|Baryy ManilowIn terms of both 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; Manilow's music has been much maligned by critics and listeners alike, particularly the romantic ballads that made 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 often bordered on bombastic, but unlike many of his MOR peers, Manilow wasn't aiming to make smooth, restrained background music -- he conceived of himself as a pop entertainer and all-around showman in the classic mold, and his performances and stage shows were accordingly theatrical.Manilow dominated pop music during the latter half of the '70s like few other performers, spinning off a long series of hit singles (including 13 number one hits on the adult contemporary charts) and platinum albums that essentially made the Arista label. The well began to run dry by the early '80s; no longer a superstar expected to deliver blockbuster hits, Manilow was free to explore his long-held taste for swing, pop standards, and Broadway show tunes, which dominated his albums from the mid-'80s on. He has continued to record steadily, and his popularity never completely eroded, as evidenced by the number three chart debut of his 2002 greatest-hits package, Ultimate Manilow, and the number one peak of his 2006 covers album, Greatest Songs of the Fifties.