Are the Beatles overrated? | Virgin Media
Are the Beatles overrated?

Are the Beatles overrated?

06/01/2016Music

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Are they really that great?

They're the world's biggest-selling band and have finally succumbed to making their music available to download on iTunes, bringing their music to a whole new generation of fans. But is it really worth it? Are The Beatles really the best band of all time or is it just hype and a rose-tinted yearning for history? We investigate…

 

They stopped playing live

They stopped playing live

The Beatles blame the hordes of screaming girls for their giving up of live gigs, but surely the response was to play louder. The Rolling Stones' fans didn't exactly stand at the front with their arms crossed, and last we checked, Jagger and co were still eating up those air miles like a band half their age. Poor show, Beatles, poor show.

They were nothing without a decent producer

They were nothing without a decent producer

The Beatles are lauded for their envelope-testing attitude to pop sonics, but did much of their genre-busting under the sober gaze of "fifth Beatle" George Martin, a veteran EMI knob-twiddler responsible for corralling the band into some semblance of order.

What were they thinking?

What were they thinking?

Every band had to wear suits in the early 60s, it was the rules, and if you wanted to show your flagrant disregard for authority, daddio, you did it with your haircut. But then The Beatles went for the mildly rebellious, ditching the suits for an array of costumes that made them look like the walking wounded after an explosion in a fancy dress shop.

They started out rubbish

They started out rubbish

Yes, rubbish: nursery rhyme lyrics, head-shaking, "ooooooooohs!" at every turn. The Beatles' earliest work made Gerry & The Pacemakers sound like Radiohead.

Mystical mop-tops

Mystical mop-tops

The Beatles excelled at simple and direct pop songs, heartfelt and honest. But when the mop-topped Fab Four swapped Woodbines and nut brown ale for Eastern mysticism and marijuana, the whole thing went doolally. I Am The Walrus? What was wrong with Love Me Do, John, you space cadet?

They had a terrible name

They had a terrible name

Let's face it. Punning band names should be the reserve of bands who will never rise above playing weddings or tribute acts playing suburban pubs. Giving your band a name like The Beatles is just plain wrong.

Is every track a classic? Really?

Is every track a classic? Really?

Such is the high status afforded to The Beatles' work that there is no room for any criticism of anything in their canon. And, granted, the likes of Back In The USSR, Tomorrow Never Knows and Across The Universe are genius, but for every one of those we have a Maxwell's Silver Hammer or a Yellow Submarine to torpedo the genre-busting genius.

They went all music hall

They all went music hall

Inspired by the likes of Chuck Berry and the proto-punk anyone-can-play DIY attitude of post-war skiffle, The Beatles then decided to add the kind of "oops, where's me washboard?" nonsense in order to get the grans' seal of approval (the prosecution draws the court's attention to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, m'lud).

Free as a bird

Free as a bird

EMI plundered the archives in fine style in the mid-1990s to bring all sorts of oddments out of the band's cupboard. They also decided to record proper songs out of two snippets left over, the Lennon vocal of Free As a Bird and Real Love, both under the tutelage of Beatles obsessive and ELO-conductor Jeff Lynne (pictured). Both were lacklustre and soporific. This is not how a classic band should be remembered.

Peace and Love?

Peace and Love?

They may have touted peace and love, but The Beatles could be a nasty lot. The band's career was blighted by in-fighting and petty jealousies between main songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Lennon's treatment of first wife Cynthia – living in a bedsit with son Julian while Lennon toured the world in luxury – showed not all was cheeky and chirpy in the Mop Tops' worlds, despite the public personas.