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The Adult Contemporary Charts

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KarenCarpenter2

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Thread Starter
Hey everyone.
I heard that the Carpenters were very popular on the adult contemporary charts. What does Adult Contemporary charts mean? Can anyone tell me how their adult comtemporary ranks compare with other music artists? and which songs were the highest on the adult comtemporary charts?

Thanks everyone!
<3 Kim
:goodie: :tongue:ig:
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I'll leave the explanation to someone else who knows more, but I do know the Carpenters did fantastically well on this chart, scoring around 15 #1's right up to Touch Me When We're Dancing.

Something In Your Eyes also did later in the 80s, which shows you Richard was still producing same high quality stuff, albeit with a different singer. Imagine what the Carpenters would have bounced back with i the 80s if things had been different!

Stephen
 

jimac51

New Member
Adult Contemporary usually refers to a Billboard magazine chart made up of reports from selected radio stations that play that type of music-easy istening or soft rock are other names this type of music goes under. In thier prime,artists like Neil Diamond,John Denver and Barry Manilow all reigned high on these charts. For many,Carpenters would be considered the quintessential AC group. Faith Hill,Celine Dion and Enrique Inglesis would be considered stars on the AC charts today. Though difficult to land on the chart today,once your on its hard to get off-Enrique has logged 85 consecutive weeks for his "Hero" and it currently charts at #14. The complete list of all Billboard AC charts from 1961 to 2001 has been compiled by Joel Whitburn and is available in print form for about 50 bucks. Mac
 

Captaindave

Well-Known Member
I would define it as the modern day term used for soft rock Top 40. Radio has changed a LOT in the last 35 years or so, and I don't think some of the terms have been around all that long.

When the Carpenters first came out on radio, they were on AM Top 40. So was Herb Alpert. But, throughout the sixties and even early seventies, that is about the only place where ALL pop music of all kinds was heard. And, I don't think there was quite the diversity of sounds and styles then as there is today. It all kind of got into Top 40. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, and just about anything else that made up the popular music of the times, were all heard on pretty much the same stations. One song followed th next and you could hear the Beatles followed by Herb Alpert. All sort of lumped together on one station...

There may have been an occasional FM rock station, but AM radio was where pop and rock music was played mostly. Some of the FM stations today play rock music that wasn't in existence back then...

The term adult contemporary wasn't in existence(I don't think - trusting my memory here) when the Carpenters made their radio debut in about 1970. This term has come into existence with the rise of FM the primary radio music format today, and the correspondening demise of AM as a music format.

It has come to distinguish where you can hear a certain type of contemporary pop music, as compared to oldies(back in the sixties, there were no oldies - even the fifties would have been played on the AM Top 40), rap, classic rock, hard rock, etc. As in other things, radio has become diversified and specialized. Years ago, IMO, radio was more or less radio, and when I was a kid back in the sixties, FM was the format my parents listend to for Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Percy Faith, Frank Sinatra, etc. Today that music is called "orchestral pop." You don't hear it much anymore anywhere.

If the Carpenters were making their debut today, I am sure it would be on adult contemporary.

Other comments would be interesting...
 

Captaindave

Well-Known Member
Just as a sort of afterthought to my post above, stations today which have the "oldies" format would be the closest thing to the AM Top 40 radio stations of the "old days,"in terms of what is played and how it is cycled. Especially those stations which haven't succumbed to playing songs from the seventies, but are still holding the line, so to speak, with the fifties and sixties, and especially the sixties.

