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Why wasn't 'Voice Of The Heart' a Bigger Success?

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amit1234

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Why wasn't 'Voice Of The Heart' a Bigger Success?

I know this question probably doesn't matter in the greater scheme of things, however, I was just wondering if anyone here has any theories/explanations as to why 'Voice Of The Heart' wasn't a bigger success (mind you, the album did eventually get certified GOLD by the RIAA in the late 90's).

Maybe this is just a new phenomenon, but recent history has shown that acts which pass away prematurely enjoy an immediate resurgence (Aaliyah, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, and Selena all scored #1 albums after their unfortunate deaths and more recently, Luther Vandross scored his first #1 album after suffering a very serious stroke which he has thankfully recovered from.)

From what I recall, 'Voice Of The Heart' performed similarily to 'Made In America' - it was a Top 50 album yet it didn't receive the widespread success of their earlier work. One would think that the world would have stood up and taken notice that one of the greatest female singer's of all time was gone and shown their sorrow/appreciation by purchasing what remaining material there was. It just boggles my mind that 'Voice Of The Heart' didn't receive the recognition it deserved - it certainly featured many great Carpenters tunes ("Make Believe It's Your First Time", "Now", "Look To Your Dreams", "Ordinary Fool", and "At The End Of A Song") and was a solid effort which Richard devoted much of energy towards after Karen's passing..

Was radio and the public's taste that much out of sync with the Carpenters' easy listening sound at the time?

I guess the commercial success of 1985's 'Yesterday Once More' (and all the other eventual compilations) truly represents the indelible impact that Carpenters made during their tenure, however, it still miffs me a little that even after Karen passed on, the general public still didn't welcome the Carpenters back with open arms.

Am I just overly analyzing/speculating or does anyone else feel the same way?
 
amit1234 said:
Why wasn't 'Voice Of The Heart' a Bigger Success?


Was radio and the public's taste that much out of sync with the Carpenters' easy listening sound at the time?

Short answer: yes. The Carpenters magic had so faded by the time Karen passed away that it seemed as if no-one took notice or cared.

I recall the radio station that I worked for, at the time and Adult Contemporary station that played a couple of Carpenters tunes in rotation. I went back to the studio as the on-air personality played two Carpenters tunes in a row. I looked at him, and he looked at me and said something like, "Geez, you'd think that the only station in town that plays Carpenters music would do a little more at the announcement of this tragic death." After that - very little.

Months later, when "Make Believe It's Your First Time" was released as a single, our station played it. Upon hearing it, some folks just casually commented, "Isn't she dead?" God, how that grated on me!

Whenever people took a look at the station as to why we weren't doing better, or why the ratings were down, invariably some wise-a$$ would pipe up with, "Well if we weren't playing so much of that Carpenters crap, we might do better." So negative was Carpenters image at that point that the only course of action was indeed to eliminate them from general rotation.

I sense that it was that way pretty much all across the country as America thought itself to be too hip for Carpenters.

As you said though, once a new top-notch compilation came along like
Yesterday Once More, suddenly people were willing to spend some money on Carpenters product.

Harry
...remembering the 80s, online...
 
Hi Harry - Thanks for sharing your insight into the matter. Since I was only six years old when Karen passed, I didn't hear anything about Karen's passing it nor would I have taken notice since I was only just being introduced to music in 1983 through Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and the Eurythmics. It's very unfortunate that "no one took notice or cared" as you put it - after all, this was the biggest selling American born act of the 1970's. It's pretty unbelievable how fickle the taste of the American public is when it comes it music. One minute you're the hottest thing since sliced bread (eg. Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Martin, Ace Of Base, Hootie And The Blowfish) and the next minute you're not even worthy of being yesterday's news. It's a very tough business to survive in and the fact that the Carpenters' scored a Top 20 single ("Touch Me When We're Dancing) eleven years into their career is proof that their music was just too good to ignore. Make no mistake, had Karen lived, the duo would have made a graceful return to the charts in some form - if not on the pop charts, then definitely on the AC charts. Heck, if Dionne Warwick was able to do it, you just know the Carpenters would have as well.

