‘ Fyre Fest in updated ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’

Billy Joel in his
Billy Joel in his “We Didn’t Start the Fire” video, 1989. (Photo: YouTube)

“What else do I have to say?” Billy Joel rhetorically asked in one of his biggest hits, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which in its four minutes and six seconds managed to chronologically cram in references to 118 significant political, cultural, scientific, and sporting events that took place between 1949 (the year of the singer-songwriter’s birth) and 1989 (the year of the No. 1 single’s release). The edutainment classic climaxed with a quickly dated reference to the Coke-vs.-Pepsi “cola wars,” so obviously, there’s been plenty more to say since then.

And Fall Out Boy figured they should be the ones to say it — in a new version that picks up where Joel left off.

“I thought about [Joel’s] song a lot when I was younger,” Fall Out Boy bassist Peter Wentz explained in a statement Wednesday. “All these important people and events — some that disappeared into the sands of time — others that changed the world forever. So much has happened in the span of the last 34 years — we felt like a little system update might be fun.”

Fall Out Boy’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” remakes Joel’s Boomer-centric song with millennial/Gen Z-targeted lyrics about notable pop-culture events that took place between 1989 and 2023. Just as Joel’s original dramatically mentioned arguably the defining tragic news story of his generation, the assassination of JFK, FOB’s sequel of sorts ends with “World Trade, second plane” — a reference to their generation’s biggest front-page-news tragedy, 9/11.

FOB’s version covers other heavy news (the Rodney King L.A. riots, the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings, Columbine, Sandy Hook, George Floyd, Brexit, Trump), as well as various music scandals (Woodstock ’99, Kanye-vs.-Taylor, Fyre Fest) and random tabloid headliner-makers (John Bobbit, Balloon Boy, Meghan Markle, Tiger King). There are even a couple of nods to FOB’s pop/punk peers: My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade and Blink-182 singer “Tom DeLonge and aliens.”

Clocking in at a full 34 seconds shorter than Joel’s recording, Fall Out Boy’s remake (which — side note — should have been brilliantly titled “We Didn’t Start the Fyre”) certainly doesn’t encompass everything that has transpired in the past 34 years. For instance, while it references the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, and Prince, the late David Bowie is oddly overlooked. And there’s bafflingly zero mention of Bill or Hillary Clinton or of this century’s other most defining tragedy, the COVID-19 pandemic. But the band still covers a lot of ground — which is impressive, considering how much the news cycle has accelerated in the internet age, going “on and on and on and on” indeed. It’ll be fascinating to see which future world events are listed in the inevitable next remake, three decades from now.

Compare and contrast to Billy Joel’s version, and read all of Fall Out Boy’s new “We Didn’t Start the Fire” lyrics, below.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire 2023”

Captain Planet

Arab Spring

L.A. Riots Rodney King

Deep fakes


Iceland volcano

Oklahoma City bomb

Kurt Cobain


Tiger Woods


Monsanto GMOs

Harry Potter


Michael Jackson dies

Nuclear accident Fukushima Japan

Crimean peninsula

Cambridge analytica

Kim Jong Un

Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No we didn’t light it but we’re trying to fight it

More war in Afghanistan

Cubs go all the way again



Explosion Lebanon


Bobbit, John

Bombing Boston Marathon

Balloon Boy

War on Terror


Trump gets impeached twice

Polar bears got no ice

Fyre Fest

Black Parade

Michael Phelps


Boris Johnson


Kanye West

Taylor Swift

Stranger Things

Tiger King

Ever Given Suez

Sandy Hook


Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice


LeBron James

Shinzo Abe blown away

Meghan Markle

George Floyd

Burj Khalifa


Fermi paradox

Venus and Serena

Michael Jordan 23

YouTube killed MTV


Golden State Killer caught

Michael Jordan 45

Woodstock ‘99

Keaton Batman

Bush v. Gore

I can’t take it anymore

Elon Musk


Texas failed electric grid

Jeff Bezos

Climate change

White rhino goes extinct

Great pacific garbage patch

Tom DeLonge and aliens

Mars Rover


Self-driving electric cars


Prince and the Queen die

World Trade

Second plane

What else do I have to say?

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on, and on, and on

And on, and on, and on, and on, and on

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