A reader writes:
You really should check out the album that the Shonen Knife track comes from: If I Were a Carpenter, a pretty successful revisionist tribute that helped take the guilty out of the pleasure for me. These alt versions help reveal that while Richard's production is soft and very much of its time (though excellent for what it was), no one can really match Karen's amazing voice. Two of my faves from the album are Grant Lee Buffalo's "We've Only Just Begun" and Sonic Youth's incredible version of "Superstar" (above).
I am enjoying your posts on alternate takes on songs by the Carpenters. The indie gay romantic comedy, “The Broken Hearts Club” (2000) features a soundtrack filled with the Carpenters songs performed by a variety of artists. It’s very entertaining. While the idea of soundtracks composed of the work of one pop group has become a cliché in “gay” movies (see “I Think I Do” 1997 with its full complement of soundtrack songs by the Partridge Family) the use of Carpenters music in “Broken Hearts Club” really complements the film’s mood. On the commentary track of the DVD, the director (Greg Berlanti) mentions that the one song they had the hardest time getting the rights to use was, oddly, “Sing A Song”. They had to go to Richard Carpenter himself for that one.
While on the subject of the Carpenters, please don't miss Superstar, Todd Haynes' beautiful experimental film using Barbie dolls to tell the story of Karen Carpenter's anorexic dissent. The film was banned from public viewing over licensing issues, but resourceful people might find it on Google. Watching it gives one a new understanding of anorexia and appreciation for the beauty of Karen's voice.
Oh, I won't forget seeing that. Part one is here (and you can find the others in the YouTube sidebar).