Four months after kicking off Montauk Madness (with a Billy Joel song, appropriately), we have arrived at the Final Four. Lots of close calls and blowouts, laughers and hair-pullers, and a lot of entertaining debate culminate in three more votes to decide — well, I’m not sure what we’re deciding. The consensus best artist according to readers of this blog as chosen from a group of 64 bands and soloists I rather haphazardly pulled together?
My initial intention for this series of blogs was just to run through the brackets myself and use the format to conclusively come up with my own favorite artist. I quickly realized that such an approach would be incredibly boring for my readers, who would certainly want a chance to chime in with their own votes.
Welcome to Round Four of Montauk Madness! The Elite Eight! Four contests that, if everything has worked out according to plan, will have you pulling your hair out trying to pick winners.
Our first battle faces off a couple of legendary New Yorkers: Billy Joel and Paul Simon. Joel defeated Michael Penn in Round One, Frank Sinatra in Round Two and Van Morrison in Round Three. Simon took out Elton John, Sting and Lucinda Williams. I voted for both of them every step of the way. Continue reading
Back by popular demand after a two-week hiatus, it’s Montauk Madness! Specifically the third round of Montauk Madness, where the Sweet Sixteen faces off in our toughest matchups yet. Brace yourselves for some hard decisions!
Our first face-off pits Van Morrison against Billy Joel. A battle across the pond, Ireland vs. New York. Morrison made it here by spanking Barenaked Ladies with 91% of the vote and soundly defeating Peter Gabriel with 73%, while Joel had even more decisive victories over Michael Penn (95%) and Frank Sinatra (82%).
OK, now it gets interesting! Welcome to Round Two of Montauk Madness. The 32 artists who survived Round One now advance to face each other in a battle to reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Both Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra cleared Round One without breaking a sweat. Joel received 95% of the vote in a matchup against Michael Penn, while Sinatra picked up 86% against my beloved Tift Merritt.
How will they fare against each other? Continue reading
Today I embark on one of the most ambitious projects I’ve attempted during the almost nine years I’ve been posting a Song of the Day.
I was inspired by my favorite podcast, Filmspotting, which (inspired by March Madness) has run a Filmspotting Madness competition each year to determine the best [fill in the blank].
Here’s a wonderful Billy Joel track first released on 1976’s Turnstiles and later on the 1981 live compilation Songs in the Attic (that’s the version featured here).
Turnstiles was written after Joel left Los Angeles to return to his native New York and exercise more control over his music (he produced the album himself). That move is reflected in such titles as ‘New York State of Mind’ and ‘Say Goodbye to Hollywood.’ On this track, he admits that, while it’s time for him to move on, he’ll have fond memories of his life in L.A.
My #2 album of 1980 would elicit gasps among the critical elite, who have long dismissed Billy Joel as a hack. Fuck ’em. Glass Houses is a blast — not The Stranger or 52nd Street great, but a whole lot of fun.
Rolling Stone wrote a vicious review of this album that ends with the admittedly catchy line “his material’s catchy… but then, so’s the flu.” And that’s about the kindest thing they had to say.
I don’t get it. But I’ve never gotten the hostility so many music snobs have for Billy Joel.