I don't like the Beatles

Why I Don’t Like the Beatles: Hint — It’s Not Their Music

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.

About the author


  1. Originality is virtually impossible, even Shakespeare used other people’s stuff to create his plays. All the great artists have been inspired by someone else.

    1. Oh absolutely — and I wouldn’t disagree with that at all. It’s that we can’t have a conversation about popular music w/o culturally namechecking the Beatles.

      1. I used to be a huge Beatles fan until my hubby actually pointed out how simple their music is, it sort if took the shine off them. I think they are over rated

        1. Yeah I think that’s fair. I don’t hate their music but I think they have a lot of cultural influence.

  2. hmm, i wasnt sure by your title, i like the beatles. But i can see you point, is this not more about marketing though. Beatles were great but why did they get so famous if their music not unique?

    1. That and also we make it impossible to talk about popular music w/o mentioning the Beatles.

  3. I think the Beatles were the first pop performer-composers to truly become a global brand. Perhaps they are cited a great deal because, as such, they are a convenient benchmark. One might argue that the generation that came of age during the beatles time (1964-70) and place (1st world countries) was the last one to sing from the same hymn book (so to speak), and most of that book was comprised of beatle songs. As a consequence, Lennon-McCartney repertoire does indeed function like a mother tongue, but not necessarily an armiture: imho, globalization and digital technology (especially digital networks) have ensured that the production, consumption, & conversation about popular music has never been more diverse. The reason it may not seem that way is that this diversity is not part of mass culture: it’s under the radar in the long tail, and the conversation is often happening in idiolects. For example a genre i might have called “heavy metal” in 1974 is now refracted into countless subgenres (thrash metal, death metal, black metal etc). Similarly viz hip-hop: new jack swing, gangsta, east coast, west coast, crunk, grime, snap, bounce, glitch, trap…it’s a constant churn, If a fan of one particular sub genre wants to communicate a musical idea to a fan of a disparate genre, it’s likely an example can be found in the beatles songbook.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: