The video below captures a moment in time that feels almost otherworldly in our modern era. It’s a performance by a musician whose name instantly conjures feelings of nostalgia and Americana for many: Barry Manilow. This video, filmed in 1976 at Manilow’s fame, transports us back to a time when music was just as much about showmanship and spectacle as the notes themselves.
The 70s were a time of excess when everything was bigger, louder, and brighter. The world was still reeling from the social upheavals of the 60s, but there was also a sense of optimism and possibility in the air. Disco was rising, but so were singer-songwriters and soft rockers like Manilow. It was a time when a good melody and a catchy chorus could take you to the top of the charts.
And Barry Manilow was certainly at the top of his game in 1976. He was a household name, thanks to hits like “Mandy” and “I Write the Songs.” His concerts included elaborate sets and costumes, dancers, and backup singers. And in this video, he’s at his peak, singing the timeless classic “Unchained Melody” with all the passion and theatricality he’s known for.
It’s hard to put into words just how electric this performance is. Manilow is dressed in a white tuxedo with rhinestone lapels, his hair in a floppy 70s coif. The audience is on their feet, swaying and clapping along. But it’s Manilow’s voice that truly steals the show. He has a way of imbuing every line with raw emotion, and his soaring vocals on the chorus give us goosebumps.
“Unchained Melody” was originally written for a 1955 movie, Unchained, but it’s been covered countless times since then. The most famous version is probably the one recorded by the Righteous Brothers in 1965, which is the version Manilow is likely paying homage to here. But his rendition is far from a mere copycat. Instead, he puts his spin on the song, adding flourishes and dynamics that make it feel fresh and new.
But there’s something else about this video that makes it special. It’s the way that Manilow connects with his audience, both through his music and his demeanor. He’s a consummate showman who makes eye contact with fans in the front row and touches their hands. But he’s also vulnerable, letting his emotions show on his face as he sings. A sense of intimacy and sincerity here is all too rare in modern music videos.
One interesting fact about “Unchained Melody” is that it wasn’t a hit for the Righteous Brothers when it was first released. It wasn’t until it was used in the movie Ghost in 1990 that it became a huge success again. But Manilow’s version is just as powerful, and it’s clear that he understands the song on a deep level.
So, why should you share this video with your friends? Because it’s a reminder of a bygone era, a time when music was about more than just the number of streams or liked it received. It’s a celebration of showmanship, talent, and raw emotion. And it’s a testament to the enduring power of a good song performed by a true master.