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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.

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Even though most of agree that Karen peaked vocally by the mid 70's, she still never sang badly after that. Physically she certainly wasn't in top form anymore. I imagine she had to make adjustments to work with the power and strength she had. She didn't play drums on recordings much anymore, her singing became gentler, vocals needed to be beefed up with choirs and background singers to get that Carpenters sound.

I still think her singing was amazing coming in to the 1980's, and had she been in a better place, her voice would of remained strong into the next couple decades.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I agree, Jarred! Karen had such amazing talent to be able to interpret songs in so many different ways. But her deeper, more powerful voice is always the one that affects me the most.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
If you listen to her vocals on a song like Eve and then compare it with the opening vocal of A Song For You from the 1980 TV special, there’s absolutely no comparison. The quality is still there but the power behind the voice was much weakened by 1980.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
If you listen to her vocals on a song like Eve and then compare it with the opening vocal of A Song For You from the 1980 TV special, there’s absolutely no comparison. The quality is still there but the power behind the voice was much weakened by 1980.
Do you mean Without A Song? :)
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
If you listen to her vocals on a song like Eve and then compare it with the opening vocal of A Song For You from the 1980 TV special, there’s absolutely no comparison. The quality is still there but the power behind the voice was much weakened by 1980.
The power certainly wasn’t there, but was it a conscious choice or was it that she willfully couldn’t do it anymore? I’ve been told by someone with a musically trained ear that on her solo recordings he hears a thinning of tone, not range, that by 1979 irreversible damage had been done. Then on a YouTube comment for her solo outtakes someone ruefully remarked that her body, trying to maintain ordinary functions with greater difficulty now, wasn’t up to the task of allowing her the power vocally. That her life force was slowly already flickering out.

I think since 1976 she consciously chose an even measured approach, but by 79/80 she maybe wanted to use more power but couldn’t, or it just didn’t naturally come out like it did in 1969 on Eve. On Someday, like we’ve mentioned recently here before, in 1969 she lets that last “someday” soar over the strings and such with such expansive urgency that, in 1980, even with her voice developed, now feels meek.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
At the very beginning ASFY is sung.
Thanks! I didn't recall that, or maybe everything I've seen has that part cut out. Wish these specials were available in good quality to listen and watch. This one was my favorite, it was all about the music!
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member

^Quality of the footage is what is it, but point taken that ASFY doesn't have that same power behind it like we hear on record.

I think the jury is out on what Karen could choose vocally or not.
By the time of "Top of the World" 1981... that's not her choosing to sing soft or have to gasp for air.

Remember the C's didn't practise a lot and Karen stated she just walked out on stage and sang.
She said didn't know there was any vocal warmups or exercises you could do to strengthen the voice.
I'm sure she could easily get the power back and gain richer tone, but when you've always been gifted and told you can sing well why would she?
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
It's not uncommon for a singers voice to change a lot after their debut.

The voice changes due to aging, stress, sickness, lifestyle or what's going on in their lives at any given time... many reasons.
Examples: Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick...

But we enjoy it anyways.

Karen would be one of those legends that you just let it be.
You don't tell a soulful woman how to do things. Lol It's just how it is.

But, yeah through vocal training/coaching or therapy she could get the strength and tone back.
Who knows maybe she'd take influence from someone like Celine Dion who still does her vocal warm ups and all.
 

goodjeans

Active Member
Even though most of agree that Karen peaked vocally by the mid 70's, she still never sang badly after that. Physically she certainly wasn't in top form anymore. I imagine she had to make adjustments to work with the power and strength she had. She didn't play drums on recordings much anymore, her singing became gentler, vocals needed to be beefed up with choirs and background singers to get that Carpenters sound.

I still think her singing was amazing coming in to the 1980's, and had she been in a better place, her voice would of remained strong into the next couple decades.
...agreed.
"We can beat around the bushes; we can get down to the bone
We can leave it in the parkin' lot, but either way
There's gonna be a ..." Karen sang on Olivia's Hollywood Nights Special, 1980. Strong, vibrant and fun.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
If you listen to her vocals on a song like Eve and then compare it with the opening vocal of A Song For You from the 1980 TV special, there’s absolutely no comparison. The quality is still there but the power behind the voice was much weakened by 1980.
Here is the intro to A Song For You, Karen lip synching that was used on the final tv special from 1980 MMM. The last part of this outtake when the producer says perfect is what was the final cut and used on the tv show.

