• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

What are The Carpenters known for today?

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WYBIMLA

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Thread Starter
As we will head into a new year 40+ years after The Carpenters debut I'm thinking about this question... They did leave behind such an incredible legacy as a nice, decent duo with a great harmony sound.

I consider the music industry in recent years... with it's sharp/clear digitalized sound and a lot of pop stars belting their way to the top of the charts... and I wonder where my dearest most favourite and treasured artists fit in.

Over the past few decades in popular culture "Close to you" seems to have staying power, and possibly strong memories of "We've only just begun" for those wedded at the time of it's release.
Along with the use of "Top of the world" in film (Shrek 2010/Dark shadows 2012).
When Richard's reign over the catalogue allows such use.

And as we approach the Christmas season it will undoubtedly be a time for older artists to shine.
It's exciting to think that Karen's voice will be played once more or see "Christmas portrait" appear on store shelves again. Although, I haven't seen that near me yet.

Based on spars oldies radio play or songs you hear while shopping "Rainydays and Mondays" or "Superstar" would be up there too with a few others probably like "Yesterday once more".

You look at "ICON" and that might be all some of today's public may be aware of... or not at all.

As a fan, I know Carpenters were much more diverse/eclectic with their music than the lasting impression of the buying public. They did cross into different styles and sometimes languages. "Soft rock/pop" seems to be the all encompassing decided term to describe them which is fair, and categorizing their music as "Love songs" with vague memories of country-tinged music and hot topic sic-fi inspired production.

Carpenters have a bit of a mixed message of wanting to make people happy which they did and still do while at the same time providing those chilling sorrowful/reflective pieces.

Visually there's some nice things left behind, but also some cringe inducing moments (you don't have to dig too far) and obvious tragedy associated with the name.

Is it just me or is this actually a hard question to answer?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I've found over the past 2 decades, since the late-90's a number of the "artists" that have come on the music have sounded the same---there seems to be no variety. Ever since Brittany Spears was on the charts in the 90's, it seems like all the female singers sing in that high falsetto, extremely breathy with no emotion voice. Even the "pop" music that they sing to is very much a carbon copy of every other hit that's come out in recent years. And sometime you even have to wonder what the artists were doing when they were recording the song.

However, recently I've heard the Carpenters on the radio at Wal-Mart, and it's amazing how, even if they are love songs and ballads, the Carpenters were able to change their style on a number of their songs. With "Close To You" you have a shuffle style beat, then with "We've Only Just Begun" and then "I Won't Last A Day Without You" you've got a very upbeat song about how much brighter the future will be with someone by your side. And with Karen's Alto voice, it sets the Carpenters apart.

And with it being Christmas, I seem to hear played a lot the Carpenters version of "The Christmas Song" (and I even sung it on stage in high school back in the early-2000's during a Christmas concert), "Merry Christmas, Darling", "Carol of The Bells", along with, occasionally Richard's medley from the Old-Fashioned Christmas album (Here Comes Santa Claus/Frost The Snowman/Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer/Good King Wenceslas), (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays, I'll Be Home For Christmas and The Christmas Waltz. I used to hear as well the Carpenters version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" over the closing credits of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade on Global TV, but Global no longer has the rights to the parade, and the last time I heard the song over the credits was back around 2004-2005.
 

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
When it comes to this conversation, Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs" comes to mind here: "some people want to fill the world with silly love songs...and what's wrong with that? I'd like to know."

I don't think they're silly, of course -- but many people did back then. Unfortunately I think the Carpenters are always going to have the "sappy love songs" tag stuck on them; it's a shame, really. I don't even think that they deserve the easy listening name sometimes. Their sound is soft, yes, but it's so intricate -- when I listen to their music, I am immersed in layers of strings and harmonies: parts that you don't often hear with one listen (and sadly it seems a lot of folks don't even give that). Obviously, Karen's vocal hooked a generation with her delicate phrasing and that intimate quality that allows it to feel as if she is singing just to you. Beyond that, however, the Carpenters made music that appealed to everybody: kids, older people and a heck of a lot of closet teenager fans (c'mon, you know who you are :) ). The way their sound was, it was reminiscent of older days and, at the same time, fresh and new. It's interesting because I think a lot of their material has outlasted disco and other trends they were charting with, wouldn't you say?

Based on the big appeal they have and I believe they maintain, it baffles me why their ratings are so low with radio programmers; why more of their catalog (save for Christmas, which is well-deserved) doesn't get play. Still, I hope that the PBS release continues to stir up that "Carpenters revolution"...
 
