Music: The Beatles, greatest "popular consensus" band of all time?

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by OzzyFan, May 31, 2020.

  1. OzzyFan Registered User

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    Since that Joy Division debate thread occurred, I decided to re-listen to The Beatles studio albums chronologically from start to finish (Please Please Me to Let It Be) to gauge their production and talents. What I took from this exercise was....The Beatles have a countless amount of the greatest pop/pop rock songs of all time that are catchy, brilliant, and creative. Also of mention is, there are songs that are sheer masterpieces, at minimum within their own genre imho, including but not limited to Yesterday, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, A Day in the Life, All You Need Is Love, and Eleanor Rigby. I have to think that out of all the bands of the 20th century(if not wider), if there is one band that will live on a few centuries, it would be them. Partially because them being the greatest Pop/Pop Rock band of all time, Partially because the relatability in their songs, partially because the catchiness of their songs, and partially because the sheer brilliance in their songs (and arguably sometimes, brilliant simplicity).


    So, . I certainly agree to give them this crown after re-listening, but what do you all think...are The Beatles the greatest "popular consensus" band of all time? If not, where do you rank them, top 5? top 10? And whom is ahead of them?
     
  2. brokeu91 HFBoards Sponsor Sponsor

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    I think they are and it’s not even really close. If they only made “Sargent Peppers” and the White Album that alone would put them in the top 5
     
  3. Osprey Registered User

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    I would agree that they probably are... and I say that as someone who's never been all that fond of them or understood the hyperbole, so it's not bias talking. Of course, they're also one of the oldest rock bands, so familiarity, nostalgia and influence are likely factors. Elvis and Michael Jackson might compete with them as most popular act, but most popular band probably does belong to them.
     
  4. frisco Some people claim that there's a woman to blame...

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    Definitely the consensus #1 band of all-time no question. I wouldn't put them in my personal top 20 but that's just my taste.

    My Best-Carey
     
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  5. jumptheshark Rebooting myself Sponsor

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    Joy Division/New Order discussion is a joke---After seeing New Order live a few a years ago I changce my view on the band but they are are still not top 20


    but The Beatles influence in mainstream rock and roll is undeniable
     
  6. MikeyMike01 U.S.S. Wang

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  7. kihei Registered User

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    Whoever #2 is, they are a long, long ways away.

    From Business Insider:
    Their collection of greatest hits, called "1", was released in 2000 and has sold 33 million units so far and counting, the fourth best selling album in the US since 1991 when Nielsen Soundscan started tracking sales. Overall the Beatles have sold over 65 million albums this century:
    According to CBS, The Beatles sold 1.6 BILLION singles.
    As of 2020, the Beatles have now sold 186 million albums in the US, 280 million worldwide, over doubling Michael Jackson's total as well as comfortably ahead of Elvis Presley (146.5 in the US) --Business Insider
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
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  8. Fantomas Registered User

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    Give me The Velvet Underground any day of the week.
     
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  9. Miguel Cairo Registered User

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    I’d have to take Rilo Kiley over them.
     
  10. Shareefruck Registered User

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    I'm obsessed with The Beatles. I think that their popularity, mass appeal, iconic status, marketability, cultural/musical influence, and historical impact are gargantuan, miraculous and undeniable. I also find their lore and mystique the most addicting of any band to find out everything about. Unlike these other musicians, you can legitimately sink down that rabbit hole and let these factors consume your life. If you treat your musical experience as an all-encompassing storybook narrative, The Beatles easily have the best one (it almost all feels too perfect to be non-fiction), in my opinion.

    However, I strongly disagree with the notion that the above really has anything to do with how great an artist's music is, which is what I think of when I refer to "greatness," personally. In the case of The Beatles, the stars align so much (and the quality of their music is so close to matching it) that I come close to being willing to make that concession. However, there are other artists who I REALLY don't consider anything remotely close to being among the "greatest" who satisfy similar qualities, such as The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, and there's no way in hell I can get behind that. It's the same reason I don't consider Star Wars to be one of the greatest films of all time, despite thoroughly knocking many of those (in my opinion, irrelevant) external aspects/outcomes out of the park. I think I'd be a hypocrite to treat it as a significant factor for The Beatles simply because I also incidentally happen to think nearly as highly of their music. At best, I might view it as a tie-breaker.

    Usually, the above qualities have very little, if any correlation to how good an artist's music necessarily is, in my opinion, but I will say that I think The Beatles are an outlier that are about as close as I've ever seen to something with that type of universal draw having quality of output that I feel matches it (in contrast, I don't think things like Elvis and Michael Jackson come close to matching their reputation). Another reason that correlation especially does not resonate with me when it comes to The Beatles is because I think that the primary catalyst for their mass appeal and cultural impact is Paul McCartney over everyone else, whereas I'm significantly more impressed and appreciative of John Lennon's contributions over everyone else (for the record, I think they're both good). The things that make them huge are completely different from the things that make their music great, from my perspective. Songs like Yesterday, Let it Be, and Hey Jude are their most famous songs, but I personally find them pretty underwhelming and uninteresting compared to stuff like Tomorrow Never Knows, She Said, She Said, and Strawberry Fields, which is the type of output that I feel elevates them into greatness.

