Tanner Babcock

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The Beatles

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Year Title Rating
1963 Please Please Me 3/10
1963 With the Beatles 3/10
1964 Meet the Beatles 3.5/10
1964 A Hard Day's Night 4/10
1965 Help! 5/10
1965 Rubber Soul 5/10
1966 Revolver 6.5/10
1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 7/10
1967 Magical Mystery Tour 6/10
1968 The Beatles 6/10
1969 Abbey Road 7/10
1970 Let It Be 5/10

Review last updated: April 21, 2017

It is endlessly irritating that the majority of the rock-listening world is still under the delusion that The Beatles were anything other than a well-executed marketing gimmick. These were nothing but cute white guys, factory-tested chord progressions, and clever jingles that were too accessible and simplified to not be strategically marketed. If one of the all-time clean cut pretty-boys with loose hips had been an old man or a slackjaw or an eccentric, with all the same talent, The Beatles would have been forgotten with every other dime-a-dozen pop sensation. The Beatles are commercialism personified. Have you ever noticed every world-acclaimed rock institution is always really attractive? Did Elvis Presley really have anything to offer the world besides his swinging hips? What if that's all The Beatles really are? A teenage boyband chart-topper that became walking cliche hippies that accidentally made a couple of good records?

The whole world of rock music seems to be under the impression that The Beatles were the best, just because they sold the most. People seem to think that The Beatles "innovations" of the late sixties were anything other than million-dollar corporate-funded flavor-of-the-month controls. The tape loops and strings of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's would not have been possible were the artists anything less than millionaire celebrities. Each and every one of the Beatles' albums is a product, something that has been carefully marketed by corporate executives, something designed to be accessible to sell a lot of copies. This "Beatlemania" seems to be hereditary, because even young listeners exposed to actual talent still cling onto this boyband from generations past.

If you like The Beatles, you probably like them because it's safe, and it's easy. Or you haven't been exposed to much else. You don't have to think too hard about The Beatles, just like you don't have to think too hard about Radiohead, or The Flaming Lips, or Nirvana, or anything, really. Why analyze an album or a work of art more than you have to? Does it really surprise anyone that the messages and values of "hey man, peace and love, everything's gon be okay" are still marketable 50 years later?

The Beatles' earliest works were forgettable, substanceless trash. Somehow I'm not blown away by the ridiculous commercial success of happy feel-good she-might-have-sex-with-you sunshine pop. Am I really supposed to take bone-dry uninspired chart-toppers like "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You Yeah" and "Hard Day's Night" and "Yesterday" seriously in the slightest? How is the whole world of "serious" music listeners still tricked by this marketing ploy? The group's colorful works Sgt. Pepper's and Abbey Road are the only full albums I can listen to by them that don't make me want to beat my head into a wall. While they accidentally stumbled upon a few forward-thinking aesthetics and clever studio tricks on Revolver and even the White album, these works are not stimulating enough to sit around and listen to start-to-finish.

Even though I can hardly sit through the mom-and-pop good-time-gatefold they put out in 1968, I think "Revolution 9" is the greatest thing the Beatles have ever done, and the only composition worthy of serious commentary and consideration. This is a sound collage, a bold adventure from a time when sound collages were few and far between, and almost entirely academic. It also almost totally devoid of musical content. This is the Beatles', or rather John Lennon's, most remarkable sonic experiment. And of course this is the one thing they did that is divided and dismissed by their fan base (read: literally anyone with a radio after 1966). If The Beatles had made a full album of ambiguous, symbolic, genuinely intriguing works like "Revolution 9", it would be phenomenal. Instead, they refused to give up their pop music formula for even a side. This is why the White album is interesting, but also a massive disappointment.

I'm so sick of this band. I just don't care about them any more, and it amazes me that anyone still does. Is 50 years of unanimous approval and historical vanity not enough for this treehouse club of white boys? Can't the world move on? Oh wait, it's almost like the Beatles' shallow infatuations and malignant viruses on critical thinking are just as marketable and financially palatable 50 years later. Everyone wants to be told the cute girl likes them. Everyone wants a nice little ballad about how yesterday their troubles were far away. The music industry makes a thousand dollars from these feel-good messages every time someone turns on a radio. The Beatles sold a million records and made a billion dollars because their manufactured products were designed to appeal to everyone. This is not what anyone should want out of music, or art, or life. Just because something is easy to like and process doesn't mean it's good for you, in fact it's almost always the opposite.