Top 10 Barry Manilow Songs

Barry Manilow performing on NBC
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Barry Manilow is one of the top 100 pop recording artists of all time. He never intended to be a singer, but he wanted his songs to be heard. Bell Records liked Barry Manilow singing his own songs and released his first album. Later Bell was merged into the newly formed Arista under Clive Davis. Barry Manilow was reluctant to record the song "Mandy," but with the insistence of Clive Davis, it was included on the second album and became Barry Manilow's first #1 pop hit. The rest, as they say, is history. These are Barry Manilow's 10 best pop songs ranked subjectively.

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"I Write the Songs" - 1975

Although some music fans are occasionally confused about its origins, Barry Manilow did not write "I Write the Songs." Rather, it was written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. The first recorded version was released by the Captain and Tennille who frequently worked with Bruce Johnston. They included it on their breakthrough 1975 album Love Will Keep Us Together. David Cassidy had a minor hit with the song in the UK before Barry Manilow's version. Once again Clive Davis had to convince the artist to record what became another #1 hit single. Barry Manilow thought the song might be misinterpreted by audiences as a massive ego trip. It was the first single from the album Tryin' To Get the Feeling and topped both the pop and adult contemporary charts.

"I Write the Songs" was Barry Manilow's second recording to earn a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year. It won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year which went to Bruce Johnston as the songwriter. Bruce Johnston says that some believe that he was referring to the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson as the "I" in the song. He says that in reality he was referring to God and the spirit of creativity as the writer of the songs.

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"Mandy" - 1974

"Mandy" was originally titled "Brandy" and as such hit #12 on the UK pop singles chart in 1971 in a version recorded by one of the song's writers, Scott English. The other co-writer Richard Kerr worked on multiple songs that became hits for Barry Manilow including the #1 smash "Looks Like We Made It." 

Barry Manilow did not want to record "Brandy," but Clive Davis convinced him to do so. The name was changed to "Mandy" to avoid confusion with the hit "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by the group Looking Glass. It was released as the first single from Barry Manilow's second studio album Barry Manilow II after the first album failed to produce any hit singles. The result was Barry Manilow's first #1 pop hit.

"Mandy" was Barry Manilow's first record and the first released on the label Arista to reach the Billboard Hot 100. "Mandy" also received Barry Manilow's first Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year. In 2003, the Irish boy band Westlife covered "Mandy" and it went to #1 on the UK pop singles chart.

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"Can't Smile Without You" - 1978

The Carpenters recorded a version of "Can't Smile Without You" a year before Barry Manilow's iconic #3 pop hit. It was included on the album A Kind of Hush and they released it as the B-side for their single "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft."

Chris Arnold, David Martin, and Geoff Morrow, the writers of "Can't Smile Without You," have recorded under the name Butterscotch. "Can't Smile Without You" is frequently the subject of a massive crowd singalong at Barry Manilow concerts. Barry Manilow included it on his album Even Now. The song reached #3 on the pop singles chart in the US and #1 on the adult contemporary chart.

Dick James Music, the publishing company for "Can't Smile Without You" sued George Michael for plagiarism in the mid-1980s claiming that the Wham! song "Last Christmas" took its melody from this song. The case was settled out of court.

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"Copacabana" - 1978

Barry Manilow won his first and (so far) his only Best Pop Male Vocal Grammy Award for "Copacabana (At the Copa)." The clear story line and characters in the song became the centerpiece of a TV musical that was later adapted for the stage. Barry Manilow and his lyricists Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman were inspired to write the song by Barry Manilow's memories of the Copacabana night club in New York City that he visited in the 1960s. "Copacabana" was included as music in the hit 1978 film Foul Play and also appears on Barry Manilow's album Even Now. "Copacabana" reached #8 on the pop chart and #6 on the adult contemporary chart.

Barry Manilow released a Spanish-language version of "Copacabana" but it failed to reach any charts. A remix of the original song hit the UK pop singles chart in 1993 and peaked at #22. In 2008, Barry Manilow recorded an acoustic version of the song for his album The Greatest Songs of the Seventies.

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"Looks Like We Made It" - 1977

"Looks Like We Made It" became Barry Manilow's third and seemingly final #1 pop hit single. It is a bittersweet love song about a couple finding happiness and fulfillment with others after breaking up. However, the song expresses doubts about the reality of that happiness. Songwriter Will Jennings told Billboard Books, "It is a rather sad and ironic lyric about making it apart and not together, and of course everyone thinks it is a full on, positive statement. I don't know. Perhaps it is... in a way." "Looks Like We Made It" was one of three top 10 pop hits from the album This One's For You and represents Barry Manilow at the peak of his commercial and artistic success. The album This One's For You went to #6 on the album chart and was certified triple platinum for sales. It immediately preceded Barry Manilow's first #1 album, the two album set Barry Manilow Live.

