Best Beats: A Comenian Playlist

The album art for the featured album by the Cars.

The album art for the featured album by the Cars.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel (1989)

One of my all-time favorite Billy Joel songs is “We Didn’t Start the Fire” from his 1989 album Storm Front. From the time I was small, I would shout the (totally wrong) lyrics from the top of my lungs each time the song came on the radio. I’ll admit I still do the same as an adult, but with a song this catchy, it’s hard not to. 

Joel’s third No. 1 Billboard hit has lyrics that refer to dozens of historical events and people, primarily from the ‘40s-‘80s, including JFK’s assassination, the dropping of the H-Bomb, and Ernest Hemingway’s suicide. The song doesn’t tell much of a story, but rather highlights positive and negative events throughout history (119 in total) by listing them off with an accompanying beat. It’s the closest to rap you can get with Billy Joel. 

When it comes to his inspiration for the song, Joel cites an instance in a recording studio when he met Sean Lennon. Lennon reportedly said to Joel, “You were a kid in the fifties and everybody knows that nothing happened in the fifties.” Joel, a self-proclaimed history nut, replied, “Wait a minute, didn’t you hear of the Korean War or the Suez Canal Crisis?” A song chronicling nearly half a century of history came as a result. 

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a great blend of roll-down-the-windows music and historical awareness. If you like the ‘80s, this song will definitely become a staple on your playlist in no time. 

-Christine Wieder

The Cars, The Cars (1978)

Nothing fits quite like summer driving music as The Cars. A new-wave rock band mostly known for their catchy and upbeat songs from the ‘70s and the ‘80s, they have become one of those bands that you know quite a lot of songs from and feel nostalgic without even knowing you’re listening to them. 

One of their most successful and most well-known albums is their debut self-titled album. The album The Cars has iconic songs from the group such as “Just What I Needed,” a fun song about a man who can’t help the feelings he has for a girl. He tells her that he “doesn’t mind her wasting all [his] time” or “hanging out and talking in her sleep.” He doesn’t realize just how attached he is to this girl, but is okay with her imposing on his life. The singer, Rick Ocasek, gives a sarcastic chorus about realistic troubles in relationships, like saying that he is happy to take care of her and go through the trouble with her because he’s so infatuated with her. 

Another popular song on the album is “My Best Friend’s Girl.” It chronicles a man’s struggle after his best friend starts dating his ex-girlfriend that he may or may not still have feelings for. Relatable struggle, is it not?

Overall, The Cars have cemented themselves as one of the most popular rock bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s and have created a unique sound all their own. They are a fan favorite amongst those who listen to them and have persisted as unique in the rock genre as the years have passed, showing just how creative they were right from the beginning. 

– Elizabeth Horn

Listen to a complete playlist of all of the Comenian’s best beats here.