First Hit #1: December 9, 1989
Recently, the schlockmeisters behind films such as Date Movie released a trailer for their newest film. Like their previous films, it does not contain jokes really, but references to pop culture, assuming that simply acknowledging their existence is, in itself, a joke.
We Didn’t Start the Fire is the serious version of that. The song is a rapid-fire list of world events and famous names, presented wholly without context on the assumption that if you recognize them, you’ll get his point. The chorus, which punctuates the song, gives a further clue, as the song is about the relentless march of time. Of course, it’s about the march of Joel’s time, starting with his birth and ending with the writing of this song, becoming a highly personal song about things that didn’t happen to him. But, given the complete lack of context, the song relies on the listener’s knowledge to give it significance, which is a trusting move by Joel but it also means it starts to get increasingly irrelevant as it gets older. For instance, the reference to the cola wars, something that isn’t going to hit for audiences over 20 years later. The reference is meaningless, it’s the context that matters.
At least Joel is technically able, which is a lot more than can be said for the “Movie Movie” guys.