Uptown Girl (3:37)

Cover of Piano Man

From Piano Man and 76 other releases

“Uptown Girl” is a song performed by musician Billy Joel, whose lyrics deal with a working-class “downtown man” attempting to woo a wealthy “uptown girl”.

According to the Uptown Girl Songfacts, Joel explained to Howard Stern that he was on vacation in the Caribbean when he was playing the piano, looked up, and saw Elle McPherson, Christie Brinkley and Whitney Houston (who was more a model than a musician at that point) standing over his piano in wonderment watching him play. Joel thanked his creator for his good fortune, and began dating Elle. His first attempt at the song had the lyrics, “Uptown girls, I’ve been around the world.” The music was more of a classical piece when it started.

The song was first released in 1983 on his album An Innocent Man. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts in the US, and #1 in the UK; in 1988, Rolling Stone ranked “Uptown Girl” #99 on their list of the 100 most important singles of the period 1963-1988. The style of music, including the doo-wop beat, the close harmonies and Joel’s frequent use of falsetto singing, is reminiscent of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The song also has the uncommon feature of changing key from the original two times before giving back, for a total of three keys.

Covers of this song have been performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Aaron Carter, Weezer and most notably in 2001 by Irish boy band Westlife, again reaching #1 in the UK, though this time for only one week, whereas Joel’s version spent five weeks at the top of the charts.

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