Olivia Rodrigo and Billy Joel Bridged the Generational Gap With the Power of Music

Olivia Rodrigo and Billy Joel perform "Deja Vu" and "Uptown Girl"
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Boomers and Zoomers put down their pitchforks targeted at each other and united within the walls of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when they were brought together in harmony by two patron saints of both respective generations. As Billy Joel made his way through his monthly concert at the arena, and teenagers dragged along to the event by their parents started to drift off into a haze of Instagram scrolling, the momentum suddenly changed when a familiar noise began to play on the speakers. Suddenly, in the middle of Joel’s concert, came the first bars of a song every Gen Z-er is required to know—“Deja Vu.” The phones were put down (or more likely, turned to face the stage, cameras on, ready to capture whatever was about to happen), as Joel announced a special guest.

“This is a very talented singer-songwriter,” Joel said. “She’s a triple Grammy winner...She’s got all kinds of awards, she’s very talented and I like her music and so do my kids. Please say hello to Olivia Rodrigo.” At that point, the arena erupted in screams, an octave higher than Joel is likely used to hearing at his MSG concerts.

Rodrigo appeared onstage in a very Rodrigo vintage punk look, wearing a black velvet Vivienne Westwood fall/winter 1991 corset with a yellow and orange tweed pleated skirt. The pair then broke into Rodrigo’s song, which she quipped she “couldn’t have written” without Joel, who played the piano while she sang.

The idea that Rodrigo introduced Joel to the younger generation with her song, “Deja Vu” can be debated. It’s sad to think some teens didn’t know of the Piano Man before hearing Rodrigo’s lyrics, “I'll bet that she knows Billy Joel/'Cause you played her ‘Uptown Girl,’” but that’s likely true in at least some cases. Well, it was either that or the resurgence of “Zanzibar” on TikTok last year when over 260,000 videos were made to the song. Either way, the shot of Rodrigo belting that line with Joel next to her is a joy to see for all ages, especially considering the look in the singer’s eyes that screams, “this is a career high.”

Fittingly, the duo followed up “Deja Vu” with none other than “Uptown Girl,” though no one professed their love for each other between the chorus and the verse, unfortunately. For that song, Joel emerged from behind the piano and joined Rodrigo on stage, trading verses, before coming together in a chorus of “ohs.”

It was truly a moment of generational solidarity. Maybe next month, Joel will show off a new TikTok dance for “Zanzibar.”