    When it comes to my opinion of their actual (musical) greatness, they're in my top 5-15 but definitely aren't my #1. They have one album that I would consider an outright front-to-back masterpiece (or at least close enough-- Revolver), and 4-5 albums that I think are at least a few tracks short of that, with a handful of things about them that I personally consider outright flaws (usually but not always the token light-hearted McCartney or Ringo sing-a-long, such as Maxwell Silver's Hammer, Octopus' Garden, When I'm 64, Don't Pass Me By, or Honey Pie)-- then reasonably solid but not particularly incredible or needle-moving output after that. So when other musicians exist who I think have multiple front-to-back outright masterpieces without any flaws (or even just musicians with standalone albums that I think are better than Revolver-- although that's a flimsier argument), I simply cannot consider The Beatles better or greater. Let alone abide by this ridiculous concept of a unanimous, authoritative, "your opinion is invalid if you think otherwise" absolute greatest (like what was argued in the New Order thread).

    When it comes to The Velvet Underground, they have two albums that I feel are far superior to Revolver, and another that's on par with it, so I would consider them a better/greater band on those grounds. When it comes to Brian Eno, I feel that he has both more masterpieces, a stronger peak, and far more prolific and consistent output than The Beatles, so that's a no brainer for me as well. Something like Joy Division is tougher for me-- I can maybe go along with The Beatles being the easy answer with that one, but with a bit of resistance. While I consider Closer to be as good if not better than The Beatles best album and Unknown Pleasures to be better than any of the others (and peak is what I appreciate above all else), that's like a near-tie in peak vs. a complete steam-rolling in every other area.

    I would consider all of these bands significantly better/greater than The Stones/Zeppelin/New order (which are all completely out of the picture and barely make a dent for me), though, personally. Hell, you could tack on ten additional New Orders to the end of Joy Division and it wouldn't improve their case very much vs. The Beatles, IMO.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
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  11. kook10 Registered User

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    Clearly. The Beatles were the sun. Everyone felt their heat and grew in their light, even if reflected by the moon.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
  12. peate Good grief!

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    Ask the average listener, and they might hesitate; ask a musician and it's almost unanimous.
     
  13. Eisen Registered User

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    The Beatles are easily no1 when considering everything. I just wish they didn't write Yellow Submarine and Revolution No9. I never mind listening to one of their albums, which is rare.
     
  14. Aladyyn counting stats are the devil

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    By popular consensus they certainly are and I don't think it's close. How much weight one puts on that is a different question.
     
  15. OzzyFan Registered User

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    Maybe the better question would have been who's the #2 "Greatest "popular consensus" band/artist of all time? :laugh:

    Maybe names mentioned in this thread already would compete for this title.
     
  16. Siamese Dream Registered User

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    It's Queen
     
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  17. x Tame Impala Registered User Sponsor

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    Zeppelin for me.
     
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  18. brokeu91 HFBoards Sponsor Sponsor

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    Either Led Zeppelin or Nirvana for me. Probably Zeppelin given their longevity
     
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  19. Violenza Domestica Registered User

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    Great post, I wish I had written it myself. Agree with everything (except the bands you suggest are better than the Beatles, I would have went with others, but the result is the same). I think the Beatles are without a doubt the greatest "popular consensus" band of all time, but that doesn't mean they're, to me, the bestest band of all time. Still, like you said, contrarily to most of what makes consensus, their worth is pretty much equal to their success. Top-5 for me.
     
  20. montreal Go Habs Go

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    Love the Beatles, they have so many great songs but also as individuals as well, especially Lennon who has some great ones. Jealous Guy, Woman, Oh My Love, Mother, God, Mind Games, Just Like Starting Over, Beautiful Boy etc..
     
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  21. kihei Registered User

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    #2: could see cases for Led Zep, the Stones, Pink Floyd, and Queen who are probably bigger now than they were in their heyday. Probably give it to Led Zeppelin who have aged incredibly well.
     
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  22. ORRFForever Registered User

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    Yes.

    Beatles # 1 by a large margin.

    Led Zeppelin is the only band that comes close. Maybe the Stones.
     
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  23. ORRFForever Registered User

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    I have NEVER understood the love for Queen. I find them incredibly overrated.
     
  24. Bogart Masked Wrestler

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    1. Stones
    2. Zeppelin
     
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  25. peate Good grief!

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    Zeppelin is said to have invented Heavy Metal. When it came out in 1969, it was original; close second, Iron Butterfly and Black Sabbath.
     

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