Karen Carpenter was an American singer and drummer who formed half of the famous sibling duo, The Carpenters. With her beautiful voice and charming personality, she captured the hearts of millions of fans all over the world. The Carpenters’ music was known for its soothing melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and Karen’s exceptional vocal range. S
he was also an accomplished drummer, often playing on their records and live performances. Despite her untimely death in 1983 at the age of 32, Karen Carpenter’s legacy continues to inspire generations of musicians and fans alike.
In this list, we’ll explore the 10 best Karen Carpenter songs of all time, each one showcasing her remarkable talent and the timeless quality of her music.
1. “Goodbye to Love”
“Goodbye to Love” is a soulful ballad by Karen Carpenter, released in 1972. It is known for its signature guitar solo that was performed by the legendary rock guitarist, Tony Peluso. The song’s melancholic melody complements Karen Carpenter’s beautifully emotional and expressive vocals. The lyrics talk about the pain of unrequited love and the difficulty of moving on from a relationship that has ended. The song was a huge commercial success for The Carpenters and is still considered one of their most iconic tracks.
2. “Merry Christmas Darling”
“Merry Christmas Darling” is a holiday classic that was released by Karen Carpenter in 1970. The song is a heartwarming love letter to a long-distance partner during the Christmas season, expressing the singer’s yearning to be reunited with her loved one. Karen’s soothing vocals and the lush orchestration make this song a timeless classic. The song has since become a holiday staple and is often covered by other artists.
“Superstar” is a haunting ballad recorded by Karen Carpenter for The Carpenters’ 1971 album “Carpenters.” Originally written and performed by Delaney and Bonnie in 1969, the song’s melancholic lyrics and Karen’s tender, emotional delivery have made it one of the group’s most beloved and enduring hits. The song’s delicate arrangement, featuring Karen’s signature vocals and Richard Carpenter’s skilled piano work, perfectly captures the heartache and longing expressed in the lyrics. “Superstar” has been covered by numerous artists over the years and remains a staple of soft rock and adult contemporary radio stations.
4. “Rainy Days and Mondays”
“Rainy Days and Mondays” is a melancholic yet soothing song by Karen Carpenter that expresses the feeling of sadness and loneliness on a gloomy day. It was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols and released in 1971 by The Carpenters, a brother-sister duo composed of Karen and Richard Carpenter. The song became a massive hit, reaching number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and charting in several other countries. Karen’s warm, rich, and intimate vocals blended perfectly with the lush orchestration, creating a timeless classic that has been covered by various artists over the years. The song’s lyrics speak of the struggles and challenges of everyday life, reminding listeners that we all have rainy days and difficult moments, but we can find solace in music and each other’s company.
5. “Top of the World”
“Top of the World” is a classic pop song that was a big hit for The Carpenters in 1973. Karen Carpenter’s tender, heartfelt vocals are showcased beautifully in this track. The song begins with a soft and gentle guitar intro, which builds into a joyful chorus. The lyrics, written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis, express a sense of joy and elation at being in love, and being on top of the world as a result. Karen’s voice soars on the chorus, delivering a memorable hook that will have listeners singing along. The song has become a beloved classic, and its optimistic and cheerful tone has made it a favorite for weddings and other celebrations.
6. “Hurting Each Other”
“Hurting Each Other” is a song written by Gary Geld and Peter Udell and performed by the Carpenters in 1972. The song features Karen Carpenter’s signature velvety smooth vocals complemented by her brother Richard’s soft harmonies. It’s a ballad about the struggles of two people who are trying to mend their broken relationship but keep hurting each other. The song’s melody is simple and easy to sing along to, with the gentle piano accompaniment and orchestration adding to the overall dreamy feel. The lyrics are poignant and relatable, making this song one of the most popular and enduring Carpenters hits.
7. “We’ve Only Just Begun”
“We’ve Only Just Begun” is a classic love song by the Carpenters, written by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams. The song was originally created for a television commercial for a California bank, but it was later recorded by the Carpenters and became a hit single in 1970. Karen Carpenter’s soft and soothing voice complements the romantic lyrics perfectly, making this song a popular choice for weddings and other romantic occasions. The gentle piano melody and lush orchestration add to the dreamy atmosphere of the song. Overall, “We’ve Only Just Begun” is a timeless love ballad that has stood the test of time and continues to be beloved by fans of the Carpenters.
8. “Ticket to Ride”
“Ticket to Ride” is a song originally recorded by The Beatles in 1965 and covered by Karen Carpenter in 1969. Carpenter’s version of the song has a slower tempo and features her smooth and mellow vocals backed by soft instrumentation, including a prominent bass line and gentle acoustic guitar strumming. Her rendition adds a unique twist to the original, highlighting the song’s melancholic and contemplative lyrics. Carpenter’s take on “Ticket to Ride” showcases her exceptional vocal control and ability to convey emotion through her singing.
9. “(They Long to Be) Close to You”
“(They Long to Be) Close to You” is a timeless classic that was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was popularized by Karen Carpenter and her brother Richard Carpenter. The song was released in 1970 and became one of their signature tunes. It won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus in 1971. Karen’s smooth, pure voice takes center stage on this song, delivering the heartfelt lyrics with sincerity and emotion. The lush arrangement, featuring strings and a gentle piano melody, perfectly complements Karen’s vocals. The song is a love ballad that tells the story of two people who are meant to be together, but haven’t yet realized it. It’s a song that resonates with listeners of all ages and has remained a beloved classic for decades.
10. “Yesterday Once More”
“Yesterday Once More” is a classic hit by The Carpenters, featuring Karen Carpenter’s signature smooth and soothing vocals. The song was written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis, and was released in 1973. The nostalgic lyrics and melody, along with the use of a medley of oldies tunes, make this song an enduring favorite. Karen’s delivery of the song’s opening lines, “When I was young I’d listen to the radio, waiting for my favorite songs,” immediately draws the listener in and sets the tone for a trip down memory lane. The lush harmonies and instrumentation, with prominent use of strings and a full choir, add to the song’s emotional impact. “Yesterday Once More” remains a beloved classic, and a testament to Karen Carpenter’s talent as a vocalist.