Who Sang It: Elton John or Billy Joel?


By: Brittany Rowland

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by CBS Television / Rob Mieremet, Anefo

About This Quiz

Billy Joel and Elton John are often paired together — and in fact, they sometimes tour together — for good reason. They're both famed singer-songwriters who rose to prominence in the 1970s. They both tell stories with their songs, often autobiographical stories. And they both know how to pound out a song on the piano. Watching Billy Joel and Elton John play two pianos facing each other on stage calls to mind the piano battle between Daffy Duck and Donald Duck in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" — because it's that intense!

Indeed, one of the most noticeable differences between the two singers is their nationalities. Elton John was born in England, while Billy Joel hails from the Bronx. Still, both artists took piano lessons from an early age, and both left school to pursue a career in music. While Joel recorded a number of classics in the early '70s, including "Piano Man" and "New York State of Mind," his breakout success was the 1977 album "The Stranger." Meanwhile, Elton John teamed up with lyricist Bernie Taupin in 1967 and the two had their first hit single with "Your Song" in 1970.

See how well you know your Joel and John ballads. Pour a bottle of red, bottle of white ... or try to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine, and remember all your favorite songs by these two rock legends.

"We Didn't Start the Fire" gave listeners a history lesson! Who sang it?

"We Didn't Start the Fire" famously alludes to over 100 historical events from Billy Joel's lifetime, from Harry Truman's election to "rock-and-roller cola wars" in the late 1980s.


"Bennie and the Jets" is a song by which artist?

"Bennie and the Jets" appeared on "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and is one of Elton John's most recognizable tunes. Funnily enough, Elton John was reluctant to release it as a single, thinking it wouldn't succeed.


Who sang this song: "She's Always a Woman"?

Billy Joel wrote "She's Always a Woman" about his first wife, Elizabeth Weber, who also served as his manager until their divorce. The song describes his love for her, flaws and all.


Is it lonely up in space? And do you remember which artist sings "Rocket Man"?

One of Elton John's most recognizable hits, "Rocket Man" appeared on his 1972 album "Honky Chateau." The song describes a lonely astronaut's mixed feelings about his space travels.


Can you name the singer who sang "Only the Good Die Young"?

"Only the Good Die Young" stirred up some controversy because of its subject matter — a boy trying to convince a Catholic girl to lose her virginity to him. But the song became a hit regardless.


Who's the singer who rocks out to "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"?

Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" was one of the top hits of 1980. The song, which appeared on the album "Glass Houses," explores the idea that public taste in music changes over time.


"Sing us a song, you're the piano man!" Who sang "Piano Man"?

Go into any bar and start playing this song; the odds are good others will join in! In Billy Joel's 1973 song "Piano Man," he describes the real-life people he met as a lounge musician.


"Levon" is a song by which artist?

According to Elton John's record producer, "Levon" likely got its name from Levon Helm, the drummer from the Band. However, the lyricist, Bernie Taupin, disputes this idea and says the name was random.


Can you name the artist who croons "New York State of Mind"?

"New York State of Mind," from the 1976 album "Turnstiles," wasn't a single, but it quickly became a fan favorite. Billy Joel famously played it at a benefit concert following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


Do you know who sang "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"?

Elton John released "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" in 1973 on the album of the same name. The nostalgic soft rock song is one of John's best and contains imagery from "The Wizard of Oz."


"Tiny Dancer" is by which musician?

"Tiny Dancer" was a single from Elton John's album "Madman Across the Water." It was popularized again when director Cameron Crowe used it in a pivotal scene in his movie "Almost Famous."


Who sang it: "Daniel"?

According to Bernie Taupin, "Daniel" was about the servicemen returning home from the Vietnam War and trying to regain a sense of normalcy. The song climbed the charts in both the UK and the US in 1973.


Do you remember who released "Crocodile Rock"?

The 1972 song "Crocodile Rock" pays tribute to the early rock songs of the 1950s and '60s, like "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. It was John's first number-one single in the US.


Time to wave your lighter for "Candle in the Wind." Who sang it?

"Candle in the Wind" famously pays tribute to Marilyn Monroe, referred to by her real name, Norma Jean, in the song. When his friend Princess Diana died in 1997, Elton John sang a new version of the song for her.


Who plaintively sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"?

