The Beatles: The Greatest Band of All Time? By: Erin Bozone Ask anyone. Read any music magazine. Go to any store. The Beatles are everywhere because of the legendary contributions they made to musical history and pop culture. They are frequently referred to as the greatest band of all time. But were they really? In this paper, I will compare and contrast two conflicting opinions on The Beatles: Howard Goodall’s documentary “20th Century Greats: The Beatles” and Piero Scaruffi’s written criticism on the band.
I began reading Scaruffi’s web-based criticism, and despite being fore-warned of his unpleasant disposition, found its cynical and loathsome attitude to be unpleasant to read. Throughout the entire piece of writing, Scaruffi never ceased his constant verbal attack on The Fab Four, mercilessly calling them mediocre and generally uncreative musicians. He numerously accuses them of shameless imitation of other groups. He makes it very clear that he only believes The Beatles achieved their colossal fame due to extreme luck and just being at the right place at the right time.
They arrived just as the white middle class were beginning to feel untrustworthy of the African-American-influenced Rock and Roll. They emerged out of nowhere with a polished and tamer version, stripped of it’s black roots that was more appealing and erased the idea it was a bad influence on the youth of the time. Scaruffi doesn’t believe The Beatles to be as world-shatteringly revolutionary as every single other person on the face of planet Earth does, bluntly stating that “Their music was just easy to sell to the masses... nd they were photogenic”. Scaruffi credits their immense success not to musical ability, but to the fact that they were sellable, appealed to a broad audience, and had an infinitely accomplished producer. Scaruffi knows that George Martin was acutely influential on The Beatles musical choices and techniques. He gets this right, although is cruel in his implied beliefs that none of the Beatles themselves contributed a single thing. I believe that he is unfair stating generally that The Beatles are ntalented and unoriginal. I believe this could maybe be applied to the shallow, simple music they were creating early in their career, but to say that overall they didn’t contribute anything at all wonderful is untrue. Over the short decade, they created, experimented and expanded so much that it is practically unfathomable. He does, however, offer slight praise of some elements of their later works such as Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt.
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Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and rightfully so. After Scaruffi’s dismal, cutting composition, I warmly welcomed Howard Goodall’s Documentary “20th Century Greats: The Beatles”. I expected a much more adoring view that would better match my own opinions and that would generally be pleasant to watch. I was sadly mistaken. First of all, Goodall insists on singing the songs himself and only occasionally plays the original recording, which was unimaginably irritating to me, at least.
And not only was Goodall incessantly annoying as a narrator, he blindly worships The Beatles while offering useless information. The entire documentary describes in minute detail about the musical techniques that The Fab Four used to revolutionize music, when really they had no idea they were even using them as they were writing the songs. The only person who would’ve had an idea they were using these fancy tactics accidentally would be George Martin. I did not hear Goodall mention George Martin once... and if he had, it must have been in passing.
The only thing that Goodall got exactly right was the fact that they were brilliant at translating their feelings into music while virtually having no idea what they were doing musically, and that they did, indeed, change music forever. My own personal opinion, I think, would be somewhere in the exact middle between these two polar opposites. I love the music that The Beatles have created and think they were just spectacularly wonderful, but I also am able to recognize that a large percent of their brilliance was also contributed by George Martin and I accept that.
I think the most impressive thing about The Beatles as a musical group is how much they accomplished. In just 10 years, they created so much. The monstrous amount of material the created is staggering. And all while experimenting, re-inventing techniques and making them their own, growing, learning, changing and finding themselves within the music is just mind-blowing and inspiring. Works Cited Goodall, Howard, dir. "The Beatles. " Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats. Channel 4: 2004. Television. Scaruffi, Piero. "The Beatles. " www. Scaruffi. com. N. p. , 1999. Web. 29 Nov 2011. .
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