The best "oldies" station around here is gradually giving way to adding more seventies programming. The fifties and sixties stuff is still there, but not long ago, the seventies started creeping in.... :sad:
 

Rick

Member
Captaindave said:
When the Carpenters first came out on radio, they were on AM Top 40. So was Herb Alpert. But, throughout the sixties and even early seventies, that is about the only place where ALL pop music of all kinds was heard. And, I don't think there was quite the diversity of sounds and styles then as there is today. It all kind of got into Top 40. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, and just about anything else that made up the popular music of the times, were all heard on pretty much the same stations. One song followed th next and you could hear the Beatles followed by Herb Alpert. All sort of lumped together on one station...
I miss the originality and variety of radio back in the 70's. I believe up until about 1996 The Carpenters were listed as the #1 artist of the Adult Contemporary charts.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
And in the city where I live (Phoenix), you can't hear the Carpenters on Adult Contemporary...you can't hear them on Oldies....you can't even hear them on FM in stereo. They've been relegated to the "nostalgia" station on the AM band...lumped in with the Sinatra and Peggy Lee....

---Michael Hagerty
 

Rudy

ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ
Staff member
Site Admin
Michael Hagerty said:
And in the city where I live (Phoenix), you can't hear the Carpenters on Adult Contemporary...you can't hear them on Oldies....you can't even hear them on FM in stereo. They've been relegated to the "nostalgia" station on the AM band...lumped in with the Sinatra and Peggy Lee....
No doubt...that's the situation here as well. Sucks, really...there is a lot of good music that gets relegated to your basic low-powered AM radio nostalgia station.
 

Captaindave

Well-Known Member
The radio station that I find myself listening to most nowadays is the same one that my clock radio is tuned to for getting up in the morning - and it's an AM station that is mostly playing the nostalgia format mentioned above - it also gives local news and weather - and it plays a wide variety of oldies and nostalgia music of just about everything imaginable. I have heard Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes, Baja Marimba Band, Carpenters, and just about anything and everything else you could name.

But it is AM, and this station has been on the air for at least 50 years...it was on there when the oldies from the fifties and sixties were the "newbies..."
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
And there's nothing wrong with those stations...other than that they should be on FM, too. The original argument (15 or 20 years ago) was that the target audience didn't have FM radios in their cars. They do now. The secondary argument (10 or 15 years ago) was that a chunk of the music was mono. But as the format has evolved, there's precious little material that they play that isn't available in stereo. Especially galling given how much work Richard Carpenter put into his mixes.

---Michael Hagerty
 

mr J.

Active Member
The Carpenters weren't "relegated" to the nostalgia stations with Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee,they were always there to begin with!Karen and Richard were never really "contemporary",and they never claimed to be.Even here in New York,the only station that plays Karen Carpenter is WLIX-a jazz/lounge/easy listening station that also generally plays Sinatra,Streisand,Manilow,Ella Fitzgerald,Tony Bennett,etc.Honestly,it would be a real stretch to even try to get songs like "For All We Know","Rainy Days And Mondays"and "This Masquerade" onto todays Adult Contemporary stations!Although AC stations play a heavy rotation of ballads,they still want to play music that is "modern" and "contemporary".I couldn't imagine hearing Karen Carpenter on the same station with Gloria Estefan,Cher,Taylor Dayne,Ricky Martin,etc.In fact, most record stores stock Karen's albums in the VOCAL section,not the POP/ROCK section.It's obvious that even record stores don't classify her as a regular pop singer.
 

Rudy

ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ
Staff member
Site Admin
What bothers me about the local so-called "nostalgia" station (which actually comes across the river from Canada) is that Carpenters and other A&M artists are played alongside a lot of those sappy instrumental-type "muzak" tunes that I can't stand. I have a soft spot for GOOD instrumental music (think Mancini), not to mention pop standards, but it seems like an insult to everything else to stick all this good music in with dentist office music.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Rudy:
That's how I feel. Mr. J's right about the Carpenters having gotten play when new on middle-of-the-road stations (save possibly "Goodbye To Love")...but the music that those stations played at that time (1970-1975) was very different from what they're playing now. A lot of songs the Carpenters are sharing space with were long gone from those stations' libraries during the 70s.
I have to disagree with Mr. J about the Carpenters being "never really contemporary". Nine of their first 10 singles (not counting "Merry Christmas Darling") were top 10 hits at KHJ, Los Angeles (which I grew up listening to). One ("Close To You") was number one, and five ("We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Superstar", "Hurting Each Other" and "Yesterday Once More") were top 5.
Nationally(on the Billboard charts), the Carpenters were even stronger:

Close To You: #1
We've Only Just Begun: #2
For All We Know: #3
Rainy Days & Mondays: #2
Superstar: #2
Hurting Each Other: #2
It's Going To Take Some Time: #12
Goodbye To Love: #7
Sing: #3
Yesterday Once More: #2

(and beyond their first 10 singles)

Top Of The World: #1
I Won't Last A Day Without You: #11
Please Mr. Postman: #1
Only Yesterday: #4

As a former Adult Contemporary programmer I can tell you...you don't get numbers like that from Adult Contemporary listeners alone. Fact is, the Carpenters were a major Top 40 group in the first half of the 1970s, and ought to at least be getting FM oldies play today.

---Michael Hagerty
 

PJ

Member
Carpenters Never Contemporary ? :o

Carpenters Billboard Top #100 Placings were as Succesful Due to Radio Airplay as Sales. Billboard Always Placed Too Much Emphasis on Radio , Whereas Cashbox and Record World Focused on Sales :o

Richard and Karen Both Indicated that Singles Success Declined On Billboard Due to Radio Resistance From 1976 /1977 Onwards.There is an Interview in Randy Schmidt's Yesterday Once More Book that Details Carpenters Radio Issues ..... :confused:

Carpenters were Never on Nostalgia Stations in 1970's / 1980's.....Shame USA Radio is So Rigid and Moribund Re : Labels and Types of Music :sad:

Peter
 

jimac51

New Member
The reason why Carpenters wind up being played on some formats and not on others is due to polling information the stations get from surveys. If the demographic they are shooting for will not tune away-they're in. Clear Channel in Philly returned to a Sunny format- Soft Rock,no currents but music brushes up against the '80s-and there are a few Carpenters selections there. In less than a year,WSNI has gone from a 1.8(when they were a Hot AC format-uptempo and current) in the Arbitrons to a high 3,almost a 4-not bad in a very competive market still dominated by news radio and a Talk AM is # 10. I still hate CC and every business they touch curdles,but they DO play Carpenters and attracting some listeners. Mac
 

Rudy

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Staff member
Site Admin
It does seem a shame that so much of 70's music that was "pop" back then doesn't even get play on AC, soft rock or oldies stations today. I have been listening to the oldies station via satellite (Music Choice on DirecTV), and gosh, they really DO play oldies, stuff that I don't hear on what passes for an oldies station in Detroit (which always seems to be the same old tired Motown crap that I hate). It's an ear-opener to say the least. It's a bit "old" to be playing A&M, but they surprise me sometimes too!
 

stefandaystrom

New Member
Captaindave said:
I would define it as the modern day term used for soft rock Top 40. Radio has changed a LOT in the last 35 years or so, and I don't think some of the terms have been around all that long.

When the Carpenters first came out on radio, they were on AM Top 40. So was Herb Alpert. But, throughout the sixties and even early seventies, that is about the only place where ALL pop music of all kinds was heard. And, I don't think there was quite the diversity of sounds and styles then as there is today. It all kind of got into Top 40. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, and just about anything else that made up the popular music of the times, were all heard on pretty much the same stations. One song followed th next and you could hear the Beatles followed by Herb Alpert. All sort of lumped together on one station...

There may have been an occasional FM rock station, but AM radio was where pop and rock music was played mostly. Some of the FM stations today play rock music that wasn't in existence back then...

The term adult contemporary wasn't in existence(I don't think - trusting my memory here) when the Carpenters made their radio debut in about 1970. This term has come into existence with the rise of FM the primary radio music format today, and the correspondening demise of AM as a music format.

It has come to distinguish where you can hear a certain type of contemporary pop music, as compared to oldies(back in the sixties, there were no oldies - even the fifties would have been played on the AM Top 40), rap, classic rock, hard rock, etc. As in other things, radio has become diversified and specialized. Years ago, IMO, radio was more or less radio, and when I was a kid back in the sixties, FM was the format my parents listend to for Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Percy Faith, Frank Sinatra, etc. Today that music is called "orchestral pop." You don't hear it much anymore anywhere.