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" first appeared on the album "Caribou." A decade later, Elton John and George Michael performed it together at a Live Aid concert, making the song a hit again.


Which singer tickles the ivories on "Honky Cat"?

Elton John released "Honky Cat" on his 1972 album "Honky Chateau." The song soon became a hit on both sides of the pond, particularly in the US. It's well known for John's funky piano playing.


If you remember Brenda and Eddie, can you name the singer of "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"?

At over seven minutes long, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" is nevertheless one of Billy Joel's biggest hits. It fuses three sections into one song, including the story of high-school sweethearts.


Do you remember who sang "A Matter of Trust"?

"A Matter of Trust" has a harder edge to it than most other Billy Joel songs, making use of the electric guitar. The music video has cameos by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Joel's wife and baby.


Which singer sang the melancholy "And So It Goes"?

Billy Joel wrote the somber "And So It Goes" about his failed relationship with Elle Macpherson. The song lends itself to choir renditions because of its hymn-like melody and style.


Can you name the singer of "Movin' Out"?

"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" was on Billy Joel's 1977 album "The Stranger." The song explores the extremes working-class families in New York go to to climb the ladder socially and economically.


Who sang the catchy "Prelude/Angry Young Man"?

Billy Joel usually plays "Prelude/Angry Young Man" early in his concerts because the rapid-fire piano playing requires a lot of energy. The second part of the song describes a rebellious, stubborn youth.


"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" according to which artist?

The first single from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" describes the teenage scene in Great Britain, including raucous partying and fistfights, of course.


If you remember "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," can you tell us who sang it?

"Someone Saved My Life Tonight" was the only single from Elton John's album "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy." The song is personal for John because it describes a suicide attempt.


We'd be "lion" if we said we didn't love "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Who sang it?

Elton John composed the music and Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for this famous love song from "The Lion King." It racked up awards, too, including an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1995!


Do you know who sang "Just the Way You Are"?

Billy Joel was reluctant to include "Just the Way You Are" on his album "The Stranger," but Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow asked him to. He also stopped performing it in the period following his divorce.


"Say Goodbye to Hollywood" is a memorable song by which singer?

Billy Joel's 1976 album "Turnstiles" includes the song "Say Goodbye to Hollywood." After living in Los Angeles for a time, Joel decided to return to New York City. We guess he was in a New York state of mind.


Do you know which singer crooned "I Want Love"?

"I Want Love" is one of Elton John's more recent songs, released in 2001 on "Songs from the West Coast." The memorable music video features Robert Downey Jr. lip-syncing to the lyrics.


"Summer, Highland Falls" is a song by which artist?

"It's either sadness or euphoria," sings Billy Joel in "Summer, Highland Falls," one of his favorite songs he's written. The song appears on "Turnstiles" and reflects a period of his life in NYC.


"The Ballad of Billy the Kid" told the story of an infamous outlaw. Who sang it?

"The Ballad of Billy the Kid" appeared on Billy Joel's album "Piano Man." Despite its rousing instrumentation and singing, Billy Joel has admitted that he fictionalized Billy the Kid's story.


"Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" starts out with some powerful organ playing. Who sang it?

The bombastic "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" opens Elton John's album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." The song combines a mournful piece fit for a funeral and a bitter breakup song.


Which singer got a little countrified for "Country Comfort"?

Elton John's third album, "Tumbleweed Connection," was a concept album that blended country and western styles. "Country Comfort," with its catchy chorus, was a hit in both the US and the UK.


Which singer sang about "Vienna"?

"Vienna" is one of Billy Joel's favorite songs in his repertoire, and it notably appears in both an episode of "Taxi" and the movie "13 Going on 30." The song advocates slowing down and savoring life more.


Can you tell us who sang "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters"?

Elton John has called "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" one of his favorite songs of his. He performed the song as a tribute to the first responders at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks.


Sounds like someone needs directions in "Where to Now St. Peter?" Who sang it?

Elton John explored country and Americana themes in the underrated "Tumbleweed Connection," his third studio album. In "Where to Now St. Peter?" a dying soldier ponders his final destination in the afterlife.


Which singer sang "Why Should I Worry?" for a Disney film?

Billy Joel voiced Dodger, a mutt with "street savoir-faire," in Disney's 1988 film "Oliver & Company." The pooch even dons some sunglasses like Joel's and plays a piano with his tail!


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