Songs I Can't Stand #4 - "We Didn't Start the Fire"
February 19, 2017 8:35am CST
Even though it might seem like a safe pick if you really think about it, it's not. I'm taking on a popular song by a legendary musician: #4 in my Songs I Can't Stand series is "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel. If we lived in England, he'd be Sir William Joel by now, so popular is the man. Instead, Billy Joel was born in The Bronx and entered the music business in 1965. Six time Grammy winner Joel is the 6th best selling recording artist and 3rd best selling solo artist in the United States. He has sold over 150 million records worldwide, and is in the Rock and Roll, the Songwriter's, and the Long Island Music Hall's of Fame. Joel's 1989 album, Storm Front, was an international smash, reaching #1 in both the US and UK, and Top 5 like, everywhere else. Sales wise, the record achieved either gold, platinum, or multi platinum, again, pretty much everywhere. Those astonishing sales were spurred on mightily by "We Didn't Start the Fire," which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 in seven other countries. The song was nominated for three Grammy Awards. (Unfortunately, for some reason, I can't find any sales figures. Suffice it to say that a lot of people bought it.) In the song, Joel rattles off, quickly, over 100 historical events that took place from 1949 and 1989, including famous names from the same time period. Clever, or something that sounds extremely hastily written? I'm taking the second option. Joel himself has called "We Didn't Start the Fire" a "novelty song" because he didn't care much for the music, which sounds to me like a wannabe 80's keyboard oriented new wave dance band trying to fit into the current trend. It's well produced, but just feels "off." In fact, you know what this has always felt like to me? The record company demanded a pop radio hit, and Joel said "Ok, here you go" with "don't blame me" under his breath. And yet somehow it worked anyway. Give me "Zanzibar" right now, if you don't mind. Please? (Info verified by Wikipedia)
In 1989, Billy Joel released his Grammy Nominated album Storm Front. Watch the official music video for his #1 Hit Song "We Didn't Start the Fire." http://sm...
19 people like this
• United States
19 Feb 17
I guess he figured if R.E.M. could get away with listing things in a song ("It's the End of the World As We Know It [And I Feel Fine]") he could, too. About the only good thing I can say about this song is it inspired a great parody about the Cleveland Browns on Cowherd's show.
SUBSCRIBE to get all the latest content from The Herd: https://www.youtube.com/colincowherd?sub_confirmation=1 In honor of another horrible Browns season, Bi...
• Redlands, California
20 Feb 17
@teamfreak16 Yeah, guy kind of earned more respect than that. That is why I liked Tim Armstrong commenting n an interview one time when they were under Epitaph. He more or less said we are supposed to be in the studio right now working on our next record, but we said screw it and are going to travel for the year. Who cares what they want.
• Pikeville, North Carolina
19 Feb 17
I actually like the song because I am a history buff and I knew most of the references he made when a lot of people had no idea what they were about. I would bet most of the people who listen to the song have no idea what a lot of the things are, even some obvious things like Belgians in the Congo and California Baseball. It wasn't Joel's best. I'll give you that. But it wasn't his worst either. And it has come in handy when teaching social studies to middle schoolers.
• United States
21 Feb 17
I've never listened to this song all the way through.. Songs that I can't stand are where the lyrics are repeated over and over and over. It feels like there's only one line to the song and they weren't creative enough to come up with more. lol