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WYBIMLA

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Thread Starter
It's not easy to pull off the contrast between ballads and your uptempo numbers.
Karen provided such a level of emotional depth on both sides.
That's part of what makes a great artist great in addition to having "the voice".
You can have a great voice and maybe not do so well on a ballad but great on a dance tune and vice versa.
With the level of production/quality they had where you do pick up on different things upon multiple listens...
It is a shame with what they accomplished they don't get as much play as we'd like.
And how can you get to know them these days if they're not getting played?
At least there was something like "Celebrating the Carpenters" years ago now, and some coverage of their music.
But of course no one does it better than they did.
I guess I got luckily I was old enough when the "20th century masters" series was coming out that I found them, and over the years ultimately heard their entire discography. I hope with "ICON" and anything else (documentaries airing) they can continue to be remembered and re-discovered.
 
It's not easy to pull off the contrast between ballads and your uptempo numbers.
Karen provided such a level of emotional depth on both sides.
That's part of what makes a great artist great in addition to having "the voice".
You can have a great voice and maybe not do so well on a ballad but great on a dance tune and vice versa.
With the level of production/quality they had where you do pick up on different things upon multiple listens...
It is a shame with what they accomplished they don't get as much play as we'd like.
And how can you get to know them these days if they're not getting played?
At least there was something like "Celebrating the Carpenters" years ago now, and some coverage of their music.
But of course no one does it better than they did.
I guess I got luckily I was old enough when the "20th century masters" series was coming out that I found them, and over the years ultimately heard their entire discography. I hope with "ICON" and anything else (documentaries airing) they can continue to be remembered and re-discovered.
I discovered the Carpenters because of their Christmas music. You always hear Karens voice during the holiday season....and then I liked her voice so much that I searched and discovered more of their hits. Do have to say though, Merry Christmas, Darling is my all-time favorite Carpenters hit.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I almost forgot the oldies! Lol That is part of the legacy.
However, missing on the latest compilation that I've seen (ICON).
That's all I've seen pretty much on store shelves lately along with the first singles album ('69-'73).

To add, I just wanted to note the rarity of "crooners" these days. If you wanted to fit Karen in that category...

Either they're aged, retired, or it's a posthumous release. There's just not that many contemporary ones.
I'm not dismissing the aged performers cause some of them still sound good.

The word novelty was used describing the albums put out by Seth Macfarlane.
And the only other I can think of that's made it famous in recent years would be Michael Buble.
It's too bad in a way. It's an area that's lacking, imo.
And maybe it's been "Over-covered". I guess people don't write like that anymore.

It never really was trendy, but timeless as we know.

Adult contemporary/easy listening charts these days look different from what I thought it used to mean in the past.

Without a "softer side" it just makes the industry seem imbalanced, and it probably is in so many ways.

I don't want to sound like I am complaining...it's just... I wonder if it would even be possible for someone with a unique softer sound to chart these days?

This isn't true in all cases... but it seems recent years in music has brought us more aggressive, inauthentic, yelling, and Idk something missing... maybe I'm missing the mark with that one. There's more adjectives I could throw in but I won't. And a lot of it is targeted at a younger demographic. I'm not that connected to it and it's dissatisfying.
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
I almost forgot the oldies! Lol That is part of the legacy.
However, missing on the latest compilation that I've seen (ICON).
That's all I've seen pretty much on store shelves lately along with the first singles album ('69-'73).

To add, I just wanted to note the rarity of "crooners" these days. If you wanted to fit Karen in that category...

Either they're aged, retired, or it's a posthumous release. There's just not that many contemporary ones.
I'm not dismissing the aged performers cause some of them still sound good.

The word novelty was used describing the albums put out by Seth Macfarlane.
And the only other I can think of that's made it famous in recent years would be Michael Buble.
It's too bad in a way. It's an area that's lacking, imo.
And maybe it's been "Over-covered". I guess people don't write like that anymore.

It never really was trendy, but timeless as we know.

Adult contemporary/easy listening charts these days look different from what I thought it used to mean in the past.

Without a "softer side" it just makes the industry seem imbalanced, and it probably is in so many ways.

I don't want to sound like I am complaining...it's just... I wonder if it would even be possible for someone with a unique softer sound to chart these days?

This isn't true in all cases... but it seems recent years in music has brought us more aggressive, inauthentic, yelling, and Idk something missing... maybe I'm missing the mark with that one. There's more adjectives I could throw in but I won't. And a lot of it is targeted at a younger demographic. I'm not that connected to it and it's dissatisfying.
Adele is up and coming. And I think Harriet is on her way.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
Occasionally I'll watch "The Voice" and hear the celebrity coaches compliment a singer on his/her "runs". I don't know if I understand that term correctly, but it seems to mean stretching out a syllable and forcing it to jump between a variety of notes before settling on the one that the songwriter/s intended. Not a fan. A song isn't a trampoline. Sing the lyrics so that I can understand them; it can be done, and done with emotion, without yodeling.

