Today I decided to go bold, to right a wrong, to correct a horrible belief that has pervaded the hearts and minds of people for the past fifty years. The Beatles are the most overrated band in the history of music.
Yeah, I said it.
I feel it’s time I finally addressed this argument I’ve had with so many here at Goppygots so it can last forever on the Internet and my future great-grand kids can come across it and smack their foreheads. I want the record to show that the Beatles are a good band and they do have a lot of good songs. I get why people love them just like I get why I’m writing this while a live Def Leppard concert is playing on youtube in the background. Everyone has varying tastes, the ol’ different strokes for different folks expression certainty applies here. At the same time, c’mon – the best, most influential band of all time? I scoff at the notion, scoff I say. In fact I’m standing right now as I type this to fully maximize my scoffage. Let’s get to the five reasons why I feel so strongly about a band the rest of the world feels strongly about.
1) My first beef is the name. Now I know what you’re thinking, your first argument regarding the Beatles historical validity has to do with their choice of band moniker?
There are so many great band names they could have went with and they instead decided to go with shit. Not only did they go with shit, the other original names were even worse. According to that bastion of reliable information – Wikipedia, the following names predated their eventual choice as “The Beatles
1) The Blackjacks
2) The Quarrymen
3) Johnny and the Moondogs
5) The Silver Beetles
6) The Silver Beatles
7) The Beatles
You can tell a lot about a band by their name. I’m already uninspired.
2) Until 1965 they were basically a cover band that was more concerned with image than actual music. Hell, half of their songs on every album up until “Help” were covers! If I want covers I can drive to Staten Island tonight and go to a “Screaming Broccoli” show. I guarantee they’ll put on a better show too.
3) Piggybacking on #2 – because the Beatles were basically a cover band that was more concerned with image than actual music they were just the original boy band. The 1960’s version of N’Sync or New Kids On The Block. Screaming girls at their concerts? Check. Plenty of merchandise for the girls to buy? Check. Love songs up the wazoo? Cute little movies to indoctrinate everyone on how cool and fun and hip they all were? Check check and check. It’s funny, the majority of bands out there are concerned with artistic integrity, and not selling out and that’s exactly what the Beatles did – they sold out. They were a corporate band, a money making machine, designed to empty the pockets of every teenager. And they did.
4) There is a natural synergy to my list because my fourth issue has to do with their “concerts” and that is using the term extremely loosely. Imagine you paid money to go to a show where the band performed for thirty minutes. You’d be like what the hell man? Really? It took longer to walk inside from the parking lot! Do you know of any band that only plays for thirty minutes? I want my pizza in thirty minutes or less, not my music. All that says to me is there is a LOT of postproduction clean up in the studio, something you can’t do obviously live. Which makes sense because the Beatles stopped touring in 1966. The mark of a great band is their live shows. The best show I ever saw was Pearl Jam at MSG because they played three sets in three and a half hours. By the end of the show I was exhausted and thrilled at hearing so many songs performed even better than they sounded on my iPod. Conversely, there is nothing more disappointing than when a band can’t play their songs live. My cousin Matt saw “Third Eye Blind” live, a band I am proud to say I love and he said they were no better than okay, in a sense forever ruining his opinion of them. My last example is the late band, “Type O Negative.” I saw them three times over a six-year span and each time I left with a big dumb smile on my face. They never went over an hour, probably fifteen minutes of that were spent listening to the pitch perfect banter that is Pete Steele and yet all three shows were dead on great. There is nothing better than listening to live music.
5) Once they stopped touring they didn’t care about their appearances and could now embrace the hippy movement. Allow me to adopt a word from our Canadian brethren from the North but to me all that means is they were a punch of “posers.” Now that they didn’t care about appearances and started ingesting a copious amount of drugs they could make “interesting” music, music that took chances and wasn’t the safe teenage stuff of years past. To be fair I give them credit for expanding out of their tight corporate musical box. Good for you. Of course Pearl Jam decided to be different for their third album, “Vitalogy” and I don’t know anyone who to this day goes, “wow I’m so happy they made a seven minute version of “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me””
For those five reasons I cannot for the life of me fathom how people can say the Beatles were the greatest band of all time. Were they the blueprint for record labels to manufacture bands? Yes. Were they all about image and fluff? For half their recording lives yes. Most importantly, they were incapable of putting on a great show. Thirty minutes and some hair flipping does not make a great band, especially when bands like Led Zeppelin would play for HOURS.
The Beatles were a product of good timing. They were the first boy band to play upbeat guitar love songs. They were the first to exploit television to its true advantage. In my opinion though, first does not always equal best.