And I think I've done it! I think I've identified the qualities in B.J.'s work that distinguish his badness from other kinds of badness: It exhibits unearned contempt. Both a self-righteous contempt for others and the self-approbation and self-congratulation that is contempt's backside, so to speak. Most frequently a contempt for the supposed phoniness or inauthenticity of other people as opposed to the rock-solid authenticity of our B.J.
I grew up with my parents record collection in the 1970s. My mother was a big fan of Elton John, Niel Diamond, Barry Manilow, John Denver and Billy Joel.
Elton John, I get. He's an icon. I can't stand his soundtracks and tacky crap that began in the 80s. But it's hard to argue with "Rocket Man."
Neil Diamond. Only a ignorant fool would argue that Neil Diamond doesn't deserve some props. He's done it all. Jewish Elvis. Heartthrob. Movie star. His songs are anthems to a pop cultural AM radio history of the 60s and 70s.
Barry Manilow (I don't get him). He's at least comfortable in his schlock and rayon puffy shirts, though. He's a swarmy, less hip version of Tom Jones. Ok, some of us girls like that kind of thing.
John Denver was one of the greatest song writers of his generation. At least the man was humble.
Billy Joel........Ugh! I cannot fucking tolerate Billy Joel. Why? Why? Please, somebody defend BJ so I can spit in your eye! From that dumb album cover for "Glass Houses" to his horrible video for "Uptown Girl," BJ is pop music's fingers on a blackboard.