Beatlemania: cultural phenomenon or an over-hyped boy band?

Lisa Norman | Friday, 10 April 2009

Beatlemania: cultural phenomenon or an over-hyped boy band?

Over 40 years have passed since the Fab Four assaulted the music industry with their pop-rock beats. Yet, after all this time, their loyal following has reigned supreme, along with a new generation of fans eager to get their paws on the remastered collection.

The road to the Beatles' success has been paved with many obstacles; Lennon's "we're more famous than Jesus" comment was followed by his murder, and with rumours of Paul's death have littered their path. Despite everything, their fame, cultural phenomenon and fanbase has never faltered.

On Tuesday 7th April 2009, The Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd and EMI Music announced that their entire collection would be available remastered on 9th September 2009. The CDs will be released with liner notes and photos with special collectors editions in mono and stereo. Coinciding with the launch of The Beatles: Rock Band video game, this sees Beatlemania opening up to a whole new generation and genre.

Never too far from the rumour mill, it has been suggested that the release date seems to relate to the track 'One After 909', or to (in some way) echo Lennon's spoken fondness of the number nine. Though record labels tirelessly introduce wannabe stars every week with their poor cover tracks, it is easy to see that there has never been another musical phenomenon like the Beatles. But why?

Both commercially successful with high critical acclaim, the Liverpudlian foursome have sold over one billion records across the world. Changing their style constantly but keeping their mass appeal, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison took the world by storm in their heyday.

Energetic, good looking and fantastic individual personas made them instantly likeable and able to reach a mass audience. To women they were typical boy-next-door types, accessible and yet out of their reach. An early version of the boy band, they oozed personality in every performance, bouncing a bright and colourful performance from the black and white TV sets in living rooms across the world.

They were the first boy band to write their own songs and play their own instruments, setting the standard for the industry that followed. They were not just a band but a global brand, encompassing everything great about British music in the 1960s, mesmerising the world and maintaining cultural dominance.

The Beatles brought with them mass hysteria and an onslaught of fanatics. Constantly striving to produce new sounds, their work paid off as generation upon generation has been captured by Beatlemania. They were the first band to musically do it all - they were in the right place at the right time. Though many see them as over-hyped, others see them as musical legends who made the industry what it is today.

So, can anyone ever come close to dominating Beatlemania? Oasis confessed many inspirations came from Beatles tracks such as 'I Am The Walrus', but with a different attitude and style they took the industry in a different way. The '90s also introduced Take That to the baying mobs and with a click of the fingers took them away again.

One of the biggest comebacks in history ensued recently, bringing yet another fab four back from the ashes and into the hearts of fans everywhere. Their path, too, was littered with grief over the loss of a band member. Though Robbie had not died, his loss shook the band until they separated in 1996.

The Beatles were not short of musical influences, leaning on inspiration from Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds was a favourite of McCartney's. It is thought that without this influence, Sgt Pepper would never have happened.

The path to boy band stardom has never been easy or short of controversy. There will never be another band like the Beatles, though some have, and are, coming close. While the world awaits the remastered releases, many hope that soon will be the age of the complete discography being available online.

It seems the Beatles are opening the doors to the masses, once more ambushing the digital world and hopefully taking a leap into the online music industry. Dhani Harrison recently stated that the remaining Beatles members are looking to create an online resource for fans to download their music. They expect it to be ready in the near future.

So, as we wait with baited breath for 9th September to arrive, just watch all those new pop hopefuls. They will cling on and use arguably the best band in the world as inspiration, but get nowhere close to their legacy. The pop industry has come a long way since the '60s, and there are four people to thank for that. To the Beatles, we salute you.