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The Beatles

The Beatles are the most overrated band in the history of the world. They are routinely touted by the oppressively baby-boomer dominated media as anything and everything from the “most exciting” to “most important” to, most ludicrously, “the greatest rock” band of all time. (To say the Beatles were a rock band at all is to say that Weird Al is a gangster rapper or a grunge band.) We are constantly pummeled by misty-eyed, enthusiastic but nonsensical gushings about how exciting the Beatles were, and how they “changed everything.” Well, if they did change everything, take a look around at what pop/rock became and then ask yourself if you would mind terribly if some one could please change it back.

The causation of the deification of this, by all accounts totally mediocre, band is fairly easy to grasp for the observer who is lucky enough not to have been one of the still-wet-behind-the-ears baby-boomers who had their frontal lobes briskly scoured by the corporate generational brainwashing session that occurred during the years shortly after the Beatles hit, or any of their spawn who received this brilliant marketing scheme residually by their elders, for whom it was already too late.

It is simply explained by the fact the Beatles were receiving an ungodly amount of airplay and media attention during the time that the all powerful baby-boomer generation was going through the magical journey that is puberty and young adulthood that consequently the sound of the Beatles were forever linked to all the fond memories and hormonally charged emotions that that ever-amusing chapter of life entails. The only thing special about the Beatles was that, for whatever reason, they were everywhere when the largest, most cohesive demographic was at their most malleable.

How, then, do you explain the fact that so many mature, otherwise perfectly rational and intelligent people, like the Beatles? The answer comes from the fact that the Beatles never appealed to them, or anyone, on an intellectual or even rational level. Ask a Beatles fan to explain what is so brilliant about their “greatest band ever” and any attempt at quantifying or extolling the virtues of the actual music reliably gives way to any of a number of befuddled ramblings, desperately seeking to exonerate the band. These include panicky pontifications pertaining to: the good looks of the band members, an amorphous and unexplainable sense of “excitement” that the band carried (that, apparently, is entirely separate from any existing recordings, as far as I can tell), the amount of records they sold (always an indication of artistic excellence), and the message that Beatles sent.

What message? This is a band whose only statements involved an endorsement of friendship and taking the always-controversial stance that love is nice, and even this, most pasteurized of credos was quickly rendered dubious when confronted with the actions of certain band members. Free love will only go so far when you are unwilling to accept the basic human responsibility of parenthood, you hypocritical hippies.

The songs are all totally mediocre; typically carrying no meaning whatsoever, save whatever specific memories of youth may be brought back to the aging listener. The music and much-lauded songwriting, which is often celebrated because it supposedly “evolved” so fast, is really just a sort of vanilla backdrop for the marketing of bobbing-head dolls and Beatles-endorsed foodstuffs. To say that it evolved is really not saying much… they went from Pat Boone-esque covers of R&B tunes to weak psudo-psychodelic “experimentation”. Big deal, I do more “evolving” every time I go to the bathroom.

Recently, a new compilation album of Beatles’ number one hit records was released. The very fact that such a thing could exist for one band should raise suspicions. Nonetheless, it gives that most self-absorbed generation document of the most popular (and therefore best) songs that the Beatles had to offer, in CD format. Be afraid, be very afraid.

All this having been said, let me just point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking bad music, and people who enjoy the Beatles (however misguided they may be, in my opinion) should continue to relish the fact that so many other people do too. But I would plead to you, before you continue to stack meaningless and ridiculous superlatives on your cutesy-pie idols, take a look at the real stuff, like Bo Diddley or the Velvet Underground, and reconsider whether your costumed superstars really are the Greatest Rock Band ever.