Home > Pissing off the Taste Police > Pissing Off The Taste Police With Barry Manilow

Pissing Off The Taste Police With Barry Manilow

The first time I heard it I nearly fainted from the tectonic plate shift in my worldview. A member of the female persuasion confessed…no, it was not a confession. She said, lust blindingly gleaming in her eyes and reflecting off her rosy cheeks, that Barry Manilow is sooooo sexy. And normal, even attractive women — not Hausfrau moms and bicycle-riding spinster aunts — have confirmed the bewildering idea that this marshmallow of manliness is somehow sexually attractive. Yeugh!

I’m a modern man. I will acknowledge with good cheer when another man is sexy without feeling threatened in my heterosexuality. George Clooney? Phwoar! Paul Rudd? Phew! Cristiano Ronaldo? Score! But Barry Manilow is sexless. Moms and spinster aunts may disagree, but they are moms and spinster aunts. Normal woman, however, women we non-marshmallows might fancy, would swoon over Barry Manilow. Oh, but they did, even if they didn’t tell us guys because we’d laugh at them.

And that’s why every men in the world hates Barry Manilow. While we sat on our 1970s couches, we would watch whatever third-rate music programme terrestial TV would throw our way, only to see that gurning concorde-nosed, fake-tanned, blow dried, white jacketed and dickie-bowed fuckface make our Moms moist. OF COURSE WE HATED BARRY BLOODY MANILOW! Because we didn’t understand women. We still don’t.

A couple of years ago I came as close to a fistfight as I’ve ever been since school with a chap, subsequently nicknamed Dick-Dick, over the relative merits of Barry Manilow’s version of “Mandy” (my corner) versus Westlife’s (Dick-Dick’s corner). It was an unequal fight which I couldn’t lose. Bazza’s “Mandy” is great, Westlife’s an insipid affair which cries out for the temporary reintroduction of capital punishment in Ireland. Dick-Dick just hated Barry Manilow. How much do you have to hate a man to stake your entire credibility on fucking Westlife? Dick-Dick could not mount a coherent attack on Manilow’s music. And here’s the key: for all his cheesiness, Manilow is very talented. Girls dig him not because he’s hot, but because he sings the songs that make the young girls cry.

An elegant way of resolving the dilemma of acknowledging Manilow’s talent would be to say: “Well, he is a fine songwriter, it’s just his singing and arrangements that suck.” But that is not true either. In fact, most of Bazza’s biggest hits were not written by him. Mandy, I Write The Songs, Can’t Smile Without You, Looks Like We’ve Made It, Weekend In New England — not written by Manilow. So we’re left with the interpretation and arrangement. And listen to these songs within their context — mainstream pop leaning towards the easy listening side — and listen to them without prejudice: they are quite exquisite, in a Carpenters kind of way. Here’s the proof: Any Minor Dude, a 13-year-old of good taste who knows nothing of Manilow’s low stock among male music lovers, said he really liked “Weekend In New England” when I played for the purpose of this post. If it is good enough for him, it ought to be good enough to make us listen to Manilow’s music again. Just banish Bazza’s stupid grin from your mind.

Barry Manilow – I Write The Songs.mp3
Barry Manilow – Looks Like We Made It.mp3
Barry Manilow – Can’t Smile Without You.mp3
Barry Manilow – Weekend In New England.mp3
Barry Manilow – Mandy.mp3
Barry Manilow – Copacabana.mp3
Barry Manilow – Could It be Magic.mp3

And don’t forget that Barry Manilow arranged Dionne Warwick’s finest post-Bacharach moment, the Isaac Hayed-penned Deja Vu:
Dionne Warwick – Deja Vu.mp3

Previously on Pissing off the Taste Police:
Lionel Richie
The Carpenters
Billy Joel
Neil Diamond
America


Be Sociable, Share!
  1. Simon
    May 15th, 2008 at 20:40 | #1

    Have any of these women seen what he looks like lately? That’s some bad surgery…he looks like joan Rivers….

  2. Any major dude with half a heart
    May 15th, 2008 at 22:01 | #2

    Hence the judicious use of the past tense.Add Smokey Robinson to the coiterie of terrible plastic surgery jobs. On the other hand, there’s Keef…

  3. Steve
    May 16th, 2008 at 00:48 | #3

    Listening to one Manilow song is great.Two songs in a row is ok.By the time I get to three, I just feel like taking a hot shower to get the “ick” off…

  4. whiteray
    May 16th, 2008 at 04:32 | #4

    “Mandy” — one of the great time/place record for me, thus a record I love. I like the others, save perhaps “Can’t Smile,” and I think you’ve got it right when you draw the parallel with the Carpenters. (I also truly love the “Very Strange Medley’! That may show up over at my place sometime soon.)

  5. Rol
    May 16th, 2008 at 10:03 | #5

    You can’t go wrong with a bit of the old Bazza boogie…

  6. Liz
    May 16th, 2008 at 13:42 | #6

    My eyes! My ears!

  7. jb
    May 16th, 2008 at 14:06 | #7

    “Weekend in New England” has mighty mojo and must not be mocked. “Looks Like We Made It” approaches the same league, as does “Even Now.” But “Can’t Smile Without You” should be terminated with extreme prejudice.

  8. StellaVista
    May 17th, 2008 at 00:33 | #8

    I learned the power of “Copacobana” when I found myself in a London club age 28 when that song came on to loud cheers. To my suprise I could sing along and knew every word of it, despite not having heard it for maybe 15 years and not being a native english speaker.

  9. stackja1945
    May 17th, 2008 at 10:51 | #9

    I like what I like. The taste police can go do whatever. Mandy yes, Copacobana no, I write the songs yes.

  10. billie
    May 18th, 2008 at 08:23 | #10

    I like “Daybreak,” “Trying to Get That Feeling,” and his KFC jingles. I wouldn’t admit to the others, but man, I know all the words!

  11. Anonymous
    May 20th, 2008 at 15:42 | #11

    Thanks,you’re right, these are good songs. Along a similar line, could I make a request for an old Labi Siffre song about the girl in the blue dress??

  12. Walter
    May 20th, 2008 at 18:14 | #12

    Re Labi Siffre, that’ll be ‘Make My Day’, great song that one, finally tracked it down earlier this year

  13. ally.
    May 30th, 2008 at 15:37 | #13

    oooh now you’ve got it going on – i’m spending the rest of the day with a bottle of something pink and a couple of boxes of tissues – marvelous maestrox

  14. Stephen Kuykendall
    July 15th, 2008 at 23:16 | #14

    Ah yes Mandy is a fine piece of music. I find it very odd that this guy who was so prolific a writer (especially those catchy commercial jingles) didn’t write “I Write The Songs”, rather a Beach Boy wrote it. Can you imagine those guys singing that song??

  15. ontheflipside
    July 13th, 2009 at 03:46 | #15

    Barry Manilow doesn’t understand women either, he’s gay!

    I’ve never been a big fan although my boyfriend from high school loved him. (Old boyfriend isn’t gay). So that proves there is at least one guy that likes him and one gal who doesn’t. ;D

  16. July 13th, 2009 at 22:20 | #16

    I’ve found that usually gay men understand women a lot better than heterosexual men. If Bazza is gay (and I’ve read now that he’s been living with a guy for twenty years), then he has put his insights to excellent use.

  17. Anonymous
    October 4th, 2009 at 21:36 | #17

    fucking ironic that he didnt write “i write the songs”!!

    what a dick…. id have slapped both of u for arguing any version of mandy is good lol ;)

  1. No trackbacks yet.