WARNING: Essay-like post alert. This post is long. Sorry. I guess I’m in a chatty mood!
Hopefully this title isn’t misleading, because I’m not actually 50 years old. But today does mark 50 years exactly since the Beatles’ debut album, Please Please Me, was released. Listening to it today, it doesn’t really sound dated at all, because to me, the idea of the Beatles as a young rock band singing these songs is still exciting.
This got me thinking that the Beatles have been a part of the music world for half of a century, with no signs of their popularity waning. Right now, I know a lot of people my age who love the Beatles and I see people wearing Beatle shirts everywhere I go. They’re still a part of pop culture over 40 years after their breakup. It’s astounding to me that in the last 50 years, no one has replicated their popularity, songwriting proficiency, or musical influence. I firmly believe that the musical revolution they were a part of in the 60s will never be recreated in any form. The Beatles were truly one of a kind and innovators in every aspect of culture, from clothing and hairstyles to movies, and of course had a massive impact on the music industry. I don’t think that there will ever be another Beatles because by definition, they were one of a kind.
So why am I going on and on about how amazing the Beatles were and how no one will ever replace them? Well, as readers of this blog know, I generally prefer to listen to music from 30-40 years ago as opposed to what is on the radio now, and that’s not because I’m a 15 year old stick-in-the-mud who belongs in the 60s and thinks that the Beatles are the only musicians worth listening to. I actually do enjoy music from a number of artists from this generation, mostly from the folk-rock or alternative genres, including Foster the People, thenewno2, Phillip Phillips, Adele, and Maroon 5. I choose to be interested in music today because you never know what might come on the radio. There could be a song you hear that introduces you to artists that you didn’t even know existed, but that you now love because you gave them a chance. Although I primarily listen to older artists, I think that those who only listen to classic rock could miss out on some new exciting band that grabs their attention. I’m always thrilled by the possibility that there will be another Beatles to come around in my lifetime, but with the direction that most modern music is heading, I don’t think it will ever happen.
The fact of the matter is, for every song that I hear on the Top 40 stations today, there are usually 10-15 songs that I don’t like. I’m hardly ever possessed to download a song that I hear on the radio, and that’s because nothing about modern music excites me. Most of the songs on the pop stations follow the exact same formula, and I can predict exactly how each song will go before I hear the whole thing. Now, that’s not to say that pop songs of the early 60s didn’t go by a formula, because I’m fully aware that many early 60s songs sound pretty alike.
However, what made the Beatles so special was that they found a way to break this formula and be true originals, and I just don’t see that potential from most of today’s artists. I’m not a fan of the idea that almost all pop songs today have to be about partying, drinking, or some other risque activity. That doesn’t excite me, make me happy, or make me feel good about life. It actually depresses me, which is not what I think music is supposed to do. Music, to me, should make you smile and want to dance, and just because a song has a dance beat fit for a club doesn’t make it happy and danceable in my mind. Whenever I hear the Beatles, I smile and feel better about life, just because they existed, and I really can’t say that about most modern artists.
Also, I wonder what has happened to showcasing actual talent on stage. I see performances on awards shows of artists with more back up dancers that I can count, lip-syncing to a song that is not that good, and I just think, “Can they sing? Can they sing and play an instrument at the same time?” That, to me, is real talent, not being able to wear a catsuit on stage or rap lyrics that are filled with curses and insulting, derogatory remarks. I also can’t stand that 90% of singers sound exactly like someone else, or everyone else, in the industry. I identify strongly with a unique voice singing a song, not just a good voice.
Finally, the lyrics to most songs today have no real depth or poetry to them and are basically interchangable with most other songs. Lyrics to a lot of rock songs from the 60s and 70s, and also into the 80s and 90s, are actually interesting and the song is worth hearing just for the words. Sometimes when I listen to my favorite Beatles albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver, or one of George’s albums like All Things Must Pass, I just listen for the lyrics and how beautiful they are. That type of lyrical creativity is not very present among most popular songs of today.
So, the message of this post is, if you really want to hear music that is cool, exciting, and makes you happy and feeling good about life, look no further than the Beatles. Other than Foster the People and thenewno2, both of whom I feel actually make an attempt to sound new and interesting, most music today is fairly generic and formulaic. Yawn. I’d rather listen to the Beatles harmonizing beautifully on “This Boy” eight days a week than hear “What Makes You Beautiful” for the thousandth freaking time.
To FINALLY conclude this post, which I’m 100% sure is twice as long as anyone is willing to read, if you somehow make it to the bottom, here’s your reward for reading the whole post. This might be my #1 favorite live performance of the Beatles. I guarantee that no artist today could pull off what they do here: singing 3 part harmony flawlessly on live TV, on an amazing song that they wrote themselves, while playing instruments and standing within an inch of each other. Not to mention that they’re the best looking band ever! 🙂