According to an interview with Howard Stern, Joel had originally titled the song "Uptown Girls" and it was conceived on an occasion when he was surrounded by Christie Brinkley, Whitney Houston and his then girlfriend Elle Macpherson. According to numerous interviews with Joel, the song was initially written about his relationship with Macpherson, but it ended up also becoming about his soon to be wife, Brinkley (both women being two of the most famous supermodels of the 1980s). Joel also has said that the song was inspired by the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
In the music video, Billy Joel plays an auto mechanic who attempts to impress a high-class uptown girl, whose car has arrived at the auto shop/gas station for gas, with the help of three other mechanics.
Different versions of the music video opening were produced, in which an auto mechanic is watching the end of Joel's previous hit "Tell Her About It" on a small television. Then, depending on the version, the next image on the television is either a blank screen or the logo of the network or TV show the video was on.
"Uptown Girl" (re-released as double A-side with "Angels Wings" in 2002) was recorded by Irish boy bandWestlife for their third studio album, World of Our Own. It was released on March 6, 2001 as the first single from the album. It was also the 2001 Comic Relief charity single. The song was also released as the fifth single for the European Special Edition and Asian Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc of the group's second album, Coast to Coast (2000). The Westlife version is slightly shorter than the Billy Joel version because one of the verses was repeated in the Billy Joel version which was not repeated in the Westlife version. On May 12, 2018, the song was performed on South Korean music programme 'Immortal Songs 2' by Baek Hyeong-hun & Ki Se-jung. Band member Shane Filan was the featured 'Legend' and judged the participants. He also performed the song on his solo tours.
"Uptown Girl" reached number one in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It became the biggest selling single of 2001 and the tenth best-selling single of all-time in Ireland. In the United Kingdom, it was the sixth best selling single of 2001 and the 24th best-selling single of the decade in the UK charts, with sales of 756,215 copies. It became the band's biggest selling single (paid-for and combined sales categories) in the UK and also achieved the highest first week sales (292,318 copies) of any of their singles. It has since been certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry for shipments of 600,000 copies. As of March 2017, the song has sold almost 800,000 copies in the country from physical and digital copies which make up 81% of the total units. As of January 2019, it has 920,000 total sales. It is also their second most streamed song in the United Kingdom of all-time.
The video for this song was directed by Stuart Gosling, who previously directed the videos for Westlife's "What Makes a Man" and "I Lay My Love on You". It was shot in a Cafe/Diner setting, called Blondie's, with the members of Westlife working there as busboys. Claudia Schiffer starred as the title character, while Robert Bathurst, James Wilby, Ioan Gruffudd, Crispin Bonham-Carter and Tim McInnerny were featured as high class customers. The video starts with Shane Filan taking the orders of the five customers while Mark Feehily passes by. One of the customers starts the Jukebox and the song starts. The video ends with Claudia Schiffer leaving the Cafe to which the band members and several other customers followed her while the Cafe closes leaving the five customers at the cafe. The single was also released as a video album and certified as Platinum by BPI in UK.