With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President-Elect of the USA, commentators have remarked that perhaps this era will also see the return of the protest song, prevalent during the tenure of hardline conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan (USA) and Margaret Thatcher (UK) in the 1980s.
Once upon a time, pop and rock came together and made a baby, and its name was Pop-Rock. Very strictly speaking, Pop-Rock is a fusion genre that mixes a catchy pop style and light lyrics in its (typically) guitar-based rock songs. Other genres that bear similar traits would be Powerpop, Melodic Rock, Soft Rock, Jangle Pop, Glam Rock, New Wave, Indie Pop and of course, Rock ’n’ Roll.
If anyone deserved the moniker ‘The Fifth Beatle’, George Martin would have been a front runner. The legendary producer signed the Fab Four to the Parlophone when Decca Records rejected them and would go on to produce all their seminal records, playing a significant role in its development.
“With every song that I write, I compare it to the Beatles. The thing is, they only got there before me. If I’d been born at the same time as John Lennon, I’d have been up there.”
This mind-boggling quote comes from Noel Gallagher. The self-delusion is obvious but the fact that Gallagher has made a career out of plagiarism is proof of how wrong this statement is. If not for the inspiration of The Beatles (and many others), nobody would have even heard of Noel Gallagher (sounds like heaven!).
Here’s part one of a playlist put together to celebrate The Beatles’ entry into the streaming services. This playlist covers the Fab Four’s early years of Beatlemania (1963 – 65) whereby in 2 short years, the band released SIX albums and numerous non-album singles and EPs, the majority of which were filled with ground-breaking, iconoclastic pop music. Enjoy!
The Beatles 1 album compiles all the #1 hits that the Fab Four issued during their career & always provides a concise history of the band’s popularity. The original compilation was released 15 years ago and this reissue pairs the 27 tracks with videos (it is the Youtube age, after all).
Regular PoP visitors will be aware that I am a massive Beatles fan. The Fab Four (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr) were the first band I ever obsessed over as a teenager and Abbey Road – the band’s final LP – was the first album I ever owned.
By that time, the Beatles had broken up a couple of years already and the individual members were busy releasing their solo LPs. I had friends who were equally besotted with the Fab Four and together we even formed our first band – the Beatles-channeling Hornets in the mid-70s! Like many Beatles fans, I dreamed of a reunion and this seemed even more possible when John came out of his 5-year hiatus in 1980 & released Double Fantasy with his wife Yoko Ono.
Of course, that dream was smashed into pieces when John was murdered outside his home on 8th December that year. It’s almost 35 years since that fateful day but the Beatles remain in my view the best band the world has ever seen (and ever will see). One could argue that the Beatles were at the right time and place as the universe conspired to provide the perfect conditions for the band to irreversibly change the world and to write their names into the history books.
Even as the music industry evolves decade after decade and music revolutions come and go, the popularity of the Beatles remains constant and the music they created fifty odd years still resonate to music lovers worldwide. Though the band was once closely associated with the sixties, it’s might be said that they have transcended that epoch to stand alone and become truly timeless icons. Consider the immense popularly of teen idol Taylor Swift, a search on Youtube – probably one of the most popular websites that teens frequent – will provide about 6.1 million results. Guess how many results a Beatles youtube search will provide? How about 5.5 million! Not bad for a band that last released a new album in 1970.
And so… whilst it has been more than a good 40 years since I first heard a Beatles song, I rest assured that years may pass and the latest pop thing may disappear into oblivion (how long more for TayTay?) but one thing will stay the same – it will always be the Beatles Forever!
It has been 45 years since The Beatles broke up but the Fab Four still set the standard for pop success – which explains its continued relevance and appeal in 2015.
1 was a compilation album, originally released on 13 November 2000. The album featured virtually every number-one single released in the United Kingdom and United States from 1962 to 1970 by the Beatles. Issued on the 30th anniversary of the band’s break-up, 1 was their first compilation available on one compact disc. 1 was a commercial success, and topped the charts worldwide. 1 has sold over 31 million copies.
This November, Apple Corps Ltd/UMG will re-issue 1 but this time, also with a comprehensive restoration of the promotional films and videos of The Beatles #1 songs after the band had stopped touring in 1966. Thus, the re-issue will come in CD, DVD and Blu-ray formats and will no doubt satisfy Beatles fans, old and new.
I have seen restored clips of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” (see below) and they look crystal clear – almost as if seeing them for the very first time. It is good to know that The Beatles continue to be recognised for being ahead of their time and provide a benchmark for all pop artists to emulate.
By the time I really got into rock music (at age 13), the Beatles were over. It was 1974 and though live rock music was banned in Singapore, it didn’t stop us delinquent youth from discovering the music that would keep me alive & kicking for the rest of my life. Abbey Road – the band’s final opus – was the first Beatles LP I ever owned. I believe it was a gift from my sister Melinda. To this date, Abbey Road is my 2nd favourite Beatles LP, after the White Album. The medley from Side Two is unforgettable – I remember jamming the songs constantly with my first band – it was magical. From “You Never Give Me Your Money” to “The End”, it encapsulated the wonder of the Fab Four even as they were making plans beyond the group. There will never be another pop group like The Beatles ever again. Amen.
A PoP feature where we examine the influence on ART on rock and pop music, in particular album covers.
Today we look at Pop-art, a movement that began in UK and the USA in the 50s. The dominant figure in this ‘genre’ is probably one of the most influential artists in contemporary art – Andy Warhol.
Released in 1967, The Velvet Underground & Nico may not have sold many units but it’s enduring significance cannot be over-emphasized. What was also unique about the album design was that early copies of the album invited the owner to “Peel slowly and see”, peeling back the banana skin revealed a flesh-colored banana underneath. Recently, there was a legal battle between the Andy Warhol Foundation of Visual Arts and the band over copyrights over the cover design.