The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Billy Joel turns the lights back on with his new song

“Turn the Lights Back On” is an exciting and welcome return for the icon Billy Joel.

After over a decade, the already legendary career of the iconic “Piano Man” has grown even brighter.

Billy Joel released his newest song, “Turn the Lights Back On,” on Feb. 1, 2024. The event marks the first new track in 17 years by Joel, the artist behind classics like “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Uptown Girl.” Boasting phenomenal vocals and wonderful instrumentals, “Turn the Lights Back On” makes for a magnificent return for this celebrated artist.

Whether intentional or not, certain lyrics feel as though he is rebuilding the bridge between him and his listeners. Lines like, “Please open the door/Nothing is different, we’ve been here before” and, “I’m late, but I’m here right now” feel almost like a personal conversation. It sounds as though he is speaking directly to us, asking us to accept his music back into our lives. These lyrics beautifully match the touching mood driven by Joel’s comeback, bringing a profound sense of feeling into a song that was already bound to be emotional.

Joel delivers a moving vocal performance on this track. Singing with the same power and delicacy he brought to tunes from earlier in his career, his voice adds emotion to the lyrics, shifting throughout to match the feelings. Joel doesn’t shy away from the harder notes either, hitting them with awe-inspiring strength. While his voice has grown wiser and undoubtedly changed over the years, it is genuinely unbelievable to hear how beautiful it remains.

Furthermore, the arrangement and instrumentation of the track is simply spectacular. Beginning with Joel’s voice being accompanied solely by his classic and elegant piano, the tune masterfully creates a grand feeling as it progresses with more instruments joining in. The chorus is both catchy and enchanting, with the build-up to and climax at the second chorus being especially mesmerizing as Joel’s voice rises exquisitely to sing, “I’m late, but I’m here right now” with the complement of the striking instruments behind him.

However, as the tune approaches its end, Joel flips the script. He sings once again accompanied just by the piano, the song shifting to a softer feeling for the listener as he repeats, “I’m late, but I’m here right now.” It seems as though Joel is momentarily singing by himself. This intimate effect gives way as the rest of the instruments return and Joel changes his tone once again, quickly recreating the feeling of magnificence as he sings “to turn the lights back on” and enters a stunning finale that is the highlight of the song.

The track’s official video is similarly stirring. It features Joel sitting alone at his piano in an empty theater, with the image of the singer changing to how he looked at different ages and times throughout his life. It is a heartwarming effect to see younger versions of Joel singing the song, later masterfully mixed with clips of Joel’s life at the video’s end to create a celebratory finish. It makes the video carry a profound sense of emotion as it transforms from a simple video accompanying a heartfelt tune to an encompassing snapshot of the life of this treasured artist, perfectly matching the personal feeling of the song.

All in all, Joel’s soaring voice paired with the spectacular instruments and shifts in the track’s mood make for a spectacular listen. Joel has, once again, crafted a musical masterpiece. Nevertheless, he asks listeners if he still has what it takes throughout the song. But the answer couldn’t be clearer. It is a definite yes, and I can already envision darkened, sold-out stadiums turning into a sky of fireflies as the crowd waves tiny pinpricks of light coming from their phones and sing along with Joel when he performs “Turn the Lights Back On” live.

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