John Barrowman is best known as an actor, having played roles like Malcolm Merlyn in "Arrow" and Captain Jack Harkness in "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood." But what music fans may not know is that he's also a singer who's released several albums and has extensive musical experience. As Barrowman celebrates his birthday on March 11, AXS has put together a playlist of his five best songs so that audiences can enjoy his musical talents. Listen to it below and keep up with the latest John Barrowman news and tour dates at AXS.
Barrowman covered this Barry Manilow song on his album Another Side, and made it an instant winner. Whether the listener is a Manilow fan or not, Barrowman's version of this gentle ballad has a charisma all its own. The smoothness of his vocal performance matches perfectly with the pace of the song, which is meant to be savored and to feel contemplative. He does absolute justice to the track while improving upon it with the qualities he naturally brings to the table, and in so doing opens it up to be enjoyed by a much wider audience.
Speaking of covers, the idea of John Barrowman covering a Demi Lovato song might sound a little weird. But it's actually quite brilliant, as Barrowman takes one of Lovato's biggest hits and runs with it. Coming from a background in musical theater, he's at his best when a song is big and epic, and "Skyscraper" is an empowering anthem which requires big, epic vocals. It's the kind of song that an artist has to throw themselves into, and Barrowman does that. He doesn't try to outsing Lovato, just puts every ounce of his heart and passion into the cover, and it more than comes through.
From his Music Music Music album, this is Barrowman's only song to get a VEVO music video (which you can watch by playing the video above). This is a classic pop tune, as the narrator is trying to figure out what's made his relationship go so wrong - something we've heard other people sing about hundreds of times before. But Barrowman has a winner on his hands with "What About Us," which has a catchy chorus, places he can punch up the lyrics vocally, and great music to back him up. It truly does feel like he's appealing directly to the audience and winning them over as well.
This song is originally from the musical "Chess" but Barrowman has covered it twice and done well with it each time. The duet version with Daniel Boys, which you can hear by clicking the song title, is a phenomenal duet that every pop music fan needs to hear. Both performers are exceptional throughout, and they also mesh perfectly together. Barrowman also recorded the song as a solo on his Music Music Music record, and while that version isn't quite as jaw-dropping as the duet edition, what's fascinating about it is how he changes the song just by changing the number of performers. In the solo version, it takes on an almost more somber, heartbreaking quality. He doesn't just re-record the same song by himself; he finds a way to make the solo and duet versions feel entirely different, and that's what ranks this so high on our list.
If music fans can only hear one John Barrowman song, there's no doubt that it's "I Am What I Am." It's the song that he's likely best known for, after having recorded it, performed it live in concert, and of course performed it while starring in the musical "La Cage Aux Folles." It's also a song that he fits perfectly with. As possibly the biggest number in "La Cage" it requires exceptional vocal power and ability, and while Barrowman brings that, music fans will be able to hear the conviction with which he performs it. It's obviously a song close to his heart, and everything comes together perfectly.