Listen to the podcast above (with song clips) or read below.
Billy Joel wrote a lot of songs back when he was writing and recording. These days he’s pretty much touring exclusively, playing the same old songs to the same old crowd that eats it up regardless. I know he’s been adding deeper cuts to recent shows, and a few interesting covers, but you still have to sit through the usual hits to get to songs like Zanzibar. I’d prefer a new record, which I’ll probably never get. And I don’t mean piano concertos. I want new rock and roll songs, even if he has to lower the key. I wanna see Rick Rubin lock Billy in a room with a piano until he writes twelve new songs. Maybe invite past band-mates like Russell Javors, Richie Cannata and Liberty DeVitto to flesh things out. This, of course, will never happen, and that sucks.You know what else sucks? These five songs. Well, maybe sucks is the wrong word. Or maybe it’s totally the right word for at least some of these 5 Worst Billy Joel Songs.
5. This Is the Time
Let’s start with the most divisive one. There are fans that absolutely adore this song. It’s somebody’s wedding song, I’m sure of it. Maybe yours. Or maybe you remember slow dancing at the prom to this one and That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne and Friends. It could be that it makes you nostalgic for that thick head of hair you had in 1986. Me? I can’t listen to it. I could hardly listen to it for this article. Granted, David Brown does some nice Hendrixy guitar throughout, but even that can’t save this saccharine snoozefest from the dollar bin. This is like a watered/dumbed down version of the much better I’ve Loved These Days (and to a lesser extent, Souvenir). No joke; they used this as the theme song for an Italian soap opera.
4. I Go to Extremes
Uh oh. I’m gonna get a lot of hate mail for this one. And as far as songs on this list go, this is the best one. Still, it kinda sucks. I mean, the energy is good, the chord changes are nice, but that’s where it all ends. This song and video feels like the last dying breath of the eighties. Man, I am being harsh but… come on, these are some of the worst lyrics he’s ever put to paper (apart from some of the choices below). The stuff he wrote for Christie Brinkley was never his most cerebral work, to put it mildly. Speaking of mild, Paul Anka covered this song.
3. Shades of Grey
You may be conflicted about this song. It certainly has a harder, albeit safe, edge. Yeah, it’s inspired by Cream, but it sounds more like a muzak version. The verses have a nice seventies bounce, but man, that chorus. “Black and white is how it should be, but shades of gray are the colors I see.” Holy shit, did Christie write this? No wonder you gave up on writing songs. Also, please write more songs.
2. Modern Woman
It was 1986. I was wearing red shorts that were way too short and a Hawaiian shirt that was getting a little snug. My pal and I waited patiently for the new Billy Joel song on the radio. This was the follow up album to Innocent Man, a genre album I respected, but I wanted something new and edgy. Instead I got this. Yeah, it moves, but in a Bette Midler housewifey kinda way, which is no surprise since it was written for Ruthless People. Anyway, my friend and I were thoroughly disgusted. Then we heard Matter of Trust and felt a little better about the pending record. Though, let’s be honest, Matter of Trust hasn’t exactly aged well, either. This song sounds like it should be played over a montage of Delta Burke trying on different outfits for a big night in Eightiesville.
1. You’re Only Human (Second Wind)
At number one is this utterly useless track. It’s one of two new songs released with the multi-million selling Greatest Hits double album in 1985. The other was While the Night Is Still Young, which, while borrowing from Until the Night, still kicks a little ass. This one, however, smells like a little ass. It’s like he gave up using real instruments and tossed his song writing credentials out the window. In full disclosure, the fact that this (terrible) video was filmed on Staten Island and referenced It’s a Wonderful Life was something of a thrill for my 15 year old self. Yet, it’s an anti-suicide song that manages to sound more like a Depends commercial. Imagine telling someone about to kill themselves “you’re only human, you’re supposed to make mistakes.” Is this is the same guy that wrote Captain Jack? Ugh. And it broke the top ten!? Jeezus, those were different times.
