Feature

Barry Manilow’s cornball success

Even now, Manilow is a little puzzled about why critics hated him so.

Barry Manilow has finally accepted the fact that he’s just not cool, said Alan Jackson in the London Daily Mail. It’s taken him 35 years, but the singer born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, N.Y., is no longer troubled that sophisticated folks deem his music cheesy. Originally, he expected a different reception. “Nobody could have been more surprised than I was to find I wasn’t hip,” says Manilow, now 67. “I thought I was the saviour of pop, the hippest musician ever.”

The former commercial jingle writer certainly sold a lot of records, after getting the public’s attention with his first monster hit, “Mandy,” with its characteristically syrupy lyrics and earnest vocals. “I look at my younger self now and can’t help thinking how brave I was going to have to be. No one can have gotten worse reviews or been the subject of crueler jokes than I did starting out. Every critic wanted to kick me. Every comic wanted laughs at my expense. The terrible crime? Sitting at a piano singing heartfelt songs.”

Those songs have made Manilow a rich man, and he continues to sell out shows in Las Vegas. Still, he can’t help but be a little puzzled about why critics hated him so. “It’s not like I’d hurt their loved ones. It was a shock anyone could be so vicious. All I cared about was the music.”

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