If the Carpenters were making their debut today, I am sure it would be on adult contemporary.

Other comments would be interesting...
A number of comments:

- Formats existed in the 60s and 70s, but there wasn't a radio-specific industry paper yet then, and there wasn't as consistent use of the terms. When R&R arrived in the later 70s, that was the big factor that led to naming formats more or less consistently (tho R&R and Billboard from that time on have often had different terms for the same format).

- The predecessor to adult comtemporary (AC) was MOR (middle of the road). These were stations that played both contemporary and "classic" stuff, both singles and album tracks, aimed at adult audiences. Some examples of very successful ones which kept going well into the 70s would be KMPC Los Angeles and WMAL Washington DC. AC was a singles-only spinoff of MOR, which didn't get a separate name until many years after it became common. One of the earliest examples was WASH FM in Washington DC. Everuntually the album-playing MORs faded and AC became the only game in town playing that kind of music. (But, of course, "that kind of music" changed with the times.)

- There were many early Carpenters songs which were played more on MOR and AC stations than on top 40. And by the late 60s, there were many TJB songs that were ONLY getting airplay on MOR (especially, because of their acceptance of albums and instrumentals) and sometimes on AC.

- There were oldies in the 60s. Even in the earlier 60s, there were "solid gold weekends" on top 40 stations, but of course those were weekend focuses rather than separate stations. Distinct stations playing oldies (initially in rather quirky balances, initially often AC-leaning) started to appear by the mid to late 60s in a few markets (KWIZ Santa Ana CA in Orange County is one of the very earliest I know of, but WMOD in Washington DC became the big FM oldies success in the later 70s that got the industry's attention). It's true, tho, that many cities didn't get oldies stations (at least big-signaled ones that anyone noticed) until the early 70s (several CBS FM O&Os went to mainstream oldies around 1972).

- Similarly, there were freeform rock stations by the mid 60s, tho only in a few cities at first (KMPX San Francisco in early 67, by later 67 or early to mid 68 quite a few big cities had them). These "cross-faded" into album rock (aka AOR) stations over the course of the 70s. (Then late in the 70s they split into about three formats.)

- There were also "always" R&B stations (now called urban) and country stations. I also remember there being gospel stations (in some cities) already in the late 60s. And of course there were "beautiful music" (all instrumental, what you called "orchestral pop") stations, there were jazz stations in certain cities (not "smooth" at all, sounding more like KLON does these days), and much more classical than there is now.

- There are still a handful of beautiful music stations, mostly in areas where there are lots of retirees. The best is probably KWXY in the Palm Springs area, which IDs all the songs (meaning they don't use nameless orchestral rerecordings, which is what made so many of the beautiful music stations of the 70s and early 80s sound so horrid), and they don't stick just to "lush" (ie, they also plass TJB), and they play close to 50% vocals (and tho that includes some "chorus" vocals, it also includes Carpenters and Brasil 66 and such). There's also BM stations around Naples FL, Boston, Portland ME, as well as several "middle of nowhere" (far from big cities) places in the center of the country as well as noncomm ones in several places in the southeast.

- Whether kids listened to AM or FM varied by market. You're right in that they listened to top 40. But in some cities the dominant top 40 was a daytimer (very notably WPGC in the Washington DC area). By the mid 60s, these stations were allowed to simulcast on an FM (before the mid 60s, the FCC had more restrictions on simulcasts), and in DC, by the turn of the decade WPGC had driven many/most kids to get FM radios (because in the winter that was the only way they could listen to their favorite top 40 station after 4:45 pm!).

Obviously, in other cities where the AM station was a 50000 watt "clear channel" AM giant (most notably WABC New York), the opposite happened, where people stuck with listening to top 40 mostly on AM until about a decade later.

In many cities, the situation was somewhere in between, and top 40 (as well as AC) shifted to FM sometime during the 70s.
 
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