Billy Joel and Elton John

Billy Joel and Elton John.  Two legendary figures of our time (and our parents’ time).  I was lucky enough to attend their concert in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  It is amazing to me that even though neither artist has put out new songs lately, they are still just as much loved, respected, and admired as they were when Billy Joel first came out with “Piano Man” or Elton John first came out with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What a great duo to team up!  First they played a set together, then Elton John played for an hour, then Billy Joel played for an hour, then they played together to end the concert.  Hearing each of them sing the other person’s songs was really great to see too.  And of course, they ended with the renowned “Piano Man.”  Check out the YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NnR4hr9f4w. What a feeling they must get every time they stop singing the refrain and the audience sings for them (you can see this at 5:09 on the video)!  I would show you my video, but then you would hear my “not-so-lovely” voice in the background (pretty embarrassing once I realized that I was singing in all of my videos).

When I was at the concert, I thought about the evolution of music a bit.  No modern artist would put on a concert like these two.  The tone is different, the atmosphere is different, and the music is different.  Billy Joel and Elton John sit at their pianos and sing and play the piano for every single song.  Billy Joel even adds a harmonica to his performance during “Piano Man.”  (How many people can say they can play piano, the harmonica, and sing at the same time?)    They even have a regular team of musicians to back them up, and they make sure to introduce all of them.  (My claim to fame is that I sang “Piano Man” with Billy Joel’s saxophone player, Mark Rivera, last summer at a piano bar in New York City.  So I found it amazing to see him on stage with Billy Joel playing the saxophone to “Piano Man.”)   They do not need fancy choreography or impressive videos in the background.  Simply showing these two artists and sometimes (but rarely) a music video in the background is enough.

And how many artists today can say they had Top 10 hits in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and 33 Top 40 hits in the United States all together, like Billy Joel.  And how many artists can say they sold over 200 million records, had 7 straight #1 albums, 56 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10 singles, 4 #2 hits, and 9 #1 hits, like Elton John?  The success of these artists is phenomenal.  And to keep it up after so many years makes it even more astonishing.  Their fans are completely dedicated and take every opportunity to see them and support them (For example, I want to see them again next year if they are on tour again.)

Every generation connects to a certain type of music, no matter where they live in the country, or even world.  But how many artists can say they have impacted multiple generations?  My grandparents, parents, and my siblings all revere these artists.  Their concerts are sold out.  Their music is recognized by many.  And they are still loved and respected by all.

Michael Jackson: RIP June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009 was a sad day for the music industry and the entire world after the loss of Michael Jackson.  To lose such an inspirational artist at such a young age is such a tragedy, and he will be remembered by many generations to come.  It was truly amazing to see the entire world mourn this loss as vigils were held across the world.  His story is truly inspirational from the start of his career at age 5, to the hardships he faced as an adult immersed in the media, to his final moments in Los Angeles.  With a tour in London ahead, no one could have guessed that his days were numbered.

When I come home from work, I usually do not check the news.  However, when I was on Twitter, I found out about his heart attack and eventual death.  When TMZ reported it first, I did not completely believe it.  However, when the Los Angeles Times and New York Times followed TMZ?s reporting, I knew that it was the truth.  (I guess that is the last time I will question TMZ – congratulations to them for breaking the news!)  Even though I know Michael Jackson was a huge part of pop culture, it shocked me how much media attention he received from all outlets.  Even the Wall Street Journal, a financial newspaper, dedicated front page articles to his story.

Days later (which I am sure will continue into months and years later), he is still being covered by the news.  His passing has taken over the news and forced the world to forget about the other recent deaths of Billy Mays, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon.  Any station, newspaper, website, or other publication that is not covering his story is ignored.  Vigils across the world have included playing his music (every radio station and MTV played Jackson’s music over and over on Thursday), doing the moonwalk, and attention from political leaders.  President Obama even wrote a personal letter to the Jackson family sending his condolences.

Both Twitter and Google crashed during the time when everyone was unsure whether he was alive or dead.  Twitter users talking about MJ reached 15% compared to less than 5% for the Iran election (and as you may know, the Iran election was a hot topic for Twitter).  Google thought that it was being hacked into because so many users were searching for “Michael Jackson.”  Wikipedia even reported a crash because so many people were trying to find out the truth (I have to admit, I used all 3 websites and was lucky enough to not experience any problems even though TweetDeck temporarily stopped reporting new tweets.)

My predictions: Jackson’s album sales are going to tremendously increase, MTV will temporarily be more successful if they continue their tributes with music videos, and his funeral will be highly attended and well remembered.  The hardships Jackson faced throughout the past years are finally being forgotten and forgiven, but it is sad that he reached justice in such a tragic way.