano bar while waiting out a bad record deal and thought no one would believe his story, so he wrote a song about it. Everyone in the song is based on a real person.
    • An Innocent Man, an upbeat and nostalgic album reflected Billy's bachelorhood and newfound romances with Christie Brinkley and Elle MacPherson. River Of Dreams reflected Billy and Christie's marital woes and eventual divorce, along with Billy's legal issues (his ex-brother-in-law, who managed Billy's finances, was found to have cheated him for millions of dollars).
    • Turnstiles was written and recorded at a time when Billy and his first wife relocated to New York City after leaving California, and songs like "New York State Of Mind", "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" and "Summer, Highland Falls" (as well as the album cover, shot in an abandoned NYC subway station) reflect the move. "Summer, Highland Falls" also reflects the depression both were facing at the time.
  • Painful Rhyme:
    • "Uptown Girl" features the world/girl combination.
    • Possibly justified since it's on an album that's a pastiche of 50s and 60s music styles, when that word combination ran rampant.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • "Movin' Out" is a mostly harmless song, but the sound effects of screeching tires can be heard in the middle of the song... which is not exactly a kind thing for drivers to hear on the radio.
    • Discussed in "Pressure".
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: "Second Wind", both the song and the video, are pretty obvious and perhaps cheesy about teen suicide, but that doesn't make them any less powerful.
  • Squick: The "instant pleasuredome" line in "You're My Home."
    • "Captain Jack" counts as well.
  • Tear Jerker: If you live in New York—or really anywhere in the New York metro area—then "Miami 2017 (I've Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)" can definitely be this.
    • The same can be said about "New York State Of Mind."