We Didn't Start The Music (It Was Always Playin')
  • Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018
Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire"

Not sure how many “10-Best of 2018” lists we’ll be reading in the days ahead.  Those convenient ways of jamming 365 days into a tiny capsule: Best Songs/Best Movies/Best TV Shows… and like a kid with bag of popcorn, I always eat ‘em all up.

This time around I decided to summarize the year in pop music in the form of a lyric.  Specifically, and with apologies to Billy Joel, I’ve attempted to put everything in the cadence and rhyme scheme of the brilliant “We Didn’t Start The Fire” from his 1989 Storm Front album.  I don’t know how Billy did it—for me it was like working out a 1,000 pc. jigsaw puzzle.  To refresh your memory, here’s the song:

Good luck following that tempo/rhyme thing…and mea culpa’s to all for the omissions, for there are dozens.

Drake, Gaga, Gucci Mane
The Chainsmokers, DJ Snake
Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Kendrick Lamar
Kane Brown, Post Malone
Nothing stopped the Rolling Stones
Lil Wayne, Lil Yachty & always Bruno Mars
Panic! At The Disco
The Weeknd, Migos
John Legend, Keith Urban, Adam Levine
Marshmello & Bastille
6ix9ine, Meek Mill
Diplo, Maren Morris and the best of Queen

We didn’t start the music
It was always playin’ 
While the world was changin’
We didn’t start the music
The beat kept goin’
And the words kept flowin’

This year took a toll
When we lost the Queen of Soul
Joe Jackson, Mac Miller, Marty Balin
Avicii, Vic Damone
Yvonne Staples, Charles Neville and Ms. O’Riordan
But new voices came on strong
Jorja Smith and Luke Combs
Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Greta Van Fleet
With other legends here to stay
Springsteen on Broadway
Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles on repeat

We didn’t start the music
The groove was always churnin’ 
As the world was turnin’
We didn’t start the music
The band was playing
And the bodies swaying

Panic! At The Disco
Where’d LMFAO go?
5 Seconds, 21 Pilots, Ms. Cabello
Imagine Dragons, Ella Mai
Ariana Grande
Pink, Sia, SZA too
There just ain’t no girls like you
Kanye’s in the West Wing
Willie’s on the road again
Billy’s in the Garden
As Jingle Bells start to ring
Sir Paul, Wham, Burl & Bing
And Mariah do their Christmas thing
The whole world begins to sing…


We didn’t start the music
It was always playin’ 
While the world was changin’
We didn’t start the music
The beat kept goin’
And the words kept flowin’
On and on and on and on…

Thank you. Thank you!  Please, sit down.  I’ve still got 2 more earphone stuffers to put under your cursor!  The first is an intense, weirdly uplifting pop-rock-electronic anthem called “Love It If We Made It” by the British band The 1975 from their album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.  

The next song is by “Americana” folk-rock singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile, who woke up on December 7th to discover that she’d been nominated for six (6) Grammy Awards!  This song, “Hold Out Your Hand,” is from her nominated album By The Way, I Forgive You.  

As someone closer to Billy Joel’s age, who grew up in an era of social unrest and protest, both of these songs remind me that voices still rise and songs still being written calling out to our better angels.  I wish you a happy, magical and peaceful holiday season.  And by all means, raise your voice!

About the author

Lyle Greenfield's picture

Lyle Greenfield is the founder of BANG Music and past president of the Association of Music Producers (AMP).  Greenfield has been a driving force behind the AMP Awards for Music and Sound, which debuted in New York City in 2013.

Contact Lyle via email

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