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I Believe You. No promotion

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
'Solitaire' did OK on the charts but I think they were expecting it to do much better than it did.

I think the problem lies in the fact that at the time of its choice as a single, Richard placed all of the emphasis and importance on Karen’s vocal performance. To me it feels like “this is the best vocal she’s ever recorded, we have to put it out as a single!”. Yes it’s arguably one of her finest moments on record, but a stellar vocal doesn’t necessarily equate with a great chart placing. The song and its arrangement were too plodding and too lethargic-sounding for mainstream radio - right from the opening piano notes. That’s the reason I believe its chart performance wasn’t as good as he’d hoped. When you’re listening to the radio, you don’t stop to analyse a singer’s range, phrasing or breath control...you simply lose concentration or switch stations if something doesn’t grab you. And I don’t think that song did many people at the time.
 
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Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I think the problem lies in the fact that at the time of its choice as a single, Richard placed all of the emphasis and importance on Karen’s vocal performance. To me it feels like “this is the best vocal she’s ever recorded, we have to put it out as a single!”. Yes it’s arguably one of her finest moments on record, but a stellar vocal doesn’t necessarily equate with a great chart placing. The song and its arrangement were too plodding and too lethargic-sounding for mainstream radio - right from the opening piano notes. That’s the reason I believe its chart performance wasn’t as good as he’d hoped. When you’re listening to the radio, you don’t stop to analyse a singer’s range, phrasing or breath control...you simply lose concentration or switch stations if something doesn’t grab you. And I don’t think that song did many people at the time.

I'd agree with that. Technically it is a good performance (although I don't much care for the song itself so, good perofrmance or not, it's never connected with me), but it doesn't work that well or draw in the listener on the radio. It's also pretty long at 4:40, which is far longer than the 4 minute mark that was deemed a cut-off that apparently disqualified some later songs from consideration as a contender for a single.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Good points, all, regards Solitaire.
Although, I might add that the arrangement of the 45-Single far outweighs the arrangement heard on the album.
The Single blows me away everytime--vocal plus arrangement. The album version hooks me primarily through Karen's vocals.

On the other hand, a comparison of sorts:
Touch Me When We're Dancing (peak # 16, 14 weeks on chart) and
Solitaire (peak # 17, 11 weeks on chart ) performed similarly on the charts.
What is interesting to note is the completely different vocal styles of those two songs (higher key 1981 versus much lower key 1975).
Obviously the 1981 song resonated on radio, more so than Solitaire resonated in 1975.
Even so, I get blasted out of my seat when I listen to Solitaire,
nothing like that has ever occurred with my listening of Touch Me When We're Dancing.

As I listened to Uninvited Guest, it seems to me that Karen was singing some of
her highest notes ever sung for a ballad.
Obviously, the "money" was not always "in the basement."
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Good points, all, regards Solitaire.
Although, I might add that the arrangement of the 45-Single far outweighs the arrangement heard on the album.
The Single blows me away everytime--vocal plus arrangement. The album version hooks me primarily through Karen's vocals.

On the other hand, a comparison of sorts:
Touch Me When We're Dancing (peak # 16, 14 weeks on chart) and
Solitaire (peak # 17, 11 weeks on chart ) performed similarly on the charts.
What is interesting to note is the completely different vocal styles of those two songs (higher key 1981 versus much lower key 1975).
Obviously the 1981 song resonated on radio, more so than Solitaire resonated in 1975.
Even so, I get blasted out of my seat when I listen to Solitaire,
nothing like that has ever occurred with my listening of Touch Me When We're Dancing.

As I listened to Uninvited Guest, it seems to me that Karen was singing some of
her highest notes ever sung for a ballad.
Obviously, the "money" was not always "in the basement."

Based on their chart runs, you'd have to say 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' (5 weeks in the Top 20) did better than 'Solitaire' (only 2 weeks in the Top 20).

