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Karen’s Vocal Peak

In which year was Karen at her absolute vocal peak...and why?

  • 1969

  • 1970

  • 1971

  • 1972

  • 1973

  • 1974

  • 1975

  • 1976

  • 1977

  • 1978

  • 1979

  • 1980

  • 1981

  • 1982


Results are only viewable after voting.

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
Another thread about when Karen reached her peak vocally made me think a poll would be fun. In which year do you think she reached her vocal peak and why? I chose 1969-1982 because this is the period in which she was signed to A&M and professionally recorded as a vocalist.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Another thread about when Karen reached her peak vocally made me think a poll would be fun. In which year do you think she reached her vocal peak and why? I chose 1969-1982 because this is the period in which she was signed to A&M and professionally recorded as a vocalist.
Hey, that’s a cop out! I would say maybe 1973-75 there was a particular richness that developed further but still had her stridentcy that changed in the later 70s when she focused more on the languid phrasing. I’m always satisfied by her voice no matter what era (before 70s peak richness and the later vocal style) so I’m never left feeling emotionally unnourished, which is something that I can’t say for other singers I love.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I go with 1975, in particular, I know that the song
Trying To Get The Feeling Again
is a one-take vocal lead. And, that settles it for me !
Additionally, listening to Harry's recording from concert of April 1975,
Only Yesterday, reinforces my decision.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
Hey, that’s a cop out! I would say maybe 1973-75 there was a particular richness that developed further but still had her stridentcy that changed in the later 70s when she focused more on the languid phrasing.
If we did “periods” like ‘73-‘75, the poll list would have gone on forever :laugh:. It’s just for fun and pick a song that supports your choice :)
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
I said 1975 as the peak, but I think she was still growing as a vocalist to the end of the 70's, but not the "powerhouse" she was in the former.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
When was she not at her peak? You can go along all the years provided and pick out something that was excellent. It's really tough to pick a specific year. I'm picking 1973 based on This Masquerade, Yesterday Once More, her great performances in the N&T oldies medley; Johnny Angel, The End Of The World, Our Day Will Come. But in 1978 she puts out a crazy good vocal performance like she did with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas?! There never will be another one like her. She was the best!
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I said 1975 as the peak, but I think she was still growing as a vocalist to the end of the 70's, but not the "powerhouse" she was in the former.
She definitely utilized a different vocal approach post 1975 where she didn’t use the power in her voice so much. The strength of power we hear on Desperado was subdued in subsequent years, where her focus was on the nuance of lyric first as opposed to the general moods/emotion, so to speak. It was less “direct” after 75. Both are absolutely astounding approaches but she did show a bit more her abilities earlier on.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I think some are singling out 1973 because it was the last year of their albums with their “classic” baroque sound/songs, and the peak of their cultural and commercial popularity. A chapter closed for them in 1975 with Horizon and OY, but 73 was the first shift in the wind, and unfairly so.
 

Malu Makana

The Fidler Angel
1972 for me. The live Australian tour video. Just effortless perfection. You can only really gage in live performance.
 

Kyle Thomas

Member
I pick 1975 because I think her vocals on Horizon are the best for any album. That said, 1972-73 -- the rerecorded Ticket to Ride, Top of the World, This Masquerade, and Yesterday Once More -- shows her strength as well.

Of all songs she sings, I think her voice never sounded better than on the slow "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which I believe was recorded in 1972, although released in 1974. So... I guess I'm fudging a bit and saying that the 1972-75 period, where the huskiness of her early voice had diminished and before the mellowness and thinness of the later 70's began to show.

But to pick a year, it's got to be 1975 for me.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
In response to "when was she not at her peak," one needs listen to
the live performances of Touch Me When We're Dancing (1981)
or the Julio Iglesias Top of the World, to hear that every year is inequivalent.
Not to mention a vocal comparison of 1969's Ticket to Ride to 1973's Ticket To Ride.
Someday 1969 versus Someday on the 1980 MMM TV Special....night and day.
In other words, Karen's vocals did change through the years.
I stay with 1975. Live and in-studio, top of her form to my ears.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Since we had to pick one year, the live vocals in 1974 are awesome, and since I feel 73-75 were her absolute best I choose right in the middle. 1978 was also a stellar year. And in 1977, I Just Fall in Love Again should have been a released single. It was their strongest song since Horizon to me! Listen to the final edit on the RPO edition!
 

