Saturday, August 27, 2011

15 Minutes – A Review (Sort of)

Barry Manilow’s first CD of original music in ten years was released on June 14, 2011.   Titled 15 Minutes, the CD has the theme of fame, asking on the cover “Fame…Can You Take It?” Barry and his management team pulled out all the stops in getting the word out about the CD release. This was especially important since 15 Minutes was released on the Stiletto label making it an independent release. Personally I think they did a great job. My sister who cares nothing for anything Manilow knew Barry had a new CD coming out just by watching daytime television. Barry made all the rounds of talk shows on TV and radio. I thought the Travis Smiley interview on public radio and CNN’s Piers Morgan were very well done interviews. Even now, over two months out from the release date, Barry continues to promote the CD in interviews.

Like a good Manilow fan, I purchased two copies of 15 Minutes. I ordered the QVC CD with the bonus CD and then Starbiz hooked me. I fell right for the idea of getting a surprise with my CD. While I didn’t get Vegas tickets, I did get a Live at the Greek DVD, which I am very happy about and a snow globe from The Paris. Some very good things came out of getting the word about Barry’s new CD. Barry is now using Facebook to connect with his fans, as well as a video blog on YouTube. I am so glad to see the use of the social media to get the word out about 15 Minutes. TPTB reached out to the fans, treating them as the valuable asset they are. Fans united behind Barry and 15 Minutes. The result was a very good chart showing for the CD’s debut week. I hope this means TPTB discovered that being nice to fans brings good results.

If you are looking for the polished professional sound of Barry’s recent decades CDs, then 15 Minutes will sorely disappoint you. The vocals are rawer, to fit the storyline of 15 Minutes. Listening to the CD in one sitting works to get the full effect of the fame theme of 15 Minutes, and there is a theme. The story has a beginning, middle, and an end. It is not a new theme. In fact, the story of how people deal with fame is a story that has been told over and over. What makes 15 Minutes stand out is the fact that it is a story that Barry has lived. It’s personal. So personal that in some songs, the feeling comes through that Barry is holding back for fear of revealing too much about a painful time that maybe he went through in his own career. I see 15 Minutes becoming something of a cult CD, much like a cult movie.

People, mostly young people, trying to gain the success the guy in 15 Minutes achieves, will relate to the CD. They will find their way to 15 Minutes because it describes exactly what they are going through, or will go through. All the emotions that goes into getting talent recognized and making it, is expressed, as well as the underside of what that fame fought for so hard can do to a person. Could there be a sequel to 15 Minutes? The “he” on the CD is assured on the last cut that after losing his fame, “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right.” Does he regain his fame and does he do it right the second time? Barry has the experience to speak to that theme too. Just an idea.

To be honest, when I put my ear buds in to listen to music at work, 15 Minutes does not get played. It is too intense to be background music. When I listen to Manilow Radio, it jars me to hear 15 Minutes cuts. That’s just me. 15 Minutes may drop off the charts but I feel it will find an audience for a long time to come, not only among Manilow fans but among people struggling with the same problems the songs on the CD address. One thing I hope is that Barry’s audience doesn’t have to wait so long for his next CD of original music.