What Makes Joel the Worst Singer Ever?

Contempt, phoniness drives 'really bad art'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 24, 2009 3:33 PM CST

(Newser) – Billy Joel serves up his own brand of schlock-rock, but why is it so uniquely bad? Critic Ron Rosenbaum easily pans the piano man—"anodyne, sappy, superficial, derivative, fraudulently rebellious"—but what he hates most is the “unearned contempt" in Joel's tunes. It's usually for “the supposed phoniness” of others, “as opposed to the rock-solid authenticity of our B.J.," Rosenbaum writes in Slate.

For example:

  • Piano Man expresses contempt “both for the losers at the bar he's left behind” and for the “‘entertainer-loser’ (the proto-B.J.) who plays for them.”
  • The Entertainer tells us that “entertainers are phonies! Except exquisitely self-aware entertainers like B.J., who let you in on this secret.”
  • She's Always a Woman describes a gal who is “prone to ‘casual lies,’ ‘steals like a thief,’ ‘takes care of herself.’ Poor B.J., recycling every misogynist cliché in the book.”
To read more on Joel's "Shlock-Rock," click the link below.