Your experience working at that AC station in 1983 was a very interesting read. Don't the Carpenters hold the record second to Elton John for having the highest amount of #1 hits on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts? I find it *very* surprising and sad that your station didn't do more to pay tribute. And yes, that remark you received "Isn't she..." would have also gotten on my last nerve.

From what I gather, there have been three instances of a Carpenters revival/appreciation in the general public since Karen's passing:

1) Yesterday Once More (1985)
2) The Karen Carpenter Story/Lovelines (1989)
3) If I Were A Carpenter (1994)

I guess that's better than nothing.
 
This is a interesting topic. I can understand why radio wouldn't play the album at the time. Although where I live they did play Make Believe alot right around the time Karen passed away. But I have never heard the radio play any other tracks from that album.

This album is probably the most special album for me personally. For some strange reason, When I play it, I always seem to draw a closer tie to Karen vocally. I use to think that it was because of just the memory of getting the album after Karen had passed away & thinking wow this was the last album she made.

However now I realize that this was not really the last album they made together, right? Weren't alot of the tracks left over tracks that were actually recorded before Made in America? The song "Now" was one of the last songs she recorded but I don't think the rest of the songs from this album were done the same time "Now" was. Correct me if I'm wrong.

But for me, this album gets pulled from my shelf the most when I play my vinyl records. I also have the Japan Mini CD LP Style which is really cool, the cd is amazing too.

...who thinks his Voice of the Heart Album Cover Poster 24 X 24 is one of the hottest photos of Karen, online....
 
I think the album wasnt a biogger hit because of two factors:
1- the selection of MBIYFT as a single and
2- the tracks on the album itself.
The background vocals were too middle of the road, which doomed the single. "Your Baby" would have been a better first single.
As far as the album selections, some are excellent (Now, Ordinary Fool), and alot are mediocre. I think much better material overall was on Lovelines.
"Where Do I Go From Here?" should have been on the album and even the lead single. Think of the lyrics.
Just this man's opinion.
Mark
 
I remember this period very well. I was working in a record store when "voice Of The Heart" was released. We had the album featured in the front row right when you walked in the store. I remember someone commenting that they did not like the cover photo. The album sold moderately, but nothing compared to the X album or the AC/DC album that was out at that same time.
 
I think, as others have said, there are a multitude of reasons why VOICE OF THE HEART didn't fare well on the charts in 1983.

Part of it was the complete lack of a "hit" single among the bunch of songs -- while they're all terrific songs, they are NOT at all what was getting radio play in 1983. I agree with whoever said that "Where Do I Go from Here" would have been a far better choice for the album and lead single.

Second, quite a bit of time had passed since Karen's death. It wasn't like the album came out soon after her passing; it was more than nine months later (if I'm remembering correctly, the album came out in November of 1983). Had Karen and Richard had a nearly-completed album at the time of her death, and Richard had gotten it into stores within two or three months, I think it could have sold more on the "emotional factor." But in the minds of the average listening public, nine months is a lifetime.

Third, I don't think A&M put a whole lot into promoting the album. That could have been for a number of reasons, including their desire not to seem like they were exploiting Karen's death, or Richard's need to stay out of the public eye. Or maybe they didn't see much potential for the album and so they just released it and let it do whatever it was going to do on its own. A music video -- even just old footage of Karen and Richard -- could have done wonders to promote one of the singles.

What actually interests me more than the sales of VOICE OF THE HEART is how the sales of THE SINGLES: 1969-1973 did during 1983. Was there an increase in sales during the months following her death, or is that a phenomenon that we have arrived at (culturally speaking) more recently? If Richard had gotten YESTERDAY ONCE MORE into stores in March of 1983, would it have sold millions of copies?

Always more questions to ponder...

David
 
Chris-An Ordinary Fool said:
However now I realize that this was not really the last album they made together, right? Weren't a lot of the tracks left over tracks that were actually recorded before Made in America? The song "Now" was one of the last songs she recorded but I don't think the rest of the songs from this album were done the same time "Now" was. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Hi Chris - You're very right. 'Voice Of The Heart' was not the last album the Carpenters recorded together but instead was a collection of studio outtakes the C's recorded over the years. "Make Believe It's Your First Time" was obviously re-recorded/arranged during the 'Made In America' sessions once it was decided Karen's solo album would be shelved, "Ordinary Fool" was recorded during the 'Horizon' sessions, and I believe "Look To Your Dreams" was recorded during the 'Christmas Portrait' sessions. As you mentioned, "Now" remains the only track specifically recorded for what was to become their final full length.

