The Essential Barry Manilow: Ranking His Top Twenty Songs

Barry Manilow has sold more than 80 million records worldwide since “Mandy” hit the charts 40 years ago, making him one of the biggest selling-artists ever, and even though he hasn’t had a Top Forty hit in over thirty years, his music will live on forever, thanks to the love and support of his “Fanilows.” Barry’s discography includes 25 Top Forty Hits (including 11 top ten and 3 #1’s) and 13 of those songs hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, making him one of the greatest AC artists of all time.

His time with Bette Midler (as her piano player) at the Continental Baths in New York City in the early 70’s is legendary, but did you know he wrote or performed some of the most iconic commercial jingles?

On his 71st birthday, let’s rank his top 20 songs. This isn’t the entire Barry Manilow collection, but it’s a good place to start The Essential Barry Manilow Collection.

20. THE OLD SONGS

YEAR: 1981
ALBUM: If I Should Love Again
CHART PEAK: #15

The first single from what Barry refers to as ’The most romantic album I’ve ever made.” It was his 11th #1 on the AC Chart.

19. SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT

YEAR: 1978
ALBUM: Even Now
CHART PEAK: #9

“Somewhere In The Night” was recorded by Helen Reddy, Yvonne Elliman and Kim Carnes before Barry took a turn and had the biggest hit with it, taking it into the top ten.

18. MEMORY

YEAR: 1982
ALBUM: Here Comes The Night
CHART PEAK: #39

Elaine Paige (who originated the role of Grizabella in the West End production of Cats) had the first hit version of this song, taking it into the UK top ten. On the Billboard chart, Barbra Streisand took it to #52, and Barry squeaked into the Top Forty in January 1983.

17. PARADISE CAFE

YEAR: 1984
ALBUM: 2 AM Paradise Cafe
CHART PEAK: N/A

Barry made a radical departure from his pop music with 1984’s 2 AM Paradise Cafe, which he says is the album he’d most like to be remembered for. The torch sound is wonderfully represented in the title track, which sounds as though it was recorded in a smoke-filled neon-blinking club.

16. SHIPS

YEAR: 1979
ALBUM: One Voice
CHART PEAK: #9

Barry’s 1979 release One Voice was his first not to go multi-platinum, but it did spin off the father/son lament “Ships” in to the top ten.

15. I MADE IT THROUGH THE RAIN

YEAR: 1980
ALBUM: Barry
CHART PEAK: #10

This is classic Barry, and unfortunately, also his final top ten hit on the Hot 100.

14. JUST ANOTHER NEW YEAR’S EVE

YEAR: 1977
ALBUM: Live!
CHART PEAK: N/A

Barry’s live release was his only album to hit #1 on the chart, and it did give us the greatest New Year’s standard since “Auld Lang Syne”

13. LET’S HANG ON

YEAR: 1981
ALBUM: If I Should Love Again
CHART PEAK: #32

The third single from If I Should Love Again, it was a spirited remake of The Four Seasons’ 60’s classic.

12. LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT

YEAR: 1977
ALBUM: This One’s For You
CHART PEAK: #1

Another Barry signature song, it was his final #1

11. IT’S A MIRACLE

YEAR: 1975
ALBUM: Manilow II
CHART PEAK: #12

“It’s A Miracle” was the follow-up to “Mandy,” and almost hit the top ten, peaking at #12. And it did give us this memorable moment from the late, lamented, wonderfully wicked GCB

10. SOME KIND OF FRIEND

YEAR: 1983
ALBUM: Here Comes The Night
CHART PEAK: #26

The highest-charting single from Here Comes The Night, it presented a much more modern sound from Barry, and should have scored higher on the chart.

9. CAN’T SMILE WITHOUT YOU

YEAR: 1977
ALBUM: Even Now
CHART PEAK: #3

Originally recorded by The Carpenters, Barry’s version was a huge hit, and is an all-time AC classic.

8. I WRITE THE SONGS

YEAR: 1975
ALBUM: Trying To Get The Feeling Again
CHART PEAK: #1

First recorded by Captain & Tenille and David Cassidy, Barry was reluctant to record the song (written by Bruce Johnston), afraid it would come off as a “monumental ego trip.” He needn’t have worried, as it became his second #1 smash, and won the Grammy for Song Of The Year.

7. MANDY

YEAR: 1974
ALBUM: Barry Manilow II
CHART PEAK: #1

The song that started Barry on his chart journey, it was a #1 smash on the Hot 100 and the AC chart.

6. WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND

YEAR: 1976
ALBUM: This One’s For You
CHART PEAK: #10

Another classic signature song, it was Barry as the consummate balladeer, lush and romantic.

5. COPACABANA

YEAR: 1978
ALBUM: Even Now
CHART PEAK: #8

Don’t fall in love! Barry’s story song of Lola, Rico, and Tony is one of his most beloved hits, and has been covered by, among others, Kylie Minogue. It won Barry his only Grammy for Male Pop Vocal Performance.

4. COULD IT BE MAGIC

YEAR: 1975
ALBUM: Barry Manilow
CHART PEAK: #6

Barry recorded this in 1973 but it wasn’t released as a single until two years later, when it became his second top ten song. Donna Summer would record her own disco version a few years later, and both versions are equally magical.

3. READ EM AND WEEP

YEAR: 1983
ALBUM: Gretest Hits, Volume II
CHART PEAK: #18

Jim Steinman wrote “Read Em And Weep” for Meatloaf’s 1981 album Dead Ringer, but it was Barry brought it to the top twenty in January 1984. It would be Barry’s final Top Forty hit.

2. THE LAST DUET

YEAR: 1980
ALBUM: Barry
CHART PEAK: N/A

Barry and the incomparable Lily Tomlin sing a disco duet. Need I say more? Okay, how about this: BEECHER AND SCHILLINGER performed it on Oz. What more do you need?

1. READY TO TAKE A CHANCE AGAIN

YEAR: 1978
ALBUM: Foul Play
CHART PEAK: #11

It wasn’t one of his biggest hits (it barely missed the top ten), but to me, this represents the ultimate Barry, a classic dramatic ballad with a great vocal performance. But for some reason it reminds me of a dwarf and an albino …

Okay, your turn! What is your Essential Barry Manilow?

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.
@therealsnicks