What is interesting looking at the chart runs for both singles is that they both dropped like a stone after hitting their peak position (although 'Touch Me...' stayed at #16 for a few weeks before tumbling down), which seemed to be the pattern for nearly all Carpenters singles in the US charts from 'Only Yesterday' onwards. The only single that fell more slowly was 'Calling Occupants'.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
In the US, there were some very light, easy listening songs in the Top 20 in November and December 1978 when 'I Believe You' would have been a hit if it was going to be a hit, including 'Time Passages' by Al Stewart, 'Talking In You Sleep' by Crystal Gayle, 'Don't Throw It All Away' by Andy Gibb, 'You Needed Me' by Anne Murray, 'Reminiscing' by Little River Band, 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, 'Sharing the Night Together' by Doctor Hook and 'Ooh Baby Baby' by Linda Ronstadt, and some of these were Top 5. There are even a couple of Number Ones amongst them.

The American Top 40 at that time was likely to be a mix of very easy listening stuff, country, disco, soul, harder rock, instrumentals and a number of other genres - so it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility for 'I Believe You' to fit in amongst them - although you were probably a bit less likely to have a big Top 10 hit with an easy listening song than with something a bit harder.

To me, 'I Believe You' sounds like a more likely hit than 'Time Passages' or 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers', as much as I like 'Time Passages'. The other easy listening songs mentioned above I can recognise have a repetitive hook or a catchy chorus, which were almost necessary ingredients for hits back then, and made them a bit more likely to be hits.

I think that it would have been unlikely for 'I Believe You' to be a hit then, because it was slow, it was about marriage, it wasn't something that the main record buyers of 12 years old to 20 years old were going to be able to relate to much, (pairing up for a life time, setting up house, having a child), so the odds were low for Top 40 status. However, some other songs broke the odds and maybe Richard had so much faith in Karen's performance, the orchestration of Paul Riser and his own production that he thought the single might have had a chance.

'Reminiscing' by Little River Band

LOVE THAT SONG!!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
'Reminiscing' by Little River Band

LOVE THAT SONG!!

Totally agree - although I was first introduced to the song via Barry Manilow’s Summer Of ‘78 album, a great collection of cover versions of popular songs from the late 1970s, released in 1996. His version has an abrupt intro because it segues from the previous track on the album. The original version mentioned above is better. Great lyric though!

 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Thanks for this. So would a rating of #24 for the 1978 Christmas special be considered good or not?
Seeing as how there were probably only about 70-75 shows on prime time network TV back then, it wasn’t too bad. Nowadays there are nearer to 110-115 shows on prime time network tv (when you add Fox and CW) and a showing of #24 would be pretty darn good.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Seeing as how there were probably only about 70-75 shows on prime time network TV back then, it wasn’t too bad. Nowadays there are nearer to 110-115 shows on prime time network tv (when you add Fox and CW) and a showing of #24 would be pretty darn good.
Yeah, those ratings would be out of 56 shows. So the 3 middle specials would be in the Top 28 shows. The last Special was right at the bottom.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The last Special was right at the bottom.

Which goes to show that, despite the sheer class of that last one, their TV specials were now also starting to flop and not even the inclusion of Ella Fitzgerald could tempt the viewers in by 1980. It’s not really surprising when the Nelson Riddle Orchestra is featured on the billing for the show. They were simply out of touch with mainstream tastes by then.

I’ve long since held the view that the 1980s would have seen them turn into an act similar to Barry Manilow: release an album every couple of years, a few singles now and again that don’t chart - but that’s ok because the albums would sell moderately well on the back of continued successful tours - and that’s about it. In the same limited duo format, with a label, family and brother unable or unwilling to support her with outside ventures, that was the stultifying future that awaited her. Which is a horrifying prospect when you consider how frighteningly talented she was and how wasted those talents would have been in future decades.
 
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tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Which goes to show that, despite the sheer class of that last one, their TV specials were now also starting to flop and not even the inclusion of Ella Fitzgerald could tempt the viewers in by 1980. It’s not really surprising when the Nelson Riddle Orchestra is featured on the billing for the show. They were simply out of touch with mainstream tastes by then.