Although I haven't really given 'Voice Of The Heart' enough play as I should have (probably owing to the fact that I just got it on vinyl a few months ago along with their other albums) I do recognize it as a lovely collection of songs that run through a gammet of emotions (Hope: "Now", Introspection: "Ordinary Fool", Trust: "Make Believe It's Your First Time", Encouragement: "Look To Your Dreams"). More importantly, it served as a fitting tribute to Karen's legacy while also providing a temporary bandage to her devoted legion.
 
mstaft said:
"Where Do I Go From Here?" should have been on the album and even the lead single. Think of the lyrics.
Just this man's opinion.
Mark

Mark - I think "Where Do I Go From Here" would have been a very poignant choice for 'Voice Of The Heart'. However, my guess is that Richard was saving that one for us - and rightfully so. Thankfully, it provided 1989's 'Lovelines' with that much needed power ballad. Since the song opens up the fourth disc of 'The Essential Collection', I think Richard also sees the song as an expression of his/our feelings.
 
Voice of the Heart did not chart better for one reason. The easy listening chorus on everything. It made it almost impossible for airplay by more stations and repeat play by those who played it. Make Believe It's Your First Time was beautiful and admired by many who liked good voices, but when faced with buying choices the chorus would have put it on the un-cool list. Kinda sad that the messenger killed his own song with un-needed fluff.
 
davidgra said:
What actually interests me more than the sales of VOICE OF THE HEART is how the sales of THE SINGLES: 1969-1973 did during 1983. Was there an increase in sales during the months following her death, or is that a phenomenon that we have arrived at (culturally speaking) more recently? If Richard had gotten YESTERDAY ONCE MORE into stores in March of 1983, would it have sold millions of copies?

David

Hi David - Since Soundscan wasn't available back in 1983, I don't think there's anyway for us to find out if 'The Singles 1969-1973' made any gains on the Billboard 200. Maybe if someone has access to old issues of Billboard, they could do a little digging? However, I think that's just wishful thinking on my part.

I think the phenomenon of increased sales following an artist's passing has been easier to judge ever since Soundscan was introduced in 1990. Before that, retailers would guesstimate exactly how much they sold each week and report back to Billboard - not a very reliable gauge of sales activity.

BTW, not all artist's who have passed at a young age have experienced a resurgence on the charts (eg. TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' unfortunate passing did not boost interest in their lastest LP '3D'. In fact, it's the group's lowest selling album to date.)
 
VOICE OF THE HEART is a lovely album and remains one of my all-time favorites, along with A SONG FOR YOU and CARPENTERS. Although their popularity dwindled in the late 70's and early 80's, time has an interesting way of bringing us back to where we started from. ABBA's popularity faded in the 80's, but all it took was a few movies to bring them back onto the charts. When Gloria Estefan started hitting it big in the mid-80's, she was sometimes compared to Karen (why I have absolutely NO IDEA since their voices are totally different--and I like Gloria, too, but she's ain't no Karen!).

I recall that around the time that LOVELINES was released, a Carpenters collection was at the top of the UK chart. (I don't recall the name of the collection off the top of my head, but I have it at home. I do remember that it has a lot of remixes on it.) At any rate, it's obvious that although much of America had forgotten about the Carpenters, Europe was a different story.

Blessings,
Mickey
 
amit1234 said:
BTW, not all artist's who have passed at a young age have experienced a resurgence on the charts (eg. TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' unfortunate passing did not boost interest in their lastest LP '3D'. In fact, it's the group's lowest selling album to date.)

This is true. When Laura Nyro died, most people just said, "Who's Laura Nyro?" Although a few of her albums were remastered and reissued just a short while back, much of her catalog remains neglected. I'm still waiting for my personal favorite, NESTED, to be reissued on CD!

