Monday, June 25, 2007

...of Two Weevils*

a) Elton John

b) Billy Joel
Place your vote.

* So say I.

9 comments:

  1. Elton's got my vote. He's just sooo cute!!!

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  2. now this is an interesting question--though they appeal to the same audience, and are both undisputed giants of piano-rock, these two men are quite different:

    BJ writes his own songs, EJ does not.

    BJ has consistently tried (and often failed) to put his finger on the pulse, singing topical songs, updating musical styles from bygone eras, and striving desperately to cultivate an authentic, gritty streetwise persona. EJ pretty much sings anything, with anyone, for pretty much any reason, as long as he can show off his sunglasses and hairpieces.

    True, both have had substance-abuse problems, but EJ was just partying too much and eventually quit, whereas BJ nearly died after drinking furniture polish because his first record got panned.

    Unquestionably, these two men exert equal dominance in the marketplace of cheesy music. The difference is that BJ has always been tortured by his congenital cheesiness, and has striven to escape it (of course, he is cursed and his efforts must always fail). EJ, on the other hand, creates exponents of cheese without a trace of effort or remorse--truly there is no limit to his cheesiness.

    This is the long way of saying I vote BJ, if only because he was in this band.

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  3. Anonymous9:12 AM

    BJ all the way!! can you say BIG SHOT???

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  4. Elton, Elton, Elton!!! The music is much better. Elton actually does write the music to his songs, just not the lyrics.

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  5. I've put in time with both, while living my double life as a 70s-Lite Radio fanatic. I think Billy Joel should win. My Life is at least as awesome as Candle In the Wind is horrible. In fact, My Life must be the greatest contribution to the Lite genre ever, and while I do love the early Elton, his worst is really the rock bottom. And I agree with Garth that it is more noble to strive fruitlessly against cheesiness than to sell your soul completely to it.

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  6. m_affflerbach2:10 PM

    I'm embarrassed to admit the amount of time I've thought about this. The only conclusions I have come to are:

    1) "Rocket Man" is really the only tolerable EJ song. The rest of his oeuvre is pretty painful.

    2) BJ is a cultural touchstone to those of us who grew up in the late 70s / early 80s. His stuff, while popular and cheesy, remains as part of the common soundtrack (not necessarily by choice but as part of the auditory wallpaper of life). Plus he wrote the theme for Bosom Buddies.

    I'll side with Garth and vote BJ, but would like to hear the merits of the possible addition of Neil Diamond in a future battle royale.

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  7. Garth is very convincing, and I'd vote Joel. But the following thought-experiment gives me pause:

    Imagine you spend, say, a long weekend listening on and off-- and over and over-- to a double-album length greatest hits collection of Elton John. By the end, I'd be extremely irritated, maybe even enraged. But my state of mind would be limited to a kind of intense 'Turn that crap off!' frustration.

    Now, same scenario, but with Billy Joel (for whom a 3 volume greatest hits is available). The diversity of musical styles, the arty, singer-songwriter lyrics, the recurrent themes and characters, the arc of his career from album to album-- these features would amount to something far more engrossing than the Elton John weekend. I would become more involved in the music, and thereby more corrupted. Rather than a mere irritant which could be easily cleansed away, Billy Joel's music would fester like a cancer in my ears (apologies to ear-cancer victims), and in my mind.

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  8. I vote Billy Joel.

    Sarah votes Billy Joel.

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  9. Cameron8:41 AM

    If I was trapped in a radio wasteland and landed on some EJ tunes I'd be happy to hear them. But I can't think of a BJ tune that I could say the same for...
    Elton wins. Plus his name is better.

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