Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Jul 1, 2013.
What The Carpenters needed was a great song that was irestistable to radio
Thanks John (above, post #425) for reminding me of the chart success of Muskrat Love.
Now, that brought back memories--how I detested that song back then !
Well, I took another listen a few minutes ago--horrible song, still.
And, Muskrat Love charted very successfully !
Late 1976, The Carpenters were simply out-of-favor.
Now, how do I square that with the apparent excellent Nielsen rating of the
Carpenters' Very First Television Special ?
I’ve read articles and interviews with people about this very phenomenon. It’s said that people would happily tune in to watch the TV specials but would just not go out and buy the records. I think that’s partly to do with the fact that earlier fans had “outgrown” their music as they had gotten older and their music tastes had changed, together with the fact that, for the main part, there was never any new single to promote on these specials. They dredged up all the material from their earlier albums. That’s especially the case with the first TV special. We got Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays, Close To You, Top Of The World, medley of hits - and no new single.
I still maintain that after Passage, even the (some would say but not me) mediocre solo album by Karen would have been the perfect tool to make programmers and listeners alike listen to Karen (and then the duo) with fresh ears.
And lest we forget that other hit of animal magnetism that was also burning up the charts at that same time: The Disco Duck. The culture had more love for dancing ducks and randy rodents than they had for Karen and Richard!
Don't underestimate the effect of the monster SINGLES 1969-1973 on sales. It sold a humongous amount of albums - and there was a feeling back then that if a "greatest hits" album was issued, then that's all you needed from that particular artist. If someone wasn't deep into Carpenters album tracks and only wanted the hits, SINGLES 1969-1973 gave many all they needed.
And then there's the ebb and flow factor. All artists - all artists - have a rise to a peak and then a drop off. Some occasionally re-invent and recover briefly, but then fade away again. Carpenters had their huge hit-making years from 1970 to 1974 or so where they could do no wrong. A few more forays into the top twenty would accentuate their ultimate decline. I'm sure that had they stayed healthy, they'd have had more peaks as time went on.
I've been observing the discussion on this thread and find it very interesting. Harry brought up a good point.
The average USA fan may have had enough of the Carpenters by 1976. I think Solitaire, as wonderful of a performance as it is, was the start of the "their just to mellow for pop radio" phase. They put out some great music after that, and were always embraced here by Adult Complementary radio. But they play timeless music, rather than trendy, like disco. Even a song like Only Yesterday. Would that have been a hit for the Carpenters in 1976 or 1977? Had Karen lived I think that their legacy would of been quite different. Look at the success of Donny and Marie in their later years in Los Vegas. Despite the lack of hits, they maintained a large fan base, because they are still both active in the industry. Plus are they any more hip or cool than the Carpenters were??? Hardly.
Way way back then in 1971 my CarpenterS Fanclub newsletters came each month like clockwork. It was quite some time later when they became quarterly.
I want to clarify that even back in 1975 or thereabouts, it would have been extremely rare to have a DJ in any major market with the power to choose records to play. The playlists of stations were controlled by the music or program director at these big stations. Little mom and pop radio stations were where you could find some DJs with the power to pick and choose records.
So if a song like "Goofus" wasn't on the approved playlist, there was precious little a DJ could do to play it, even if requested. Other "radio-isms" that may have been in play is the idea of dayparting. A friendly record promoter from A&M might twist a PD's arm to get them to play a record like "All You Get From Love Is A Love Song" and the PD would maybe oblige by putting it on the list, but then when program logs were prepared, the song might be buried in the late nights or overnights so as not to hurt the ratings in the main money dayparts. The PD could then show the promoter, "Look, your record got 18 plays over the last two weeks, but it's not getting any traction." The promoter is happy, the PD is happy. But the record went nowhere. Of course not - very few people heard it!
That's the way Commercial radio worked then but today it's run by consultants and bean counters but thankfully I'm still at one of the very few freeform stations left where the Dj s still choose and program the music and we do have a few carpenter's records in the library but I own the CDS and I usually use my CDS because sadly the records weren't cared for very well
I like reading about the internal functioning of radio stations.
That opens my eyes to a number of avenues.
The primary takeaway here (for me) is that Goofus may likely never have been placed into rotation
by the program director. It would not have been chosen, not played, not heard by the public.
Would any song by The Carpenters have been chosen--in late 1976, for radio play ?
I realize the album, Hush, takes a beating.
But, after all these years (and, I am listening to the entire album song sequentially, this morning):
the album is not bad. It is soft, to be sure. But, it does have its own personality.
I've always liked the album.
It has its highlights.
