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15 Minutes (Fame... Can You Take It?)

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Album Review

Like Here at the Mayflower before it, 15 Minutes — Barry Manilow’s first collection of original pop tunes since that 2001 record — is a concept album, this time chronicling the ups and downs of fleeting fame in the 21st century. The concept is modern and, appropriately, so is some of the music on this 16-track collection. Most notably, Manilow not only rides a tightly wound drum loop on “Work the Room,” he also raps, a development nearly as disconcerting as the cuss he slips into its chorus. So, don’t let it be said that Manilow shies away from risks on 15 Minutes, but he’s still Barry, and he still favors sharp songcraft and melodies so ingratiating they unwittingly worm their way into the subconscious. Nevertheless, ballads take a back seat to sprightly pop throughout 15 Minutes and he comes up with some of his liveliest numbers in years here, highlighted by the Sedaka-esque bounce of “Who Needs You” and the slowly escalating “Winner Go Down.” These may be the snappiest songs here, but 15 Minutes offers something unexpected: here, Barry Manilow is trying hard to deliver serious, sharply crafted pop, and even if the album doesn’t entirely work, it’s hard not to give him considerable credit for his ambition, not to mention the couple of cuts where it all clicks.


Born: 17 June 1943 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In terms of record sales and career longevity, Barry Manilow is one of the most successful adult contemporary singers ever. That success hasn't necessarily translated to respect (or even ironic hipster appreciation) in most quarters; instead, Manilow's music has been much maligned by critics and listeners alike, particularly the romantic ballads that defined his career, which were derided as maudlin schlock even during his heyday. It's true that Manilow's taste for swelling choruses and lush arrangements...
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15 Minutes (Fame... Can You Take It?), Barry Manilow
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