Continued blessings,
Mickey
 
I recall that around the time that LOVELINES was released, a Carpenters collection was at the top of the UK chart. (I don't recall the name of the collection off the top of my head, but I have it at home. I do remember that it has a lot of remixes on it.) At any rate, it's obvious that although much of America had forgotten about the Carpenters, Europe was a different story.

Mickey, that album must be Only Yesterday or later reissued as Their Greatest Hits.
That album recorded a huge sales and kept #1 positon at UK charts for a number of weeks.
which was stunning to me! :shock:
The Karen Carpenter Story seems to have given a boost to the sales.
 
Yes, that's the collection I was thinking about. I picked it up in the UK in 1991. I had almost forgotten about The Karen Carpenter Story and how it must have boosted sales.

Blessings,
Mickey
 
chpoof wrote:

>When Laura Nyro died, most people just said, "Who's Laura Nyro?"
>Although a few of her albums were remastered and reissued just a
>short while back, much of her catalog remains neglected. I'm still
>waiting for my personal favorite, NESTED, to be reissued on CD!
Yeah, Laura Nyro is an interesting case, as is John Denver, for that matter.

When they both died, there had very recently been releases of "best-of" type collections (Laura Nyro's 2-disc STONED SOUL PICNIC: THE BEST OF LAURA NYRO, and John Denver's 4-disc ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLECTION). Note that both these collections were in stores BEFORE they passed away. I think their deaths probably caused a bried surge in sales of both those albums, I don't think there was a juge overall increase in interest in either of them.

Interestingly, both Laura Nyro and John Denver had a number of albums in print on CD only in Japan at the time of their deaths, and many of those CDs have gone out-of-print in the years that followed

On the other hand, look at Dusty Springfield. Much of her catalog had been ignored on CD (especially in the United States), and yet after her death there was a large increase in the number of albums being released on CD.

It is sad that sometimes it takes the death of an artist to get the record companies interested enough to release either out-of-print material or unreleased material on CD... But here's something to ponder: Do you think we would have ever heard songs like "Where Do I Go from Here," "You're the One," "Rainbow Connection," "If I Had You," "Ordinary Fool," "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again," etc., had Karen lived?
David
 
davidgra said:
When they both died, there had very recently been releases of "best-of" type collections (Laura Nyro's 2-disc STONED SOUL PICNIC: THE BEST OF LAURA NYRO, and John Denver's 4-disc ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLECTION). Note that both these collections were in stores BEFORE they passed away. I think their deaths probably caused a bried surge in sales of both those albums, I don't think there was a juge overall increase in interest in either of them.

Actually, a good number of John Denver's albums entered the charts within weeks after his death, including the box set. Although it was rather short lived, a lot of people realized that they had lost someone very special. For a while you couldn't find a John Denver CD in any store here in Nashville. As for Laura, her death didn't really get that much coverage, plus she never actually made it as a singer, more as a respected songwriter.

davidgra said:
Interestingly, both Laura Nyro and John Denver had a number of albums in print on CD only in Japan at the time of their deaths, and many of those CDs have gone out-of-print in the years that followed.

About a year or so after John Denver's death, several of his missing albums were reissued on CD briefly in Japan: Rhymes & Reasons, Take Me To Tomorrow, Whose Garden Was This?, and Aerie. Windsong was reissued rather shoddily here in the U.S., but the Japanese import is outstanding (as most Japanese reissues are). In the U.S., the other remaining albums in his catalog that had never been on CD finally were reissued.

Three of Laura's albums have been remastered and reissued with bonus tracks: Eli & the Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry, and Gonna Take a Miracle. I'm hopeful they will continue into her catalog, although I suspect they will remaster her prime catalog from the early 70's prior to touching my favorite period in her recordings (from Smile onward, when she went in a more Mother Earth/feminist direction).

davidgra said:
On the other hand, look at Dusty Springfield. Much of her catalog had been ignored on CD (especially in the United States), and yet after her death there was a large increase in the number of albums being released on CD.

Exactly! I guess Dusty has more of an audience for some reason. I love all three of them, to be honest. :)

davidgra said:
It is sad that sometimes it takes the death of an artist to get the record companies interested enough to release either out-of-print material or unreleased material on CD... But here's something to ponder: Do you think we would have ever heard songs like "Where Do I Go from Here," "You're the One," "Rainbow Connection," "If I Had You," "Ordinary Fool," "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again," etc., had Karen lived?

