Karen #123 in Rolling Stone's 200 Greatest Singers of All Time

Can we just all agree that RS isn't even relevant anymore? On a list of any "relevency" today, RS wouldn't even make #123. With advent of social media and other technical advances, who the heck needs RS? Just watch YouTube is you want to see how Carpenters are viewed today. In short, RS just doesn't matter.

I'm not sure to what extent any form of music press is relevant in the age of the internet and social media, nor how it's possible to rank objectively something that is subjective by definition. I agree with Ed that these rankings exist to encourage clicks, though I was perplexed that the description of a singer included in a Best of All Time list was so ungracious. As Samar says, and as we've seen so many times in the past, such comments say more about the reviewer than the artist.
In addition to the countless compliments of her "beautiful" or "incomparable" or "angel-like" voice quality or tone, one of the most frequently heard and seen comments about Karen's singing style is that it was so simple, that she made it look so easy, that her vocal performances were effortless, that it seemed she was almost talking, and doing so directly and intimately to you.

This was somewhat surprising to me when I started to run across it in comments because I had never thought of it that way exactly. I had always just taken for granted that she was this immensely gifted singer who was naturally endowed with talent way beyond and far above the ordinary. But I got to thinking about this "effortless" description and why so many were using that term - why they saw or perceived this quality as one of the most distinguishing characteristics of her vocal technique or style.

And I think it really is true that her singing style does give a strong impression of being effortless, and this has very much to do with her wonderful gift and her incredible talent, in the sense that, as the old time-honored adage has it, only a master of a certain craft can make it look so easy, while that craft is so difficult or nearly impossible for the rest of us mere mortals. Karen was indeed a natural master of her craft, the high art of singing a song.

Two basic features of her vocal style made this "effortless impression" not only possible, but inevitable - first, she sang principally within herself, that is, within her ideal vocal range, the contralto range, which for her was not only warm and rich and resonant but also so natural, and easy and effortless; and second, it was the things as a stylist that she didn't do, such as a lot of wild, crazy, pointless vocal gymnastics that she would have had to strain for and would have required a lot of effort to achieve (like so many, maybe most modern female singers feel obligated to try). I think she had the instinct as a pro to realize that the gymnastics would have largely destroyed or distracted from the effects that her gorgeous tone made on everyone. And way beyond that, Karen was the product of a concentrated and long-running training program in how to properly and professionally sing a song that started when she was very young and continued all through her youth listening for countless hours to the very best singers (female and male) on the many records in their basement as they grew up. These singers used primarily only subtle nuances in their vocal performances and Karen learned to do the same, perfecting the idea that less is more.

Karen's singing was effortless - and that's what made it so very "listenable" and the only way she or we would have it.
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