This Carpenters Song Became a Single Because of ‘Star Wars’

The Carpenters released a lot of hit songs; however, one of their hits stood out because it took over 160 musicians to complete. Interestingly, Richard Carpenter didn’t initially want to release the song as a single. Subsequently, the success of Star Wars helped him change his mind.

The Carpenters' Richard Carpenter and Karen Carpenter smiling
The Carpenters’ Richard Carpenter and Karen Carpenter | GAB Archive/Redferns

How ‘Star Wars’ convinced Richard Carpenter to release 1 of his band’s songs as a single

On his website, Richard Carpenter discusses the origin of the Carpenters’ album Passage. He said the band’s albums Horizon and A Kind of Hush did not perform as well as their record label hoped. Carpenter decided their next album, Passage, would be radically different from their previous albums.

Carpenter was proud of the whole album. Elsewhere on his website, he discussed the origin of one of the hits from the album: “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.” “I heard this song on the debut album of Klaatu, a talented group of Canadian studio musicians who were heavily inspired by The Beatles, and named after the purposeful alien in the sci-fi thriller, The Day the Earth Stood Still,” he recalled. “Always looking for something novel, we decided on it for Passage and ended up immersing ourselves — and 160 musicians and singers — in the biggest ‘single’ recording we ever attempted.”

How the song impacted the Carpenters

The Carpenters’ version of the song is called “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day).” World Contact Day is an unofficial observance where people try to contact UFOs. On his website, Carpenter said he and Karen Carpenter received many inquiries about World Contact Day because of the song.

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The way the world reacted to the Carpenters’ ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)’

“Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)” became a bigger hit than Carpenter anticipated. “Initially I did not think of this track as a single, but coincidentally, Star Wars had been released, and was all the rage, not long after we recorded ‘Occupants,'” he wrote. “As a result, I allowed myself to be persuaded into releasing an edited version as a single. It did moderately well in the U.S., but, to our pleasant surprise, went top 10 in the U.K., and stayed there for two months.”

The Carpenters’ cover of “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)” became a minor hit in the United States. It peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 14 weeks. The song’s parent album, Passage, didn’t chart as highly. It reached No. 49 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 18 weeks.

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The Carpenters’ “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)” was considerably more popular in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song reached No. 9 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for nine weeks. Meanwhile, Passage reached No. 12 on the chart and remained on the chart for 12 weeks. It took a lot for the Carpenters to create “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)” — and the song seemed to resonate with fans.