The Most Overrated Band in History [by Will]

beatlespicBuntology.com does not endorse the following comments. Like, at all. Don’t shoot the messenger, people!

It shouldn’t be surprising that the most overrated band in history is also, most commonly rated as the greatest band in history. I’m referring of course, to – yep, you guessed it – The Beatles. I’d be an idiot if I were writing this to convince an audience that The Beatles were not a staple of the ’60s or an influential band. They were. And they still are. A lot of my favorite modern artists cite The Beatles as a big influence on their music. But it still asks the unanswered question, “Is it deserved?” The Beatles cast a shadow on the 1960s that was so large and stretched so far that it blocked the spotlight from bands that are now too often overlooked and forgotten today.

Anyone young enough to have been born post-60s that has tuned into an FM radio knows bands like Simon & Garfunkle, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and The Beach Boys. Most of us can probably even name a song or two by them. In 1957 while Simon & Garfunkel were playing the guitar and singing harmonies, McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr wouldn’t have all met or had record label for another three years. If you typed in “Mrs. Robinson” in Napster (back when it was free), tell me that at least half the mp3s listed didn’t have The Beatles credited as the artist.

Other than the one-sided rivalry between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, there was another somewhat less known (and perhaps even more prevalent) rivalry between The Beatles and The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys were much bigger than “Surfin’ USA” and “Wouldn’t it be Nice?” Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a large part of the reason The Beatles became what they were. I’ll use a quote from a book I have lying around in my house, “A rivalry developed between the Beach Boys and Beatles. When one group released a new album, it prompted the other to see if they could top it, a process that intensified as both bands’ music became more serious and complex.”

At their peaks, both bands released what most critics agree to be their best albums – Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band respectively. The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds during the spring of 1966. The album inspired The Beatles to work tirelessly writing and producing Sgt. Pepper’s, which was released less than a year later. Paul McCartney said, “No one is educated musically until they hear Pet Sounds. It is a total classic record that is unbeatable in many ways … Pet Sounds was our inspiration for making Sgt. Pepper’s. I just thought, ‘Oh dear me, this is the album of all time. What are we going to do?”

You don’t have to do anything, Paul. You and your pals will undeservingly receive credit for creating modern rock ‘n roll no matter what the competition does.

But what about the other guys? Guys like Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page? And oh, Eric Clapton. Ever heard of them? They were around back then, right? All three of them played in The Yardbirds in the early ’60s. You might not own any Yardbirds’ albums, but before The Beatles made their Ed Sullivan Show appearance, The Yardbirds were coming up with musical ideas and concepts that are all too familiar today. According to the ever-factual wikipedia.org: “The Yardbirds were pioneers in almost every guitar innovation of the ’60s: fuzz tone, feedback, distortion, backwards echo, improved amplification. They were one of the first to put an emphasis on complex lead guitar parts and experimentation.” Name me eight Beatles songs. I bet you can do it. Now name me two Yardbirds songs.

Still stuck? You can use google.

So why is it that the father-group of all those fundamental rock innovations sits at a lowly rank of 89 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time? I bet you could never guess what band sits at number one! So why are The Beatles so legendary? I believe it’s because British Invasion, Peace and Love, teenage girls, and Beatlemania snowballed The Beatles into supernatural status that grew and grew and fed off of its own hype. SPELLCHECK didn’t even underline Beatlemania! I’m using google to type this and it underlines ‘google’ as a misspelled word, but not ‘Beatlemania.’ This is sickening.

Look, I’m not a Beatle-hater. Come have a look at my music selection and you’ll find more than a handful of Beatles songs. But The Beatles don’t rightfully belong at the place they lie in music history right now. All they really should be… is a single chapter in a book of great music from an era that reinvented music. I don’t think the world would have been a better place without The Beatles… but a world without The Beatles is a world where forgotten legends like Brian Wilson don’t have to sit and wonder, “What did Lennon do that I didn’t?” And if you have to go look up who Brian Wilson is, thank you for further proving my point.

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Comments

  1. Rochelle/Mom says:

    OMG!! Since I bought my husband the autobiography of Eric Clapton for Christmas and since Clapton was my first real concert(1970)and since I also saw Jeff Beck in concert back in the 70’s…not to mention my vivid memory of watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show that evening in the 60’s I feel I can comment.

    Please>>> Brian Wilson? The Beach Boys? No comparison! Well, that is just my personal taste.