I'm showing my age, right? That's OK.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Funny you mention Adele because as I wrote that I thought how she is number one right now... which kind of negates my point. Lol
I guess melancholy/chill factor comes and goes on the charts. People are having quite a response to her songs right now which is nice.

And I've never been much of a fan of the runs either. No matter how much one is feeling it.
A few here and there fine to take a chance, but it can be distracting. Like a run away train, but it keeps you tuned in for different reasons.
Nothing wrong with just singing the song, and focus attention to what was written.
 
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Harry

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Site Admin
The "runs" you speak of has a technical term of "melisma". It's part of what has ruined popular music, IMHO. Many love it - the more the merrier, but it just offends my senses.

I've heard a couple of tracks from Adele over the years and cannot for the life of me understand the popularity. She does nothing for me at all, but you can count on her new album to be number one through 2017. That's the kind of following she has. But it matters not to me - I've never been one to follow popular trends like that.

All I see in record store racks (on the rare occasion I get to one) in the Carpenters section is SINGLES 1969-1981, GOLD, and maybe ICON.

Harry
 

Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
My theory, FWIW, is that it is the early Carpenters that could re-emerge as a force in the current music world...the 1969-72 time frame is when Richard had not yet turned his back on rock and Karen remained in touch with her early "belter" style (which, while not as sublime as her subsequent incarnation, showed that she clearly had the stuff to "do it all"). The eclecticism and energy in those first four LPs show the full range of their genius and would have the best chance to push aside the lingering "party line" about them.

I still think a compilation that incorporates the material first generated during the Spectrum days, with an appropriate title (I don't think this one is quite it, but perhaps one of our many top-flight wordsmiths can make the following more succinct: "Hipper Than You Ever Knew: The Carpenters Across the Spectrum 1968-72") could open a lot of eyes. Central to such an approach would be liner notes that resolutely claim masterpiece status for two early LPs--"Close to You" and "A Song For You." I think Tom Nolan, from his "I was there at the time" perspective, might be able to pen some inspiring and persuasive prose, and it would be a treat to have Chris May provide musicological insights in tandem.

Richard made wonderful singles and (in some ways) even better "deep cuts." He should be getting accolades in a similar vein to what Brian Wilson receives!
 

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
I still think a compilation that incorporates the material first generated during the Spectrum days, with an appropriate title (I don't think this one is quite it, but perhaps one of our many top-flight wordsmiths can make the following more succinct: "Hipper Than You Ever Knew: The Carpenters Across the Spectrum 1968-72") could open a lot of eyes.
I like that actually. It could be like "Spectrum: Carpenters 1968-72".
 

JAZZ4JEFF

Active Member
I really believe that Richard's lack of involvement in keeping the Carpenters legacy alive has drastically hurt their longevity. If you look at the success the Presley estate has in keeping Elvis on peoples mind, you understand the lack of Carpenters memories. There could be a Carpenters exhibit traveling the country, a orchestra "evening with the Carpenters" concert with R.C. at the piano, a live box of their recorded concerts, a DVD of the best of the Christmas episodes, a duet album, and so much more. Barry Manilow tried to get Karen on his duets album, and was told no.

The fact that Richard has retired really puts the future of the Carpenters in jeopardy. I fear one day the name "Karen Carpenter" is just used to explain anorexia.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I would want to point out the things Rich has done for the legacy. Obviously, he wants to say "yes" to the right opportunity and not just give it up for any project that may come along. A lot of it over the past ten years he's had no interest it seems.

In comparison with other artists legacies he's been lacking on providing some things. However, we got some demos, alternate takes, Dvds, documentaries, remixes, etc. But, from what we can imagine it seems he's been holding back a fair bit.
He's wrestled with guilt of having ever put out some of the posthumous stuff which I can understand in a way, but at the same time it should still be something he can be proud of.
The perfectionism I think is what really got in the way of a lot of things.

And in a way it's things like that contributing to the public's forgetfulness of who they were.

From what I understood about Manilow's dream duets album he had the chance to hear KC's solo album and didn't think there was anything he could use. And he couldn't sing a Carpenters song because I believe he was looking for solo artists to duet with. So, non of it worked for his concept.

I'm afraid one day all you'll have is that piece of trivia about Karen dying from complications due to anorexia.
Already even when I type in her name on a site like twitter in recent years that's what you see, and it's not nice. That's the way people talk about her. Frankly I think it's disrespectful in how they've done it.
I don't think there's a comedian in the world who could make anything about that funny. It angers me.