Good question. I imagine not since she would have continued recording and (hopefully) achieved a comeback on down the road. I always wondered what direction Richard and Karen would have gone in had she lived. I've pictured Karen perhaps going in a Linda Ronstadt-type direction from the 80's, singing standards (like "Little Girl Blue"). It's a shame we'll never know. :sad:

Blessings,
Mickey
 
I think VOTH has a more adult apeal than their earlier records. When I got C's, I basically got them all at once ( since it would be cheapier). And I remember that at the first hearing, I wasn't too much excited about that one. I liked some songs, but I thought it had a different sound, which lacked of youth appeal.

Nowadays I really like VOTH, but It's easy to see that Lovelines got much more appeal, not only for the youngest listeners but also in a comercial way.

For the albums singles, I would choose: Now and Two Lives ( what a song, I love this one)!!! :D
 
VOICE OF THE HEART is a great album,but it's definitely not a commercial album.I remember listening to VOTH in 1983 when I was first introduced to karen's albums(I was 13),and was thinking,"Now,this Lady sounds like a jazz singer!" I was used to listening to all the stuff on the pop charts,like Pat Benatar,Laura Branigan,Kim Carnes,etc,and,after hearing VOICE OF THE HEART,I knew Karen Carpenter was a different type of singer-not a regular pop singer.I also knew I wouldn't be hearing any of those VOTH tracks on the Top-40 stations.The fact is ,most people that like Top-40 music aren't going to be interested in an album like VOTH.VOTH is an album that Frank Sinatra fans would be more interested in.As far as sales go,VOTH was a success,selling almost a million copies.It's also been in print for 20 years,and that's something you can't say for most albums that were put out in 1983.
 
Mr J says,

It's also been in print for 20 years,and that's something you can't say for most albums that were put out in 1983.


I never thought of it that way. Good point.
 
amit1234 said:
From what I gather, there have been three instances of a Carpenters revival/appreciation in the general public since Karen's passing:

1) Yesterday Once More (1985)
2) The Karen Carpenter Story/Lovelines (1989)
3) If I Were A Carpenter (1994)

I guess that's better than nothing.


The Carpenters had a pretty big and lasting revival in 1998 with "Love Songs" which was on the U.S. Billboard top 200 for 25 weeks, it's also been certified Gold. Around that same time several television documentaries were made on the Carpenters. 1998 was also the same year that many of their albums were finally certified platinum and multiplatinum.
 
davidgra said:
What actually interests me more than the sales of VOICE OF THE HEART is how the sales of THE SINGLES: 1969-1973 did during 1983. Was there an increase in sales during the months following her death, or is that a phenomenon that we have arrived at (culturally speaking) more recently? If Richard had gotten YESTERDAY ONCE MORE into stores in March of 1983, would it have sold millions of copies?

Always more questions to ponder...

David

The only album on the charts in 1983 after Karen passing was "Voice Of The Heart", It was the same for both the U.S. and UK.

I thought for sure Carpenters albums would experience a slight upsurge - but no such thing happened. At the record store I worked in we ordered only two copies of all their albums, with the exception of "Singles 69 - 73" we ordered 5 copies of that. It took us an entire month to sell all five copies of "Singles".
I think interest in the Carpenters didn't happen again until 1989 and finally hit full bloom in 1998.

chpoof said:
Good question. I imagine not since she would have continued recording and (hopefully) achieved a comeback on down the road. I always wondered what direction Richard and Karen would have gone in had she lived. I've pictured Karen perhaps going in a Linda Ronstadt-type direction from the 80's, singing standards (like "Little Girl Blue"). It's a shame we'll never know.

Blessings,
Mickey

I've pictured Karen being more adventurous. By the late 70's I think she really wanted to break out of the mold of being known as an easy listening singer, look at her solo album. Also listening to Richard's "Time" album. The Carpenters probably would have been recording songs like "Say Yeah".
 
I've always felt, however incorrect my perceptions might be, that "Now" should have been release as a single from VOTH. That song remains one of my favorites, and quite a tribute to the maturity of Karen's voice and style.
 
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