Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Beatles No Longer Matter

Alright, it's time we were all honest with each other. The Beatles are no longer relevant. Oh wait, for those readers under 50 let me clarify, I'm talking about the musicial Beatles (Paul, Jimmy, Ringo, & Dave. Or whatever the 4th guys name is!) and not the Volkswagon Beetle.

Seriously, I know there are lots of Beatle lovers out there but you're all old and forgetful. Most likely, you're all crotchety old farts too but there are several very good reasons the Beatles no longer matter.

The first reason the Beatles are no longer relevant is because you never hear them anymore. And, whether you agree with me or not, the truth is the Beatles just don't get any radio airtime

Seriously, I've heard more Whitney Houston ("How will I know?" five times) in the past month than I have Beatles (once). And, here's where I get to sound old, kids today don't know who the Beatles are. Every time I turn on the radio it's "Saves the Day", "Good Charlotte", "My Chemical Romance" or some other emo band that has more roots in the Clash and Ramones than the Beatles.

Which leads to the second reason the Beatles are no longer relevant is because teenagers don't care about them. I bet if I took a random sampling of teenagers and asked them to name two members of the Beatles or the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails, they would get NiN long before they got any Beatles. (Ans: Trent Reznor. Great in concert too!!!)

The third reason the Beatles are no longer relevant is because when I saw an ad for the Beatles movie "Help!" on blu-ray DVD… I DIDN'T CARE. And I don't think I was alone. In fact, the only place I saw the ad was in the back of the latest issue of AARP that I saw at my parents house. Actually, it was located right next to the toilet as handy dandy reading material!

The final straw for me was last Saturday Morning when I saw the latest incarnation of the Scooby Doo show. The original theme song, which everyone can sing, had been replaced with something new. It was the same lyrics but instead of the easy single along version the tune was pure pop-punk Green Day-esque. Needless to say, it was awful.

Whether you like the Beatles or not, it is obvious the melodies and harmonies they once created are long gone.


  1. I'm not old and I love the Beatles. I have several CDs by them, a few t-shirts and I'm not alone. I work at Spencers and people still ask for and purchase Beatles stuff... people in my age group too. There's one girl who comes in on a fairly regular basis and always asks if we've gotten new Beatles shirts. She's 22. My younger sister also enjoys the Beatles.

    Quite a few people I hang out with own The Yellow Submarine. The Beatles are still a recognized name and there music is still fairly widely known.

  2. I am one of the old decrepit farts you talk of. And I could never stand the Beatles. I was a Stones fan. Real Rock n' Roll not that bubble gum pop stuff. So to me they were never relevant anyway. The Stones were the "bad boys" and the Beatles were the popular and easy choice to listen to.
    Now days it has become "cool" to enjoy them, but I still cringe when I hear any of their songs. But then again I can't stand about 90% of todays Pop sounds. If it isn't Rock or Punk or even the Blues it just doesn't matter. Pop is just a fad that comes and goes.
    The Beatles are best left to the elevators of the world and not on our radios!

  3. Old Fart-

    WELL SAID!!!! I couldn't agree more. Beatles are ony in collections because chicks like them. Notice what Gwen said... all girls like Beatles. It chick music.

    Real Men listen to the Stones!!!

  4. I have to disagree. The Beatles will continue to be popular and relevant simply because of the place they hold in history. Perhaps those in the US may be unable to hear them as often on the radio but we have many an oldies channel who appear to exist solely as an excuse to play the Beatles. I am certain that in the UK, the Beatles will continue to get the respect they much deserve.

    Perhaps the biggest thing inhibiting the Beatles being at the forefront of people minds at this minute is their lack of movie soundtrack airplay. If that ban were lifted and they appeared on some new block buster film I am sure they would be able to sneak back into the mindset of this new generation. Or perhaps one cover that charts well.