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"Ships" - 1979

Ian Hunter, lead vocalist of the classic rock band Mott the Hoople, wrote and recorded "Ships" for his 1979 album You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic. It was written about his relationship with his own father. Ian Hunter began writing the song while he was still part of the group Mott the Hoople in the early 1970s, but it wasn't recorded until he became a solo artist. 

Barry Manilow liked the song when he heard it and took his version to the pop top 10. It was the only top 10 pop hit from Barry Manilow's album One Voice and marked the beginning of the artist's commercial decline in the late 1970s. It was Barry Manilow's last studio album to reach the top 10 until The Greatest Songs of the Fifties 27 years later. "Ships" reached #9 on the pop chart and #4 on the adult contemporary chart. Ian Hunter commented on Barry Manilow's version saying, "That guy's no slouch when it comes to arranging."

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"Weekend In New England" - 1976

Barry Manilow topped the adult contemporary chart with this ballad about falling in love on a trip to New England and returning to the city wondering "when will I see you again?" The song gained a bit of notoriety when it was the song performed by Jennifer Hudson the week she was eliminated from American Idol. She later performed "Weekend In New England" live with Barry Manilow at Clive Davis' 2009 pre-Grammy Awards party. The song was written by Randy Edelman who is best known for writing multiple film scores for hit movies. "Weekend In New England" peaked at #10 on the pop chart and went all the way to #1 on the adult contemporary chart. 

Casual pop fans often do not recognize "Weekend In New England" by its title because the phrase "New England" only appears once in the song. A line in the verse reads, "Time in New England took me away..." The word "weekend" never appears in the lyrics. "Weekend In New England" was one of three top 10 pop hits from the album This One's For You.

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"Could It Be Magic" - 1975

Barry Manilow and Adrienne Anderson wrote "Could It Be Magic" around Frédéric Chopin's Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20. The song opens and closes with an excerpt from the piece. There is a reference in the song's lyrics to "sweet Melissa" that is thought to refer to singer Melissa Manchester.

"Could It Be Magic" was first recorded in 1971 when Barry Manilow was still a commercial jingle writer and arranger. He was not allowed to do the original arrangement himself, and the recording was produced under the tutelage of Tony Orlando, best known for his #1 hit "Tie a Yellow Ribbon." The recording was done in a bubblegum pop style, credited to Featherbed featuring Barry Manilow, and failed miserably when released. Barry Manilow first released his own arrangement in 1973, and it failed to chart, too. Finally, in 1975, it was re-released after "Mandy" hit #1 on the pop chart. This time Barry Manilow struck gold and "Could It Be Magic" peaked at #6.

In 1976 Donna Summer released a disco version of "Could It Be Magic" and it reached #3 on the dance chart. The British boy band Take That covered the song in 1992 and they took it to #3 on the UK pop singles chart.

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"I Made It Through the Rain" - 1980

At the present time, "I Made It Through the Rain" stands as Barry Manilow's final top 10 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100. It is a positive inspirational song co-written by Barry Manilow himself. After five consecutive studio albums had reached the top 10, Barry, the album including "I Made It Through The Rain," only made it to #15. However, Barry was certified platinum for sales. The song was first written by the team of Gerard Kenny and Drey Shepperd. When Barry Manilow heard it, he adjusted the lyrics with Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman altering the point of view from that of a musician to an everyman. The song "I Made It Through the Rain" peaked at #10 on the pop singles chart and #4 on the adult contemporary chart.

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"Somewhere In the Night" - 1978

The song "Somewhere In the Night" reached the Billboard Hot 100 twice before Barry Manilow recorded the only top 10 version. His version has become the definitive interpretation of the song. Helen Reddy hit the top 20 with "Somewhere In the Night" in 1976. It also appeared on albums by Batdorf & Rodney, Yvonne Elliman, and Kim Carnes in 1975.

The song was the fourth single from Barry Manilow's triple platinum album Even Now. The album peaked at #3 on the album chart and was certified triple platinum for sales. It was Barry Manilow's only album that generated three top 10 pop hit singles.

"Somewhere In the Night" was written by the songwriting team of Richard Kerr and Will Jennings who also teamed up on the #1 smash "Looks Like We Made It." "Somewhere In the Night" was first released on a single in the UK in the summer of 1978 as the B-side to "Copacabana." After it earned radio airplay there, it was released as its own single in the US in December.