Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Sad Anniversary

Today is the 23rd anniversay of the needless death of the greatest female vocalist (IMHO) of the 20th Century.

Could you imagine one of today's singers walking on a stage wearing a dress that completely hid her figure and showing only her hands and face. She would pick up a microphone and simply sing, pouring every bit of herself into every note and word. She didn't do anything sexy or seductive (though her voice could be very seductive); she didn't have to wiggle her bottom at the camera because her voice alone would do the work.

There will never be another Karen Carpenter. She was dissed by the magazines like The Rolling Stone because she was non-political and simply sang to entertain. Her songs were songs of love and friendship. She kept her life, and pain, private - she died on the very day her divorce from her husband was to be final. Some singers had a larger vocal range but none of them had her quality of voice. There are very few who can even hold a candle to her.

Fortunately her work survives and is still doing quite well considering nothing new has been recorded since 1980.

But I often wonder if MTV hasn't ruined music. It used to be that you just heard their voice and that alone would carry them and they generally concentrated on their voice. Now with music videos the girl (or guy) has to be uber-sexy, dressing and behaving in a manner that detracts from the song they are singing, especially if they concentrate more on their body than the song. Would a one-time superstar like Mama Cass even really stand a chance today? Karen Carpenter was not ugly (until anorexia ravaged her appearance) but she was no beauty queen either. Yet her voice was unequaled and carried her to astonishing heights.

I remember you Karen and will never forget you. RIP

Her brother, Richard Carpenter, has four daughters (and a son), and maybe one of them will approach their legendary aunt in talent. He is being very coy about their talent but I don't know if that's because it isn't there or if he is simply protecting his daughters from his sister's fate.

3 Comments:

Blogger NEO, SOC said...

Excellent post! You know I stopped really psying attention to most of the secular music put out in the last ten or so years because there really is no quality in them. I loved the sings before videos like you said "removed the necessity to be good". My two (2) favorite videos are: Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson and Take on Me by A-Ha. But, now booty shake and boobs is all they have. Pretty sad!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

It used to be that you just heard their voice and that alone would carry them... Now with music videos the girl (or guy) has to be uber-sexy, dressing and behaving in a manner that detracts from the song they are singing,
You're so right. That's one reason I like country. There is a lot of that in country music, but the whole point of all of it doesn't seem to be "how sexy can you be?"(Maybe Willie Nelson has something to do with that, I don't know... :D) Of course, what you mentioned is the norm all over in pop-culture, not just music.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

My parents loved the Carpenters and listened to them all the time. Every Christmas we listened to the Carpenters' Christmas album. My brother and I still listen to it at Christmas because it is part of our good Christmas memories.

I remember my mom telling me about Karen dieing from anorexia and I think that was one of the first times I learned about that awful problem. She was truly a great singer.

12:02 AM  

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