Superstar

Album: The Carpenters (1971)
Charted: 18 2
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett wrote this song, which is about a woman who falls for a rock star, has a tryst with him, but then in a bout of delusion awaits his return, apparently falling for it when he said he loved her.

    The word "Groupie" was just entering the lexicon when Russell and Bramlett wrote this song in 1969; Rolling Stone popularized it when they titled the cover story of their February 15, 1969 issue "The Groupies and Other Girls." Groupies were often romanticized and admired for their style and fashion, but they were also at times denigrated as rock star playthings with a loose grip on reality, which is how they are portrayed in this song.
  • Delaney & Bonnie were the first to record this song, releasing it as the B-side of their 1969 single "Comin' Home." At the time, the song was called "Groupie (Superstar)." Rita Coolidge then began performing the song on Joe Cocker's 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. A young Better Midler started performing the song later in the year, and Richard Carpenter heard the song for the first time when Bette Midler performed it on The Tonight Show. Richard knew it could be a hit for the Carpenters, so he reworked the song in their style and recorded it, resulting in the most successful version. (Thanks to Dan Levitin, who got this from an interview with Richard Carpenter.)
  • A line in the second verse was considered too lyrically risqué at the time, and was changed by Richard Carpenter to better fit the duo's image. The Carpenters' version of the lyric, "And I can hardly wait to be with you again" is "And I can hardly wait to sleep with you again" in the original version.
  • Richard Carpenter received a Grammy award nomination for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for this song. It was the second of five nominations Carpenter received for his arrangements. He didn't win any, although this is an impressive accomplishment. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Timm - Anaheim, CA
  • When the Carpenters version became a hit, Bette Midler took some shots at Karen Carpenter, often mocking her wholesome image. Karen claimed the jokes didn't bother her, and after her death, Midler apologized in Redbook magazine and said she often thinks of Karen.
  • In 1987, a movie called Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story was released and shown at film festivals. The director, Todd Haynes, didn't secure the rights to the songs, and the film was pulled after Richard Carpenter filed suit.
  • The alternative rock band Sonic Youth covered this in 1994 for the Carpenters tribute album If I Were A Carpenter. Released as a single with Redd Kross' version of "Yesterday Once More" as the listed flip side, it peaked at #45 in the UK. Sonic Youth's version later featured in the 2007 movie Juno where Jason Bateman's character plays it to Juno. It is included on the film's soundtrack.
  • In the movie Tommy Boy, Chris Farley and David Spade cry their eyes out listening to this song, which plays as they are driving along. They hit a moose before the song ends. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Neil Natale - Agawam, MA
  • Luther Vandross did a medley of this song and "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" that reached #87 in 1984.
  • Ruben Studdard brought this song to a new audience when he performed it on Season 2 of American Idol. He won the competition, and "Superstar" was released as his first single along with "Flying Without Wings," which for chart purposes was designated as the A-side and reached #2 behind "This Is The Night" from Clay Aiken, who finished second to Studdard on the show.
  • "Superstar" was recorded by Karen on her first take, singing the lyrics that had been scribbled by Richard onto a napkin. It took a while for Karen to warm up to the song. "For some reason that tune didn't hit me in the beginning," she recalled in a 1981 interview. "It's the only one. Richard looked at me like I had three heads. He said: 'Are you out of your mind?' When I heard his arrangement of it I fell over, and now it's one of my favorites too."
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Comments: 26

