Billy Joel is making a comeback with his initial solo song in over a decade, and just his second one since 1993.
The song “Turn the Lights Back On” is set to debut on February 1st, and will be available for streaming and as a 7-inch vinyl record. It was written by Joel and produced by Freddy Wexler, a prominent figure in mainstream pop who has worked with artists like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Selena Gomez. Two other collaborators on the song are British pop mainstay Wayne Hector, known for writing numerous No. 1 singles for Westlife, JLS, and others.
Last month, Joel shared a video on his TikTok account where he gave a sneak peek of his new song during a performance. He mentioned that they were currently working on it and hinted that it might be released sometime soon. The promotional materials for Joel’s upcoming single suggest that it will mark the beginning of a new phase in his musical journey and could possibly hint at more new music to come.
Joel’s upbeat and uncool brand of pop-rock has captivated the general public since he first gained recognition in the early 1970s. He has sold over 160 million records globally, thanks to popular songs like “Uptown Girl” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, and has achieved four number one albums on the US charts.
After achieving success on the US charts with “River of Dreams” in 1993, he retired from songwriting. In a later statement, he revealed that he felt he couldn’t reach the level of excellence he desired. He constantly strived for growth in his work, but eventually came to the realization that he could only reach a certain level of quality. This led him to stop songwriting altogether. He has since occasionally had other artists cover his songs, but has only released one new solo single, “All My Life,” in 2007.
Despite facing moments of uncertainty, Joel has remained dedicated to touring and performing. In 2010, he even contemplated quitting, but ultimately decided to continue. In a 2018 interview with Vulture, he shared that he has adjusted his setlist to accommodate his age and changes in his voice. He acknowledged that it can be challenging to hit the high notes in songs he wrote in his younger years, but has made adjustments to make it work.
In 2023, a concert in London’s Hyde Park received a four-star review from the Guardian. The review described the performer as a “precise and skilled entertainer” who expertly recreates the music of his younger days, including Motown, doo-wop, and Tin Pan Alley.
In July, he will complete his extended stay at Madison Square Garden in New York, concluding with his 150th performance in the monthly series. His other upcoming shows this year feature co-headlining performances with Stevie Nicks and Sting, separately.