Monday, December 29, 2008

Sing us a song, you're the piano man!

I don't know why exactly but I've been thinking, ruminating even, about Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds, and their key influences, Billy Joel and Gilbert O' Sullivan.

Something bothers me. I think it's rock n' roll's use of piano. No matter how hard one tries, there's always the Elton John-esque aspect of piano in rock. And shouldn't Elton John be avoided at all costs? Oh, yes. Elton John is a zero album artist.

But Billy Joel is good, isn't he? Yes, he is, despite the ubiquity of 'Uptown Girl' which is best avoided. But his pre-'Uptown Girl' work is fine stuff.

Ben Folds is usually acknowledged as being a Billy Joel copyist, but I find that there's a lot more sarcasm and 1990s irony in his warblings. 'Underground' is a class song, with a piano that ensures the hipsters it attacks will never listen to it. I think a two album limit is fine for Ben Folds including solo and his work as part of Ben Folds Five.

Rufus Wainwright is slightly jarring. He has this ├╝ber-boho image that seems part Freddie Mercury (opera-buff working in the rock paradigm, clever clogs) and part Bowie (un-rock rock music, folksy at times) while being just very hippy without being a hipster about it. I don't put any kind of limit on Wainwright apart from the back-catalogue rule.

Gilbert O' Sullivan, one album, the one with 'Alone Again Naturally' if any. I don't think he's essential, just nice to know his work exists.

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