Monday, July 27, 2020

The Carpenters “Top of the World”

Put on a good set of headphones, turn it up a bit, and take a good listen to the magic that is Karen Carpenter’s voice. 

Pop music as a style of music has always seen a lot of pretty average singers elevated by quality of material or top notch production or crack studio musicians. Much of it is pleasant but — especially for older material — only memorable because it is nostalgic to you as a reminder of a time and place from your past.

This is not that. This is one amazing singer backed by quality of material and top notch production and crack studio musicians. This is the pinnacle of what pop music is capable of. This is amazing stuff. 

Like so many who came of age musically during the late 60s and 70s, I heard their first few songs and liked them and recognized how unique they were, but I was only 11-12 years old and so my discernment capabilities were under-developed. Just another bunch of Top 40 songs on WLS or WCFL in Chicago, to my ears. 

Over the years as I stretched my likes to include a wider variety of music, most of it much more muscular — think Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent, etc. — pushing The Carpenters to the back of my mind, as they were granted no credibility by the critics and other snobs who deem as useless garbage anything with impeccable production values, a tune and a pretty voice. I was one of those snobs. I was too cool to like The Carpenters. 

Some time later I realized that was a stupid attitude, and if you just open your ears and hear, how simply beautiful her singing is, like a sip of cool water when you’re thirsty. This song is one of the main ways I rediscovered.the beauty and simple power of well-conceived and well-executed pop music.