On The Beatles' Influence

Added on by Taylor Smith.

See the following article: Billboard: Rap’s Impact Outweighs Influence of The Beatles, Says Scientific Study.

Obviously this article is really just “click bait” aimed at baby-boomers, but I must admit that I actually agree with it in part. The “scientific” methodology sounds pretty spotty to me, especially when they are attempting to “measure” something so not-very-measurable. I am, however, always interested in contrarian views on topics like this, especially ones that I think have some merit.

So, here is where I agree: I think that the Beatles get more credit than they deserve. Maybe not a lot more, but I am not sure they deserve all of the deification and praise that has been thrown at them since 1964. I also think that George Martin gets less credit than he deserves. Certainly portions of Sgt. Pepper’s, probably significant ones, are his doing. The same goes for the musique concrète and aleatoric stuff on the White Album.

Malcolm Gladwell has this whole chapter in Outliers about The Beatles’ supposed 10,000 hours of experience that accounts for their greatness. Though I don’t disagree that this preparation (I do question the math involved, however) made them better at what they did, I think this discounts the simple dumb luck of doing the right thing at the right time, of being in the right place at the right time. Especially since The Beatles’ influence has very little to do with their playing ability (what those 10,000 hours of practice would have developed), and everything to do with songwriting and record production—which, again, have a lot to do with George Martin.

There you go. Time to burn me at the stake.