Sabar

Member
A difficult question. Others made a good case for the years they picked. I picked 1978 to be different, and because I think Christmas Portrait has some of her best vocal work.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
A difficult question. Others made a good case for the years they picked. I picked 1978 to be different, and because I think Christmas Portrait has some of her best vocal work.
I also think 1978 was a banner year for Karen as a vocalist. She was still growing and Christmas Portrait aided in that process.
Plus some of the pop sides the Carpenters recorded that year had very engaging vocals by Karen.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Not to mention a vocal comparison of 1969's Ticket to Ride to 1973's Ticket To Ride.
Someday 1969 versus Someday on the 1980 MMM TV Special....night and day.
Her 1973 TTR vocal shows just how much she developed over four years and it’s a glorious performance, but with “Someday” I actually much prefer her 1969 lead. I know we only get a bit of the 1980 recording but I live for the raw huskiness and power she puts into that desperate lyric when she was 19. She perfectly matches the towering, sweeping melody/orchestration, but she grounds it with her signature intimacy. The 1980 one in full sounds like it would have been too smooth, too bloodless even if it’s technically richer.

And I know the story about her not liking the 69 cut because she had a cold (and fans have noticed this too), but I don’t really hear it or at least it doesn’t bother me and adds to her performance even.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
I love this....
Karen's recorded vocal range. It's quite a stark contrast when you hear the low notes in the first half then the high notes at the end
She simply amazing, and no one can call her a one-note wonder! I think she is enjoyable in all her ranges and styles. She is such a natural born singer. Great (audio) video Simon, thanks for sharing this. Very good addition to this thread!
 

Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Simon--that is simply a BRILLIANT video! Curious if Chris or any of our other musical notation experts can place the location of the high harmonies in "Help!", which always seems to me as though it's up in the highest ranges. (While I'm glad it wasn't their second single, I also think it's a song that deserves a lot more love than it tends to receive...)

I picked 1970 because it is the year when it all first comes together--the variety and range of singing on CLOSE TO YOU still blows me away every time I hear it. The "peak" is many different peaks, changing as time went on, as she rose to the occasion of the material. The video is incontrovertible proof that she was--is---always will be--the GREATEST ever. (And I love that the video creator was such a fan of "Bwana"--it gets a well-deserved showcase, as a great track in its own right and as a vehicle for a entirely different style/timbre for Karen.)
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
I picked 1978 to be different, and because I think Christmas Portrait has some of her best vocal work.
I also think 1978 was a banner year for Karen as a vocalist. She was still growing and Christmas Portrait aided in that process.
Plus some of the pop sides the Carpenters recorded that year had very engaging vocals by Karen.
Opting here for 1977/78. Her performances on the Christmas recordings are stunning.
I voted for 1978 also, although 1973 is a close runner up. Her vocals on Christmas Portrait and standards like Little Girl Blue and When I Fall In Love really make it clear just how much she'd grown in stature as a vocalist by the time she was 28. Slow Dance, whilst not a demanding vocal, just has an incredibly yearning quality about it and is also a favourite of mine.
 

Kacfan

Member
I voted for 1978 also, although 1973 is a close runner up. Her vocals on Christmas Portrait and standards like Little Girl Blue and When I Fall In Love really make it clear just how much she'd grown in stature as a vocalist by the time she was 28. Slow Dance, whilst not a demanding vocal, just has an incredibly yearning quality about it and is also a favourite of mine.
Listening again to white Christmas, Chris is born, little alter boy, and also you are the one, and I just fall in love again (rpo), I would also like to add 1977 to my earlier vote for 1973.
 
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