"The Entertainer" is a single by singer Billy Joel released as the only single from his 1974 album Streetlife Serenade. The song peaked at #34 on the US charts, a Top 40 hit for Joel that year. The song is a cynical and somewhat satirical look at the fleeting fame of a musician and fickle public tastes ("Today I am your champion / I may have won your hearts / But I know the game / You'll forget my name / And I won't be here / in another year / if I don't stay on the charts"); this theme would be examined in the later song "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me". Another verse in the song references the shortening of Joel's song, "Piano Man", from 5 minutes and 38 seconds to 3 minutes and 5 seconds to fit a radio slot, referenced by the lyrics "It was a beautiful song, / but it ran too long / If you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit / So they cut it down to 3:05." Additionally, the timing printed on the label of the 7" release of "The Entertainer" was 3:05, although the actual 45 length was 3:11 (while the album length was 3:41). In the single version, Verse 3 (which starts at 1:02 in the album version) is edited out, and Verse 2 (which starts at 0:40) contains a steel guitar in its second half, which is actually featured in the second half of the third verse in the album version; indeed, on the single mix, the instrumental crescendo of the album version is anticipated by bringing the fuller instrumentation of Verse 3 under the vocals of Verse 2. As a result of this, the slightly emptier original instrumentation of Verse 2 (which includes a downward slide on the synth) and the vocals of Verse 3 are completely omitted, while the instrumentation of Verse 3 (featuring the steel guitar) does appear, but earlier.
On some of the singles released for "The Entertainer" the song was b-sided with "The Mexican Connection".