Lucky for us he’s got a whole catalog of better material, though you may want to focus on his seventies output when he could do no wrong. Now I know a lot of you are steaming mad right now. You don’t want to hear some ding dong criticize the songs you love. Between you and me, that’s the whole point of a list like this. To make you angry. I hope it worked. Now go listen to The Stranger or 52nd Street and get over it.
Hip Hop Now
Here’s five acts doing their thing in the first installment of Hip Hop Now.
Chicago rapper Saba‘s new record Care For Me features Chance The Rapper on “Logout.”
From Everything is Fine, a collaboration between rapper/satirists Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, here’s “Zero.”
Tyler, the Creator stays weird and rhymes chicken nugget with fuckit on rap nugget “Okra.”
Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions lost his cousin to police violence and channels that energy into the controversial “Like Me.”
Rapper/actor A$AP Rocky samples Moby‘s “Porcelain” on “A$AP Forver.”
A Quiet Place
“A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.”
A lot of skepticism crossed my mind when I first saw the trailer for A Quiet Place. A lot of familiarity to the falsely-marketed It Comes of Night were smeared all over this film. A family trapped in what seems like a post-apocalyptic world, forced to farm, hunt, and live like 1930’s Okie’s in the dust bowl. No real explanation of what happened and what is hunting them. Nah! I figured that they would foresee the comparisons and will stray away from the “its the people that are the real monsters” trope.
Thank the Lord that they did.
From the beginning of the film we see that there is a real threat, and the family is just trying to live in silence, literally. They have to keep extremely quiet in order to not be heard by the creatures who kill by sound. The theater experience was very interesting for this film as the audience fell to dead silence, as if we were participating in the same scenario.
This movie relied heavily on some tremendous acting. John Krasiniski not only directs but stars with real-life wife Emily Blunt, and holds down the lead role with a mix of grit and sincerity. Blunt knocks it out the park as the mother who suffers through grueling moments, pantomiming some extreme pain that had the audience cringing with tension.
More impressive were the kids. Noah Jupe, who has been quietly making waves with his acting in movies such as Wonder and the sub-par film Suburbicon, was stretched in this movie portraying the son, but Millicent Simmonds, who I couldn’t pinpoint to any other film, carried a lot of the emotional weight and was burdened with the heaviest guilt.
Now the creatures were obviously CGI and it was noticeable, but when they make their grand appearance it doesn’t really matter. The way they hunt, move about, and made their weird clicking noise, made them fascinating monsters and even a bit creepy.
This movie did a great job of mixing emotion and tension and even though I found it toned down on the horror, I think it could have a few people curled up in their seats from the thrill.
Overall Grade: B
This movie was good and it was held up but some truly stellar acting, directing and writing. Don’t expect a lot of horror, but do expect to be uneasy with a few scenes. Oh, the ending was simple but very bad-ass!
Drama, Horror, Thriller
Director: John Krasinski
1 hours 30 minutes
Aegyo – What the What?
You know how you and your significant other do the baby talk thing? Come on, you do it, admit it. Sometimes you talk to each other in a childish voice or make silly little gestures that you would never use at, for example, a business meeting or at the dentist. Well, this is a whole cottage industry in South Korea and they call it Aegyo.
Aegyo, a tool long leveraged by South Korean ladies to get what they want through sheer cuteness, has been leveraged by male and female K-Pop Idol groups to ginormous success. In fact, there are songs where one can do little cutsey gestures to the whole thing. Two popular aegyo anthems are The Gwiyomi Song and Oppaya, and there are videos aplenty on YouTube where folks of all ages and backgrounds vie for cringe-worthy cuteness. Some of these videos have millions upon millions of views. There’s even K-Pop Idol shows where folks watch each other express aegyo and react with howls of laughter.
Holy cow, the more I talk about this, the weirder it gets. Yet, I can’t look away.
Other cultures are jumping on the band wagon, too. Check out the videos below for some adorable examples.
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