Seeing these two billboards every day, at the 53rd Street subway stop, is like a glorious vision of gods in combat. Rod Stewart goes up against Barry Manilow, two silver foxes with dueling oldies albums, Rod’s Still The Same: Great Rock Classics Of Our Time vs. Barry’s The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties. So who wins the battle of the oldies singers? There’s only one way to settle this — man to man, round for round, song for song. Rod’s like, “Yo Copacabana, you want a piece of this?” And Barry’s like, “Oh, it’s like that, right? You want an oldies-off? Bring it, bitch!” And Rod’s like, “Oh, it’s broughten! Toniiight’s the niiight!”
Gentlemen, I want a nice clean fight. No hitting below the belt. And no Cat Stevens songs. They all suck, except the one about the moon shadow. That one was kind of cool. Touch gloves. Ding!
Round 1: Rod’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” vs. Barry’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
Rod comes out punching and takes the first round! Barry’s song was done better in Ten Things I Hate About You.
Round 2: Rod’s “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” vs. Barry’s “Cherish/Windy”
Another round for Rod! This could get bloody. “Cherish” sucks so bad, it’s hard to believe Cat Stevens didn’t write it.
Round 3: Rod’s “I’ll Stand By You” vs. Barry’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
Surprise! Barry takes his first round! Could he be storming to an upset victory? His version can’t touch Elvis or even Corey Hart — but it beats “I’ll Stand By You.”
Round 4: Rod’s “Still The Same” vs. Barry’s “A Kind Of Hush”
Rod slams back! Musical headbutt! Damn, this was almost a TKO — I had to go in and cut Barry’s eye. This Bob Seger song always sounded like a Rod song in the first place.
Round 5: Rod’s “It’s a Heartache” vs. Barry’s “And I Love Her”
Rod steals another round — this is getting out of hand, with Barry gushing blood like a tomato can. The crowd is chanting “stop the fight!” but there’s no mercy here.
Round 6: Rod’s “Day After Day” vs. Barry’s “Blue Velvet”
Aw snap! The Manimonster’s back, counterpunching like a madman! Rope-a-dope Barry is back in the fight, but Rod still leads, four rounds to two.
Round 7: Rod’s “Missing You” vs. Barry’s “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”
Rod choking on the words “heartbreak overload” is the best thing on either album so far. Barry, you’ve got what, three Burt Bacharach songs? You know, there was other shit in the Sixties, you read about that, right?
Round 8: Rod’s “Father & Son” vs. Barry’s “This Guy’s In Love With You”
Cat Stevens? Rod, I warned you! This one goes to the Manimachete.
Round 9: Rod’s “The Best Of My Love” vs. Barry’s “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime”
Another easy Barry victory — he’s almost tied, four rounds to five. This ring looks like a Kansas slaughterhouse. Rod, you need that eye-of-the-tiger spirit back. Maybe you should try a Dylan song?
Round 10: Rod’s “If Not For You” vs. Barry’s “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”
That’s my boy. Barry doesn’t lay a glove on him. Rod, you’re so handy with the Dylan songs, why do you mess with this Cat character? And no “Landslide”?
Round 11: Rod’s “Love Hurts” vs. Barry’s “When I Fall In Love”
Ouch. Close, but Rod clobbers through. I have never seen the ring so dank with gore, sweat, and human desperation. Barry is missing an ear and Rod’s nose will never be straight again. Even the pinky-ring mobsters in the front row are weeping. Weeping, I tell you!
Round 12: Rod’s “Everything I Own” vs. Barry’s “Strangers In The Night”
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Ugh, Rod, this was Bread’s pukiest song! The Manimangler scores a late-round comeback — but he’ll need a knockout to win. He’s got one of Rod’s lungs wrapped around his neck. Rod has Barry’s spleen caked in his hair.
Round 13: Rod’s “Crazy Love” vs. Barry’s “What The World Needs Now Is Love”
It’s all over, folks. Rod takes the last round, giving him eight to Barry’s five. He saved his Van Morrison cover for last, and it was a haymaker. We’re going in for an interview, trying to ask Rod why he doesn’t sing any “rock classics of our time” that are from “our time,” as opposed to thirty years ago, but Rod’s having trouble standing up and it was a dumb question anyway. Congratulations Rod and Barry — leaving this ring alive is a triumph in itself, and both your albums will sell like black stretchpants. Next week: Rod defends his crown against Julio Iglesias’ Romantic Classics and Tony Bennett’s Duets!