    Just because the Beatles have the legendary status that they do does not mean that other bands were not incredible and memorable. Simon and Garfunkle, The Stones (LOVE!!!), Clapton, so many more. I could go on about Motown groups til you want to throw up but the point is that the Beatles have 2 things which make them “The Beatles”.
    1. Songs that have mass appeal- My mom never sang along to my Led Zepplin album
    2. Longevity- See reason #1- Regardless of how much musical talent you may or may not think they had people loved their songs and continue to love them. It just won’t go away.

    Some things can’t be explained. They just are. They just happen. Sorry.

  2. On Pet Sounds:

    “I’ve often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John [Lennon] so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence … it was the record of the time. The thing that really made me sit up and take notice was the bass lines … and also, putting melodies in the bass line. That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. “God Only Knows” is a big favourite of mine … very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On “You Still Believe in Me”, I love that melody – that kills me … that’s my favourite, I think … it’s so beautiful right at the end … comes surging back in these multi-coloured harmonies … sends shivers up my spine” – Paul McCartney

    “I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everything that’s ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one.” – Eric Clapton

    “For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty.” – Elton John

    “Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.” – George Martin

    “That ear — I mean, Jesus, he’s got to will that to the Smithsonian.” – Bob Dylan [on Brian Wilson]

  3. I’ve been listening to a lot of Beach Boys stuff. Brian Wilson was (and is) an utterly amazing talent. “Genius” gets tossed around too easily in conversations like this, but I think Brian Wilson qualifies. The Beach Boys are, indeed, underappreciated in many ways.

    That said, Brian’s best work, generally speaking, was made by 1967, and much of it never saw the light of day unless you had SMiLE bootlegs. After that there were flashes of brilliance but Brian really flamed out, creatively, when SMiLE tanked. The Beach Boys output after that didn’t stand up to what the Beatles were doing.

    The Beatles went out on top, called it quits as the best band ever. The Beach Boys, mostly because Mike Love has zero artistic integrity, haven’t meant squat to the music world in nearly 40 years. Since the mid to late 70’s, the BBs have been nothing but a nostalgia act. It’s really sad because had Brian stayed clean/healthy and Carl and Dennis had their way, the band would’ve kept exploring new musical ideas.

    Sorry to ramble.

  4. yea but youre citing musicians. if you polled millions of musicians they might not all say “oh yes the beatles are the best.” but in the eyes of regular erryday people, the beatles did it the best.

  5. I very much agree Ourboy.

    And Ange, I only cite artists because I feel like their credibility is a lot more valuable (to me anyway) than what the masses think. I *know* most people prefer The Beatles to The Beach Boys. That’s probably even an enormous understatement. But I mention the artists opinions because they’re the experts.

    It’s like… I could walk around and get ten thousand opinions from everyday people on what the best way to get to the moon is. Or I could just ask ten people who work for NASA. They’re the one’s who really know what’s up.

  6. Rochelle/Mom says:

    So what is the discussion here (and Ange? Will? maybe a good one for Dyalogues?)are the Beatles over-rated by society, by us commoners, by the media? Not getting it. My point is, when a band is as ridiculously as popular as the Beatles for as long as they have been there is more to it than just the music and Paul’s cuteness. There is another element that one can’t quite explain. Now if you are just discussing musical talent I am quite sure there are a lot of very talented unknowns out there wondering why they have yet to make it so… what makes one band popular for 15 minutes, 15 years, or forever is more than just who can write or sing the best song. It is a combination of talent, luck, timing, intelligence, and much more.

  7. tom cruise says:

    possible deal with a theoretical devil cleverly disguised by singing about love?

  8. I’d make the argument that they’re overrated by common people/society. And I suppose the media comes along with that by default.

    I don’t think they’re a bad band or untalented musicians. They just blew up to the point that their music was all that people really talk about from the era. They’re so commonly credited as the best band ever by virtually EVERYONE who appreciates that genre of music. Why are there so many Beatles covers? Why are a third of all the music on ‘Oldies’ radio stations Beatles songs? Why does a movie as terrible as “Across The Universe” exist? The Beatles hype dwarfed the potential impact that so many other deserving, and talented bands at that time should have gotten.

    And because of all that hype, they’re rated so highly. And because of how highly they’re rated, they’re so highly overrated.

    But really, all I ask is not to be told how AWESOME the Beatles are by someone who can’t even hum the tune to a Bob Dylan song.

  9. all you need is love ! 😉

  10. Oh, so your’re talking about regular stupid people.

  11. “Peace and Love, Peace and Love…” Seriously, google search, “artists influenced by Brian Wilson,” as opposed to “artists influenced by the Beatles.”

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