 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
...agreed.
"We can beat around the bushes; we can get down to the bone
We can leave it in the parkin' lot, but either way
There's gonna be a ..." Karen sang on Olivia's Hollywood Nights Special, 1980. Strong, vibrant and fun.
Don’t forget, ‘Turn out the light, we’ll get it right!’, which Karen sings solo BEFORE the camera cuts to her. 😀
She sounds awesome.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Karen sounded strong in the Olivia Hollywood Nights Special.
Now, returning to Music, Music, Music...it seems to me that the song, Sing,
is performed in a higher key than any previous incarnation (1973, 1976)....
In particular, compare the three versions of Sing: 1973, 1976 Medley, 1980 Medley.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
See Karen could even handle a rock song like "Heartache Tonight." I think Karen, Olivia and Toni held their ground, of course for Tina, this was a piece of cake! At that point it was just great to hear Karen's voice, just wishing she could of sang something more. She looked great most of 1980, she acted like a young woman living life!
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
See Karen could even handle a rock song like "Heartache Tonight." I think Karen, Olivia and Toni held their ground, of course for Tina, this was a piece of cake! At that point it was just great to hear Karen's voice, just wishing she could of sang something more. She looked great most of 1980, she acted like a young woman living life!
There also was a lady from the Shake Your Groove Thing, fame that was in this clip that I failed to mention. Is her name Peaches? She also seemed quite confident as a performer.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I agree with nevillefan. 1978 was a particularly good year for Karen vocals. Having battled her illness for 3 years and to come up with such great performances defies logic. You would think her voice would be suffering, but she blows us away with her vocal performances on the Christmas Portrait album! I have put Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas currently at #2 of my all time favorite Karen vocals (after Solitaire). It is executed magnificently by her.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
I agree with nevillefan. 1978 was a particularly good year for Karen vocals. Having battled her illness for 3 years and to come up with such great performances defies logic. You would think her voice would be suffering, but she blows us away with her vocal performances on the Christmas Portrait album! I have put Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas currently at #2 of my all time favorite Karen vocals (after Solitaire). It is executed magnificently by her.
1978 was a good year for Karen as a vocalist. She was still growing and using many ranges of her voice. I can see why she wanted to do a solo project in 1979. With the Christmas project being more solo than Carpenters, it gave Karen some confidence that she could do this, with or without Richard. I'm glad she was able to experiment a bit in 1978-79 even if it was after her alleged "peak" earlier in the decade!
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
I agree with nevillefan. 1978 was a particularly good year for Karen vocals. Having battled her illness for 3 years and to come up with such great performances defies logic. You would think her voice would be suffering, but she blows us away with her vocal performances on the Christmas Portrait album! I have put Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas currently at #2 of my all time favorite Karen vocals (after Solitaire). It is executed magnificently by her.
Those are my two favorite Karen performances as well. Her vocal on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is so divine. I doubt we'll ever hear such perfection ever again in our lives.
Speaking of Karen's vocals, Sean Hayes mentioned Karen's breath control abilities on tonight's episode of America's Got Talent when commenting on young Ansley Burns' performance. You can hear his comments at 3:08 in this clip:

 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Those are my two favorite Karen performances as well. Her vocal on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is so divine. I doubt we'll ever hear such perfection ever again in our lives.
Speaking of Karen's vocals, Sean Hayes mentioned Karen's breath control abilities on tonight's episode of America's Got Talent when commenting on young Ansley Burns' performance. You can hear his comments at 3:08 in this clip:

Karen probably could go for five minutes!
 

goodjeans

Active Member
I agree with nevillefan. 1978 was a particularly good year for Karen vocals. Having battled her illness for 3 years and to come up with such great performances defies logic. You would think her voice would be suffering, but she blows us away with her vocal performances on the Christmas Portrait album! I have put Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas currently at #2 of my all time favorite Karen vocals (after Solitaire). It is executed magnificently by her.
Have Yourself is #1 on my list.
 
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