For two decades, Joel's discography has remained essentially unchanged; what's different is the context in which that music is now heard. When Billy Joel was Public Enemy No. 1 among rock critics, he suffered in comparison to Springsteen in part because the artists were likened on Springsteen's terms.... Twenty years ago, Springsteen and Joel represented opposing sides in a debate — "authenticity" vs. "artifice" — that formed the crux of nearly every conversation about popular music. Today, this dialogue has been marginalized to the point of virtual silence. Hating Billy Joel is no longer a meaningful act; at best, it suggests that you're the sort of person who's actively annoyed by things that most people tend to like or at least tolerate. But it doesn't register as an aesthetic choice in a larger cultural argument, because most people have long since checked out of the discussion. And this has helped how Billy Joel's music is perceived. Joel's strengths — his accessibility, his knack for romantic balladry, his understated versatility in adapting to different songwriting and production styles — are no longer held against him. As far as Billy Joel's legacy is concerned, staying put has been the next best thing to dying.Related: Vulture's list of twenty great forgotten Billy Joel songs.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
BEFORE WE ALL LIVED HERE IN FLORIDA: A very nice Billy Joel career reevaluation by Grantland's Steven Hyden, in the wake of Joel's rather stellar 12.12.12 concert performance, in which Hyden argues that Joel's decision to stop recording new music in 1993 has only helped his reputation:
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