On Wednesday night, Rodrigo surprised fans at Joel’s Madison Square Garden concert in New York City. Joel announced Rodrigo while her song “deja vu” twinkled in the background, saying, “I’m going to bring up another young musician. This is a very talented singer-songwriter [and] a triple Grammy winner.” He continued, “I like her music and so do my kids. Please say hello to Olivia Rodrigo!”
The crowd screamed in excitement as Rodrigo came out onstage, sporting a black corset top, a plaid yellow skirt, and black leather combat boots. The 19-year-old singer thanked Joel for inviting her to his show, saying she’s “such a huge fan.”
Rodrigo then performed her hit song “deja vu” with Joel on the keys. The song, which went viral last year in 2021 when Rodrigo released her album SOUR, references Joel in several lines, being “I’ll bet that she knows Billy Joel / ‘Cause you played her ‘Uptown Girl’” and “Play her piano but she doesn’t know / That I was the one who taught you Billy Joel.” As she sang the lines, she pointed and gestured at a smiling Joel.
The duo then sang Joel’s iconic 1983 song “Uptown Girl,” which Rodrigo references in “deja vu.” As the two sang and jammed out together, Rodrigo smiled and danced around onstage.
On her Instagram Story, Rodrigo fangirled over the experience, writing, “I SANG WITH BILLY JOEL AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN TODAY ARE U KIDDING.” In a selfie with the singer, Rodrigo wrote, “biggest honor ever still crying thank u Billy!!!!!!! 💘❤️🎸🤠💘🥰”
Rodrigo and Joel’s duo performance at his Madison Square Garden concert certainly isn’t the first time older, well-seasoned musicians have mentored and collaborated with younger singer-songwriters. Styles and Shania Twain performed together at Coachella 2022, and Styles famously sang and performed “Landslide” with Stevie Nicks in 2020. Since the pair met in 2015, the Fleetwood Mac star has become a friend and mentor for Styles, and she has even endearingly called him “the son [she] never had.”
More recently, Elton John and Dua Lipa collaborated on the song “Cold Heart” and have performed together on numerous occasions. The pair sang John’s hit classic “Bennie and the Jets” at an Oscars pre-party special to raise money for John’s AIDS Foundation, and she has called working with John one of the biggest “pinch-me moments in [her] life.”
Not only does older singers promoting and collaborating with younger singers help keep older singers relevant and in the spotlight, but it also helps younger singers get their start and gain a valued mentor. And these shared performances are always so heartwarming to watch onscreen, garnering the attention of older and younger generations alike.
So my question is, who will the next older and younger singer-songwriter duo be? Styles and Mick Jagger? Lizzo and Bruce Springsteen (random, I know, but hear me out)? Sabrina Carpenter and Madonna? Only time will tell.