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The Crack Magazine


Special K

Is Karen Carpenter the best pop singer of all time. Discuss. (Or read ‘Why Karen Carpenter Matters’, a new analysis of her work, which is being published by Faber & Faber this November.)

I’m going to say it: Karen Carpenter IS (or WAS) the best pop singer of all time. Her vocals were as clear as a mountain stream, and she never had to resort to the showy, tonsil-battering gymnastics that powered the likes of Whitney or Maria. In ‘Why Karen Carpenter Matters, Karen Tongson interweaves the story of the singer’s rise to fame in the 1960s and 70s with her own trans-Pacific journey between the Philippines and Karen Carpenter’s home ground of Southern California. Tongson reveals why the Carpenters’ chart-topping, seemingly white-washed musical fantasies of ‘normal love’ have profound significance for her – as well as for other people of colour, LGBT+ communities, and anyone outside the mainstream culture. The book is the third in a new series from Faber & Faber, which also includes: ‘Why Marianne Faithful Matters’ and ‘Why Solange Matters’. RM

Why Karen Carpenter Matters by Karen Tongson is published by Faber & Faber on 4 November.