    At the end of the day it all depends on what you are into. Music is one of the earliest ways kids are able to express some sort of individuality. If you go the path of hip hop, then you are unlikely to track down a Beatles album. If you listen to something like Oasis you will trace their roots back to the Beatles and discover them. The fact you don't care any more is nowhere near a big enough sample to suggest there isn't a generation of kids sourcing a this bands incredible back catalogue. I am certain that whilst they no longer have the wide appeal they had at the time they were releasing music, or rereleasing music a few year ago, fans still exist amongst teenagers.

    Old Fart - "If it isn't Rock or Punk or even the Blues it just doesn't matter." Well for you the Beatles never stood a chance. Neither did any classical composer, any reggae, or anything that isn't within your narrow scope of musical taste. I too tend to narrow myself to the genres you described but that does not mean that everything else doesn't matter.

    To say they no longer matter...that just seems a little harsh.

  5. Tyrone-

    Yeah. Saying they aren't relevant is harsh. And the Beatles were a huge influence on all sorts of music. Honestly, it's surprising they aren't heard any more than they are. Occasionally they show up in a car commercial but not very often.

    But, I do think the bottom line is that, at least in America, if your parents are introducing you to them you aren't going to really know or appreciate them. That doesn't make them any less relevant, just less noticable.

  6. Well the good thing is for those that do discover them, they can enjoy a huge back catalogue of finely crafted tunes whilst maintaining a level of niche cred :)

  7. This must be one of the Imaginary Tales of this blog. I am a 29 year old male who grew up in West Baltimore City. I know Hip-Hop DJs Reggae Band members, Blues Rockers and Acoustical open mic nighters. And each and every one of them will tell you how much the Beatles still matter. I think this Wednesday you need to get a sense of taste and a clue, and loose the arrogant tone.

  8. The Beatles will matter because they were one of the first "Pop" bands. As most modern Pop will be forgotten in a few years. Tyrone it is funny you mentions Reggae and Classical in your rebuttal. As I probably have ~4000 songs of reggae and classical alone. I would even suggest that Reggae is my favorite genre. But as far as influences in music I just think the Blues and Punk were far more influential to modern music. So the Beatles are still relevant as they were one of the first just not the best in my opinion.

  9. Palaba-

    You mentioned a group of dedicated musicians. I would hope they would have some historical perspective on music or at least some knowledge of musical history. And, such knowledge would include an understanding/appreciation of the Beatles.

    All I am saying is outside of music historians and muscians the Beatles aren't nearly what they once were. Sorta like Elvis... still got a large following but not what he once was.

  10. Hey Lee.

    Many bands today are greatly influenced by the Beatles. I can't hear My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade" without hearing the Beatles influences, and given the video and their costuming, I think it's quite deliberate without being completely derivative (like Oasis is). Likewise, Green Day contributed a compelling version of Lennon's "Working Class Hero" to a recent benefit album. Do all musicians or fans revere the Beatles? Nope. But did they even in 1971? Nope.

    I think Tyrone has a good point. Back in the day, radio was primarily the way most people discovered new music. But today, music seems to come from everywhere BUT radio, which is now more dominated by talk formats. Even top 40 stations will have huge chunks like "____ & ___ in the morning" (fill in your own lame local radio hosts here). Commercials, the internet, TV & movie soundtracks -- this is where people learn of new music today (I've found many great songs solely from the Ipod commercials).

    The fact that the Beatles (or those who owned the rights to their music) kept their songs out of commercials and films for SO long -- not to mention how they were only recently available on Itunes or online -- has hindered how new generations discover their music. In fact, some musicians have learned to offer their music to commericals *specifically* so people will hear them, because radio and MTV won't play them otherwise (Sting & Moby, to name two).

    I think you underestimate the tastes of today's youth. There are many kids out there who, by either exposure from their parents or of their own accord, still are in awe of the Beatles (and much music of the past). I was playing the music version of "Catch Phrase" with a 15-year-old skatepunk over xmas, and he gave me the clue: "this band was best known for their drummer." The band? Rush. WTF does a 15 year old know about Rush? Quite a bit apparently, if he's into music. I was dumbfounded (and lost the point 'cause I more associate Rush with Geddy Lee's annoying voice... but I digress).

    In my experience, kids today are more sophisticated than we give them credit for. Of course, that's probably true of every generation.