I’ve long since held the view that the 1980s would have seen them turn into an act similar to Barry Manilow: release an album every couple of years, a few singles now and again that don’t chart - but that’s ok because the albums would sell moderately well on the back of continued successful tours - and that’s about it. In the same limited duo format, with a label, family and brother unable or unwilling to support her with outside ventures, that was the stultifying future that awaited her. Which is a horrifying prospect when you consider how frighteningly talented she was and how wasted those talents would have been in future decades.
By 1980 the whole TV special fad of the 70’s was going out as well, so you can’t really say that it was just the Carpenters in general.

Also, May is Sweeps month in the US, and a lot of TV shows would’ve been airing their series finale or season finale around that point, and since it was the pre-TV-On-DVD era, most people would either be recording the episodes or watching the broadcasts live and may not have had an interest in a one-off special.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
May 16, 1980 was also a Friday. Networks by 1980 were learning that Friday was a very low-rated night of the week, as adults went to after-work parties, stopped off at their local bars, were going out to dinner, etc. Kids - well, they were out with friends and not interested in Carpenters anyway.
 

Rachel

Someone said that time would ease the pain...
In the same limited duo format, with a label, family and brother unable or unwilling to support her with outside ventures, that was the stultifying future that awaited her. Which is a horrifying prospect when you consider how frighteningly talented she was and how wasted those talents would have been in future decades.

That is one of the saddest things I've read in quite awhile...but oh so accurate. She had seen the writing on the wall in regard to her "outside venture" in 1979 and early 1980.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Which goes to show that, despite the sheer class of that last one, their TV specials were now also starting to flop and not even the inclusion of Ella Fitzgerald could tempt the viewers in by 1980. It’s not really surprising when the Nelson Riddle Orchestra is featured on the billing for the show. They were simply out of touch with mainstream tastes by then.

I’ve long since held the view that the 1980s would have seen them turn into an act similar to Barry Manilow: release an album every couple of years, a few singles now and again that don’t chart - but that’s ok because the albums would sell moderately well on the back of continued successful tours - and that’s about it. In the same limited duo format, with a label, family and brother unable or unwilling to support her with outside ventures, that was the stultifying future that awaited her. Which is a horrifying prospect when you consider how frighteningly talented she was and how wasted those talents would have been in future decades.

In broad terms, I think you're probably right re what their likely trajectory would have been in the 1980s, barring some outside curveball chance of being part of a successful soundtrack.

While they'd have doubtless retained some form of hardcore audience, I'm not even sure they'd have been on a level with Barry Manilow, who was to a big extent supported in his leaner years by his stereotypical but loyal middle-aged housewife fanbase (the same one that has kept Cliff Richard going in the UK for at least 20 years if not longer) - the Carpenters didn't have such an identifiable fanbase by 1981.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
In broad terms, I think you're probably right re what their likely trajectory would have been in the 1980s, barring some outside curveball chance of being part of a successful soundtrack.

Do you mean for Karen...or the duo? Because there’s a big difference. Had Karen been offered something, say in 1985, would it have been any different to what she experienced in early 1980? It’s not a dig at Richard, I’m genuinely interested how long they would have kept the tight unit together before realising there may possibly be life outside of it.

While they'd have doubtless retained some form of hardcore audience, I'm not even sure they'd have been on a level with Barry Manilow, who was to a big extent supported in his leaner years by his stereotypical but loyal middle-aged housewife fanbase (the same one that has kept Cliff Richard going in the UK for at least 20 years if not longer) - the Carpenters didn't have such an identifiable fanbase by 1981.

I think what would have come into play there is the loyal fan base they had in the UK and elsewhere when it comes to live touring. Had they kept on with touring into their fifties and sixties, I’ve absolutely no doubt the audiences internationally would have been there for them, as they have been for Neil Sedaka, Dionne Warwick, Eagles and many others.
 
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