  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music lovers,

    I know that you guys love this song and I like the song, too. This song was written about a relationship between a guitarist and his groupie.
    By the way, did you notice that Who it was guitarist on this song ? I think it was Eric Clapton, a great guitarist in the world.
    Because this song was written by Leon Rusell and Bonnie Bramlett in 1969. In those days, they were stick around with Eric after breaking up the
    rock band called 'Blind Faith'. They played and recorded together. So that fact led me to the conclusion that the guitarist was Eric Clapton.
  • Steve from Ottawa, CanadaWhen she sings, "baby baby baby baby oh baby" is she mocking what the guitarist said to her?
  • Sandy from FlI prefer Luther's soulful and less sanitized version.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 29th 1971, "Superstar" by the Carpenters entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #49; and on October 10th, 1971 it peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 {and for 8 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10}...
    It reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart {they had other two records peak at #1 on the 'Adult' chart during 1971; "For All We Know" for 3 weeks and "Rainy Days and Mondays" for 4 weeks}...
    The two weeks it was at #2 on the Top 100, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart...
    Between 1970 and 1982 the duo had twenty-eight Top 100 records, twelve made the Top 10 with three reaching #1, "Close to You" for 4 weeks in 1970, "Top of the World" for 2 weeks in 1973, "Please Mr. Postman" for 1 weeks in 1975...
    They just missed having eight #1s when five records peaked at #2; "We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Day and Mondays", this one, "Hurting Each Other", and "Yesterday Once More"...
    R.I.P. Karen {1950 - 1983} and Richard will celebrate his 68th birthday in two months on October 15th {2014}.
  • Steve from Spokane, WaKaren was a treasure. She was friends with my Grandmother's next door neighbors daughter in Bellflower, CA. I just listened to the Mad Dogs and Englishmen version. Listen to it, Rita Coolidge is flat on like every other note!
  • Daniel from Los Angeles, CaKaren has such a beautiful voice. I love this song and they way she sings it. God Bless you Karen.
  • David from Birmingham, AlOriginally titled "Groupie" it was written by Leon Russell, inspired by Rita Coolidge.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe flip side of this record was "Bless the Beasts and the Children"; and it was nominated for Best Song at the 1971 Academy Awards {Lost to "The Theme from Shaft"}!!!
  • Rick from Belfast, MeSimply a "fantastic" piece of music....listen to it lying between two speakers!!!
  • Lisa from Milwaukee, Wi, WiRacine is right. This is probably the funniest scene in the movie. The boys are singing along, crying, and the hood flies up, blocking their view. The deer is hit at a different part of the movie.
  • Ed from Lebanon, Nh One of the rare hit songs that does not mention the title anywhere in the lyrics. I'm still partial to Rita Coolidge's original version on "MD&E".
  • Siansonea from Denver, CoI'm surprised that no one has mentioned this song's use in the movie "Ghost Rider". The Nicholas Cage character is apparently a huge Carpenters fan, but the only song he is ever shown listening to is 'Superstar'. I guess 'Top of the World' didn't fit the tone of the movie.
  • Jack from Colchester, United KingdomProbably the only song in the world with the word 'baby' repeated five times, one after another ;)
    ("Baby baby baby baby ooh baby... I love you, I really do!")
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoThe protagonist comes across as rather pathetic, though I don't think it's performed as such. I wonder what Russell's original take on it was?
  • Walter from Antwerp, BelgiumWritten by Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett, this song was originally recorded and released in late 1969 by "Delaney & Bonnie & Friends featuring Eric Clapton" as 'Groupie (Superstar)' on the Atco label.
  • Joe from Ortley Beach , NjI just love this song.
  • David from Youngstown, OhBonnie Bramlett gets a writing credit on this song. I believe she did the music for Leon's lyrics. Karen had an amazingly beautiful voice, and Richard is a strong music arranger. The Carpenters get goofed on quite a bit then and now, but they were one of the greatest pop bands of all time.
  • Shirl from Bay Area, CaLuther Vandross had a huge hit with a remake of this song. His version is very slow and melodic. Usher redid the song on a Tribute of Luther Vandross album and received a Grammy nomination for his version.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoWhat a beautifull voice. They weren't very respected because they were so mainstream pop, but what an incredible voice she had. It's such a shame she died so early in life.
  • Racine from Truro, MaIn "Tommy Boy," they don't even hit the DEER while listening to this - the hood of the car opens and blocks their view.
  • Paula from Ottawa, CanadaI believe that Clay Aiken of Season 2 American Idol sang this song in his first audition! Ambitious!
  • Savannah from Salem, InIn "Tommy Boy", Chris Farley and David Spade hit a DEER, not a moose.
  • Sheldon from Surrey, ArI find the Version by Sonic Youth, ten times better, and great to listen to when your stoned
  • Shirley from Poole, Dorset, EnglandElkie Brookes also did a version of this song - and although she has a good voice, Karen's voice glides through that tune and makes you believe in the lyrics - never to be beaten - pure velvet.
  • Timmt from Orange, CaKaren read the lyrics from a napkin on that first take. She did an amazing job with the song.
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcKaren did the vocal in one take as she read it for the first time.
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