That depended on the station of course. Radio was beginning to fragment into specialized formats, so a station that was leaning toward soft rock sounds would naturally play any current Carpenters record - as long as it fit the format. The first stations that broke away from Carpenters were the ones that leaned toward rock or disco, and that includes the big Top 40 stations in the big markets. That created a sort of dichotomy in radio where a station where you could hear a Carpenters record was deemed as un-hip. The hip stations (and hip wannabees) of the day in the late 70s even created local promos that guaranteed that you wouldn't hear such soft stuff as Carpenters or Bread on their stations.
^^ Harry that jogged a memory - I specifically remember radio stations running ad campaigns where a voice-over would say something akin to "IS THIS what you want!? And play a quick 10 second medley of Bread, the Carpenters, or like bands. Then a loud needle scratch sound, and "well turn the channel, because we play THIS!! And then a medley of rock bands. Had forgotten that stuff.
And it was usually the line "...sprinkled moondust in your hair..."
Now, I can fully appreciate where Karen & Richard took
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, here is the fast version, live, Neil Sedaka:
Closer is the original recorded version:
I heard Goofus played on only one radio station and it was an Automated Easy listening station which played all that their pre programmed tapes had to offer. And then the station switched to oldies and later talk radio but at least i could always count on hearing The Carpenters on an easy listening station Even The Instrumental cover versions too
I remember, after "Touch Me When We're Dancing" left the charts and "Want You Back In My Life Again" was released, calling the local radio station and requesting the latter. After all, "Touch Me..." went to No. 16 so, naturally, I thought the follow-up would also get airplay. However, when I requested "Want You...," they DJ's actually LAUGHED AT ME and said, in not so few words, "ain't gonna happen." I couldn't wrap my mind around, not only the rudeness but, that they played "Touch Me..." and completely disregarded and mocked "Want You.."
Maybe they just thought that people were lucky to hear one Carpenters comeback single and that anyone wanting the station to play more was just pushing something that was never going to happen. I don't think it had anything to do with the quality of songs, just that they wanted to be assholes and laugh at someone who wanted more of a band considered old-hat.
As Goofus takes another beating as a Carpenters' choice of Single,
I get reminded of how this album, Kind Of Hush gets beaten up.
I am in another camp on this one, also.
The album is NOT a bad album--although, it was perhaps too far from the trends of 1976.
There is much more happening in 1976 for the duo than simply saying "choice of material was bad."
That view is simply false.
The album's choice of material was NOT trendy, it was quite SOFT, there was diversity on the album.
Also, Captain & Tennille were tearing-up the charts, as was disco music.
Kind of Hush is NOT a bad album by any means.
Here is something I had not read before (or, recalled):
Billboard Magazine May 6,1978, on the
Seals and Croft album Takin' It Easy, regarding
One More Time: "...three members of the Carpenters' band do background vocals
and a pretty MOR arrangement of One More Time,"
This is actually a pretty good version of the song that I’ve never heard before. Interesting that members of the Carpenters band are on backing vocals because the opening sounds for all the world like When Time Was All We Had.
By 1981 most of the highest rated radio stations that were not talk radio, were On the FM dial. FM was considered more hip and was in stereo, so the sound was so much better. People were starting to get better sound systems for their cars and am/fm cassette players were all the rage. I was shocked when the music programmer from our local rock station called me on the phone at work and told me to tune in. A new Carpenters single was out, and they added it. I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t play anything softer than Wings or Fleetwood Mac, then. I went out to my car to listen in private, and was totally blown away to hear “Touch Me When We’re Dancing”. I thought it was awesome, but worried that they would get backlash from their listeners for playing Carpenters at all. Stiil, it was on for about 5 weeks, the last Carpenters song they ever played. After that he would drop off the promo singles released after that, at the store when visiting or to look at imports. Nothing released after Touch Me was even considered for air play then. Also radio was starting to splinter by that time, playing format material only. Pop radio changed to dance, Modern Rock, Alternative, and Easy Listening or MOR. Carpenters ended up on mostly MOR stations by that time and most were lower rated, older adult listeners that didn’t buy singles and much fewer albums than they did as teenagers or young adults. There were exceptions, but most of my customers were under 25 and didn’t know who the Carpenters were by 1981. Their fans had matured just like most on here. If I mention them now to anyone under 30 they have never heard of them. Maybe a song or two, but they don’t know who sang it. Kudos to the new young fans keeping their sound alive, as well as the die hard true blue fans out there. They will always be our favorite duo.
Oops I forgot R&B and Urban formats in my post, as well...
I think the original link I posted was broken. Here’s another.