By Bill Lamb
Barbra Streisand is one of the top pop recording artists of all time as well as an accomplished film actor and director. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) considers her the top female recording artist of all time. Barbra Streisand has had phenomenal success among pop and rock audiences even though her primary style is more adapted to the recording of pop standards and show tunes. She has ventured with significant success into pop-rock and disco through the years. These are 10 of her very best recorded pop moments.
"Happy Days Are Here Again" bears a 1929 copyright. It was used as the campaign theme for Franklin D. Roosevelt's successful 1932 presidential campaign. Most performances of the song are in a quick, upbeat mode. Barbra Streisand's expressive and reflective version became her first commercial single and was highly acclaimed for its originality. The song was a centerpiece of Barbra Streisand's debut album and she performed it on television with Judy Garland on The Judy Garland Show.
Watch "Happy Days Are Here Again" solo
Watch "Happy Days Are Here Again" with Judy Garland
"People" was written for the Broadway musical Funny Girl. The production starred Barbra Streisand, and the song became her first major pop hit peaking at #5. Barbra Streisand was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in Funny Girl and she eventually won an Academy Award for starring in the film version of the show. "People" is considered one of Barbra Streisand's signature songs.
By 1970 Barbra Streisand's commercial success as a recording artist had noticeably faded. In response she turned to more contemporary pop and rock on the album Stoney End. The result was a strong critical and commercial hit. The album became her first top 10 in five years, and the title song was her second top 10 pop single peaking at #6. The writer of "Stoney End" is Laura Nyro who is known for writing such pop hits as the Fifth Dimension's "Wedding Bell Blues" and Blood, Sweat and Tears' "And When I Die."
"The Way We Were" is the title song for the movie starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. It was written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman with Marvin Hamlisch. It won the Academy Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture and is widely considered one of the top film songs of all time. "The Way We Were" became Barbra Streisand's first #1 pop single spending three weeks at the top. The album The Way We Were, which is an album featuring the song and is not a movie soundtrack, became Barbra Streisand's first #1 hit album in 10 years.
Barbra Streisand paired with Kris Kristofferson to star in the film remake of A Star Is Born. The result was a box office, if not critical, smash. An element most critics did appreciate was the title song for the movie co-written and sung by Barbra Streisand. The single returned her to the top of the pop charts and won both an Academy Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture, her second in four years, as well as a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
Streisand Superman was one of the most eagerly awaited albums of Barbra Streisand's career following on the heels of the success of A Star Is Born. While not the massive smash some hoped it would be, the album did peak at #3 and included "My Heart Belongs to Me," another top 5 pop hit single. "My Heart Belongs to Me" was originally considered for A Star Is Born but then was saved for this solo album.
It was the peak of disco's popularity. Donna Summer was the acknowledged "Queen of Disco" and Barbra Streisand was one of the top female pop singers in the business who had recently hit the top 5 with her own disco hit "The Main Event / Fight." Bringing the two together in the studio was not an easy task and marketing of the song proved even more complicated with it ultimately being released on each singer's record labels separately. The "No More Tears" intro was reportedly added to fit the theme of Barbra Streisand's album Wet. The final product did not disappoint many and went straight to #1 on the pop charts becoming a disco classic.
In the wake of the phenomenal late 70's success of the Bee Gees, Barbra Streisand asked member Barry Gibb to write songs for her to be included on an album. The result was the album Guilty. The first single "Woman In Love" was Barbra Streisand's fifth trip to the top on the pop singles chart, and it became one of the biggest hits of her career around the world. The album was also a #1 smash ultimately being certified five times platinum.
David Foster's production for this version of the song "Somewhere" from West Side Story could be considered stunning and powerful or supremely over the top. Either way it is certainly unforgettable. This recording is the grand finale to Barbra Streisand's collection of classic songs from musicals on The Broadway Album. It was one of the most successful albums of her career and considered by many a defining moment as a recording artist.