Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"Modern Woman" by Billy Joel

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2754
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  10
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Joel had been churning out albums nearly every year since 1971, so it was only right that he took a little break after the success of his multi-platinum album An Innocent Man. He would return three years later with his tenth studio album The Bridge. The eclectic collection showcased a variety of styles (pop, R&B, jazz, new wave) along with a list of guests including Ray Charles and Cyndi Lauper. It even featured this movie soundtrack tune. Selected for use in the black comedy Ruthless People, the song would serve as the first single from Joel's album and from the film's soundtrack. The track made its way up the Pop chart and was able to just barely scrape the Top 10. It also did well at AC getting to #7 while making it to #34 at Rock. It was Joel's ninth Pop Top 10. Although it performed well, the single wasn't a huge hit and that seemed to curtail album sales a bit. The LP would stall at #7 and eventually go double-platinum, which was the same results as his 1982 "serious" album The Nylon Curtain. It was a definite drop in sales as compared to An Innocent Man. That album had already sold over 4 million copies by the time The Bridge was released and would go on to sell another 3 million. The soundtrack to Ruthless People would do well making it to #20 and going gold.

ReduxReviewThe Bridge was a strange, inconsistent album. It was as if Joel just wanted to mess around and record whatever kind of cool idea he thought he had. While the songs aren't all that bad, they aren't all that great either. This kooky track is certainly one of Joel's actual hits that has long been forgotten. After a while it seemed Joel wanted to forget it too as it has been left off of most of his hits collections in favor of other lower charting songs. The cheezy synths remind me of the Seinfield theme song and the sax sounds like a poor attempt to infringe on Huey Lewis territory. Joel was an artist who typically had songs with some substance, but this one was pure cotton candy fluff. I certainly don't mind some of the sticky stuff once in a while, but it has to be something I wanna ruin my diet for and this song just wasn't it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

TriviaThe Bridge contained the jazzy big band-style track "Big Man on Mulberry Street." That song would be featured in an episode of the hit TV show Moonlighting. The song would not only be in the show, but it would also serve as the episode's title. The episode contained a dream sequence that featured an extended dance routine to this song between Bruce Willis and actress/dancer Sandahl Bergman.



  1. 7/10 for me based on the enjoyability factor, I love Billy Joel but I agree it was not one of his best efforts although I can't help but enjoy listening to this song, it's a song I would enjoy listening to on my 80's Hits Playlist but not the kind of song I would go out of my way to listen to.

    1. It actually fit the film well, but on its own it just didn't stand up to repeated listens for me. Apparently, Joel ended up hating the song and stopped playing it in concert.

    2. I guess that's the reason why this song fell into obscurity despite it barely reaching the Top 10, I still haven't seen "Ruthless People", is that movie any good?

    3. I thought it was a fun movie. Bette Midler is great in it. A worthwhile watch.

  2. Any song that includes the year of its release in the lyrics will automatically become dated very fast. Yes, that also applies to Heat of the Moment.

    1. True. But Heat of the Moment I can forgive a bit because "you find yourself in '82" can be a reference to time travel - yeah, a stretch, but hey - it's prog rock...