There is credit for her beautiful singing and skillful drumming though too.

The other thing is literature that's been left behind leaves the impression of Karen as a very melancholy person, and fans know that's not entirely true.
What's under represented is the upbeat nature of who she was, and also the strength she had especially in those early years. Anyone who puts themselves out there in the music industry has to be. There's got to be drive and some aggression in the face of a tough business.
 
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ScottyB

Well-Known Member
I've been trying to instill some of the past Carpenters classics into today's society. And from what little I could do, I have been quite pleased with most of the outcome. There is a local tavern that I visit occasionally, and when I'm there, I try to make it a point to play at least one Carpenters song on the jukebox. The selection I make is usually based on the type of crowd that is present. For instance, one time, there was a crowd that was particularly interested in hearing some soft blues, and light jazz. I chose to play "This Masquerade", which immediately gained an interested ear. And when I was approached and questioned on who the artist was, I replied the Carpenters, which resulted in surprise and delight. Another time, I played "All You Get From Love Is A Love Song" & "Only Yesterday" there featuring a young crowd interested in pop, with similar favorable response. One time, with a dance and R & B crowd, I selected "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind" and "If We Try", which also received positive responses. So, I believe, given the proper exposure, the Carpenters music can thrive in today's market. I have been really quite surprised with the amount of the younger generation who appreciate and admire much of the music from the past.
 

WYBIMLA

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Thread Starter
That's great that you played those!

Fans have a part to play in keeping the legacy alive and celebrating the music.

For me I will make Carpenters selections when going out to karaoke.
And I will sing along enthusiastically when others do the same.
Or if I get the chance I will talk about Carpenters or play their music.

I can't say I've heard their songs done well in that setting. "Top of the world" or "Yesterday once more" are deceptive in that they sound easy to sing.
They aren't. I have no idea why Karen said their songs are easy to sing in a '74 interview. To her they are! Lol
But, people try to sing along anyway.
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
The "runs" you speak of has a technical term of "melisma". It's part of what has ruined popular music, IMHO. Many love it - the more the merrier, but it just offends my senses.

I've heard a couple of tracks from Adele over the years and cannot for the life of me understand the popularity. She does nothing for me at all, but you can count on her new album to be number one through 2017. That's the kind of following she has. But it matters not to me - I've never been one to follow popular trends like that.

All I see in record store racks (on the rare occasion I get to one) in the Carpenters section is SINGLES 1969-1981, GOLD, and maybe ICON.

Harry
My son tells me that he heard that Adele was channeling Karen on this newest album... Not sure if that was a quote or some hear-say... Intriguing if it is true...
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
There is definitely a sad and tragic story behind the soft pop magic duo since Karen died with a world wide awakening and Ricard was too sick to perform around the time approaching their 10th Anniversary. They never again were at their best at the same time as in the earlier days, pre-1976, but did have some stellar moments despite their personal issues because of their talent.
I feel that they will be remembered as selling more records than most of their contemporaries proving a softer sound that was crafted with unbelievable talent and precision, not necessarily catagorizable, but definitely contagious providing a timeless backdrop to their product. The Christmas material will always stand out and is proof that if you stick to what you believe in, your talent will shine. In a time when Christmas albums were not the status quo, they excelled. In a time where rock was hard, they penetrated through, in a time when many artists fumbled, they had top representation and knew all the top key people in the business and created lifetime relationships. Life happens to people who live life, no doubt! Thank God, we can treasure their music for every season.
 

Eyewire

Well-Known Member
Whenever I read the comments for any of the YouTube videos featuring the Carpenters music, there is almost always unanimous praise for Richard's amazing arrangements and Karen's unparalleled voice. And a lot of these comments are from young people, kids who were born many, many years after Karen passed away. Many of them lament about how today's music is so lame compared to the music of the '70s and '80s.

So I don't think we should worry about the legacy the Carpenters have left us. Great music is great music. It transcends generations. Great music will always be discovered, whether it be through digital downloads, streaming services, and whatever else technology brings us in the future. The music of the Carpenters will continue to live on because it's great.

I'm thankful for all the music the Carpenters produced, and I'm just grateful that I live in this day and age of technology where it's very easy to obtain and listen to their music. And I believe that this will still be the case many, many decades from now. Karen's voice was one in a trillion. A voice like that can't and won't be snuffed out of history anytime soon. At least I hope so.
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
consider the music industry in recent years... with it's sharp/clear digitalized sound and a lot of pop stars belting their way to the top of the charts... and I wonder where my dearest most favourite and treasured artists fit in.
Karen is a legend in the business -and her voice is held in very high regard among the music industry and the record buying public. She's still a major reference point among many vocalists today.
 
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