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Billy Joel Blasts Back Onto Adult Contemporary Chart With ‘Turn the Lights Back On’

today02/02/2024

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Billy Joel’s “Turn the Lights Back On” bounds onto Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart (dated Feb. 10) at No. 11. The song – his first single release in 17 years – marks his first entry on the survey since 1998.

Making Joel’s chart return even more striking, the ballad debuts from just its first day of airplay, following its release at 7 a.m. ET Thursday (Feb. 1), on Columbia Records. Concentrated play on iHeartMedia-owned radio stations, including WLTW New York and KOST Los Angeles, as well as Cumulus Media outlets, drove the song’s start at the format.

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“Lights” is the first Joel recording to place on Adult Contemporary since the list dated March 7, 1998, the last week on the chart for his No. 13-peaking cover of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King-penned “Hey Girl” (which previously became a hit for Freddie Scott, in 1963, and Donny Osmond, in 1971). Joel last notched a top 10 on the tally in August-September 1997, when his version of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” hit No. 9, becoming his 23rd top 10.

Joel first reached the chart with his breakthrough classic “Piano Man,” which hit No. 4 in April 1974.

“Lights,” meanwhile, marks Joel’s highest debut on the ranking, besting the No. 23 bow of “To Make You Feel My Love.”

Notably, Joel, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, appeared as a writer on Adult Contemporary amid his nearly 26-year break from the chart as a recording artist: Fall Out Boy’s cover of his “We Didn’t Start the Fire” rose to No. 16 in December. (Joel’s original hit No. 5 in 1989.)

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“Lights” was written by Joel, Arthur Bacon, Wayne Hector and Freddy Wexler.

“The melody, the chords, the chord progression, even the time signature was something that struck me immediately, and that’s how I relate to music,” Joel said of his reaction to what Wexler was working on. “This particular lyric in this song, I’ve had these thoughts, I could have written these lyrics verbatim. I’ve chewed on these words and I’ve thought of these words, and I’ve said these words before. It was all kind of falling into place – and who am I to fight that?”

All charts dated Feb. 10 will update on Billboard Tuesday, Feb. 5.

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