"Rainy Days and Mondays" is exactly the kind of melancholy yet catchy fare that pop fans came to expect from the Carpenters during their lengthy run of hits in the 1970s. The lyric presents the interior monologue of a depressed soul: "Hanging around, some kind of lonely clown/Rainy days and Mondays always get me down." The music lightens the pain of the lyric by tempering its downtrodden tone with a lovely melody full of complex, almost jazzy twists (especially on its serpentine chorus). The Carpenters' recording of "Rainy Days and Mondays" maintains its mournful feel with a heart-tugging combination of strings and harmonica but heightens the hook quotient of the song by adding sophisticated, smooth vocal harmonies that add extra layers to the twists and turns of the melody. The song's appeal is capped by Karen Carpenter's lead vocal, which uses her rich alto tone to sell the inner pain of the song's narrator but remains subtle enough to avoid lapsing into melodrama. The result managed to be catchy without losing sight of the song's pensive mood. As a result, "Rainy Days and Mondays" shot up the pop charts, peaking at number two on the pop charts during the spring of 1971. It also inspired cover versions by singers like Freda Payne and Sarah Vaughan, but the Carpenters' version remains the definitive take on "Rainy Days and Mondays" thanks to its mix of musical elegance and quiet heartbreak.