Court of the Ginger King: The Carpenters, Guilty of Greatness

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from the ol’ Ginger King, but hey, it’s all in good timing. Besides, you don’t ever hear anyone complaining when bears hibernate for months on end. Some people might even revel in the thought (we’re looking at you Stephen Colbert). So, why now? What’s so damn important, Mr. Michniak? Well, we never really know. He kind of just comes and goes, and in a manner similar to that faded photo of Bigfoot from years ago. That being said, we’ve gotta savor the times he does emerge, and now is one of those times. So, without blabbering anymore, we’ll let some other guy do it for us. Flame on, folks.

-Michael Roffman, President/Editor-in-Chief.

If you can’t appreciate the Carpenters, you might need to take the stick out of your ass.

The Carpenters are the best selling American musical act of the 1970s.

The 1970s saw a break from tradition in a lot of ways throughout both art and entertainment. Movies, music, and television needed to appeal to a wider demographic, to people with more diverse interests than ever before in the States. In the midst of punk, funk, rock, prog, jazz fusion, and all the other shit flying around in that decade, the Carpenters sold such a shit load of records that everyone was familiar with them.

If you’re a hipster or hipster-after-you-leave-your-college-and-move-to-the-big-city, you’re familiar with being an idiot and not liking things just because they’re popular.

This is why people stopped caring about the Carpenters. They were killed by proto-hipsters of the ’70s and ’80s.

Anyways… this never-regular column has a concept and I am sticking to it.

Argument #1: “The Carpenters were totally gay!”

First off, you are homophobic. Secondly, no, you’re the gay one. But let’s look at the facts:

Fact 1: Karen Carpenter was one of the first stars in the spotlight to have an eating disorder.

Fact 2: Richard Carpenter had a massive Quaalude addiction.

This is how I want my rock stars to be. I want them to be totally fucked up in tragic ways. What the hell happened to Quaaludes anyway? DId they just go out of style? Maybe Richard Carpenter just took every one produced. (Badass!) If Peter Segal’s 1995 film epic Tommy Boy taught us anything, it’s that balding tightass David Spade and chicken wing fan Chris Farley could bond through The Carpenters. Sure, Richard (Spade) might have wanted something different than Tommy (Farley), but when 1971’s “Superstar” came on the radio, it was common ground.

More trivia to stomach:

  • Ever seen the films Velvet Goldmine, I’m Not There, or Far From Heaven? The director of those, Todd Haynes, made his mark with a film about Karen Carpenter.
  • Sonic Youth and Boyz II Men both will talk of their love of the Carpenters.
  • Elvis banged Karen Carpenter as he ate fried chicken drumsticks. (Not Confirmed)

Argument #2: “They were only popular, not good”

Karen Carpenter’s drumming as a kid was said to have exotic time signatures. You on the other hand get your friends to play the drums in Rock Band because you just can’t get good at it.

Their cover renditions of songs were more re-inventions than anything else and set a trend in music that is still pissing people off. And to think, your original stuff can’t get heard by more than 100 people.

This old ass clip of Karen belting out “Rainy Days and Mondays” has over 2.5 million views. The most viewed video on this guy’s YouTube is 160!

As I’m writing this, I have discovered I might not even be arguing anything. The Carpenters were the top selling act of what is generally thought of as the greatest decade for music, the 1970’s. If you don’t have at least one Carpenters song on your iPod, you aren’t really a music fan. If you haven’t heard at least one Carpenters song, you might as well throw away your iPod because you have no right to say you like any music because you have never heard the greatest female alto singer in the history of pop music. If you are a person who enjoys art and design, you have to respect their logo which people would rip-off throughout the ’70s, simply by duplicating the curvature of the script in a similar way to the Carpenters logo.

The real reason for the success of The Carpenters is that they were able to combine a ridiculous vocal range with backing music that would transition from safe (piano) to dangerous (electric guitar). This is a blueprint for perfect music, literally something for everybody.

I might be an angry asshole, but the Carpenters always will find a place in my heart to reside and play beautiful music. I also let them drop Quaaludes and fuck Elvis, and only in my liver.

But that’s a whole other argument in itself.


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