Billy Joel is an American treasure. From his perpetually sold-out Madison Square Garden shows to his songs that have become national anthems, the Piano Man is the voice of a generation—and their kids.
As a Long Islander from Joel's beloved Cold Spring Harbor, I feel personally prepared to judge his massive body of work by their music videos. While some of them totally miss the mark, others are basically Oscar-worthy.
To celebrate the anniversary of his album River of Dreams, which was released on this day in 1993 (and is his most important work, in my humble opinion), keep scrolling to see his music videos, ranked from mediocre to deserving of a trophy.
Honestly, who has ever voluntarily taken a trip to Allentown? Heck, Billy Joel’s probably never even been there. The original title of the song was actually “Levittown,” a town on Long Island.
11. “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)”
Billy goes full Christmas Carol and shows a suicidal teen everything he’d miss if he jumps off that bridge. Think Billy Joel as guardian angel (and wearing a really cool Inspector Gadget-style trench coat).
10. “River of Dreams”
Though this is objectively the best Billy Joel song, it sadly isn’t his best music video. It does, however, feature a cameo by Joel's then-wife Christie Brinkley, who is painting the cover art to the album in the video (something she actually did in real life). I think my main problem with this video is that Billy Joel spends most of his time singing on a bridge while wearing a suit instead of traveling down a literal river of dreams. Someone really went the wrong way with the art direction on this one.
9. “A Matter of Trust”
I like this video because it’s what I would imagine Billy is actually like in real life, including commanding his bandmates with the salutation, “OK, girls.” Who doesn’t want to join in on a Billy Joel block party?
8. “My Life”
Let’s be real: Billy Joel’s hair is the real star of this video. He gives Uncle Jesse a run for his money.
7. “The Longest Time”
Billy Joel is the star of his own doo-wop group, and I don’t know what else you could want in a music video.
6. “Goodnight Saigon”
This song never fails to make me cry, so honestly watch at your own risk and make sure your mascara is waterproof before hitting play. Whenever Billy sings "Goodnight Saigon" live, he brings members of the armed forces on stage to join in for the chorus, and there’s never a dry eye in the room. He took the same approach to the music video, showing footage from a live concert intermixed with photos and videos of veterans in the Vietnam War.
5. “Piano Man”
Can you imagine if Billy Joel never made it big and instead spent his days singing at a dive bar? Yeah, this video delivers.
4. “Tell Her About It”
In this one, Billy looks like he should be the lead singer on Hairspray’s Corny Collins Show. He even dubs his band “BJ and the Affordables.” If that isn’t a relatable-enough name for you, Billy trying Michael Jackson-esque dance moves will win you over.
3. “Keeping the Faith”
Billy Joel is on trial, and he sings his way to an innocent verdict because, as we all know, he is an “innocent man.”
2. “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
This music video is great mostly because Billy Joel plays a real-life version of this meme while playing piano:
And who wouldn’t want Billy to just be hanging out in their kitchen as their major life events play out?
1. “Uptown Girl”
The video, in the no. 1 spot, gives off major Grease vibes, starring a gang of dudes dancing around in a mechanic shop—and the “backstreet guy” has some smooth moves. Plus, Billy is surprisingly convincing as a mechanic (it’s no wonder he went on to open his own motorcycle shop on Long Island), and his IRL lady love, Christie Brinkley, plays the "Uptown Girl." It’s no wonder she’s rumored to be the inspiration behind the song.