I know, I know. I’m aware of what you must be thinking. For a guy who writes a lot about culture he sure doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But there’s a reason I don’t like the Beatles, and it’s certainly not their music. While I mostly write about video games, television, and travel, I do listen to a lot of music. At least enough to have an idea of how the Spotify algorithm works. But while I haven’t really written a whole lot about music, I do know how music influences culture. And it’s not always good.
In short, the Beatles are everywhere. Not just in their physical presence, but in their cultural influence. While you’ve likely heard the Beatles greatest hits compilations while you were still in the womb, you probably aren’t as familiar with the music they were inspired by (or some would say ripped off). Artists like Chuck Berry and Bobby Parker, even after their deaths, haven’t really gotten their fair shake. And that’s not just unfortunate — it makes music worse.
It also means that the discourse around pop music hasn’t really changed for almost half a century. For instance, is it really fair to say that Harry Styles ripped off the Beatles’ “Blackbird” when the song itself was inspired by Bach? Pop music, in a sense, has just become a rehashing of itself, and that is a big reason why I don’t like the Beatles. The buck always stops with them. Their cultural influence on the discourse of music stops any serious conversation from happening. And declaring that “I don’t like the Beatles” is tantamount to committing musical treason.
Still — that isn’t to discount the Beatles musically. They’re a solid precursor and are super prolific. And they brought a very different style of music into the public consciousness. But that style hasn’t changed in half a century. And that not only makes our own culture poorer, but it makes our experience of listening to music poorer when we refuse to take anything seriously that doesn’t sound like the Beatles.