Beatles acclaim peak

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Henrik
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Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Henrik » Tue May 22, 2018 1:49 pm

I didn't want to destroy the Artists That Will Gain Acclaim Over Time topic, but the comments on The Beatles in that topic got me wondering if their acclaim is still peaking. If it isn't, when was the peak?

I think the acclaim for Sgt. Pepper peaked some 30-40 years ago. Same thing with their early years maybe. But for the band as a whole I'm not sure, except that the acclaim has been amazingly high all the years. If there is something of a decline, I don't think this is in comparison to other '60s artists, but that younger critics don't put the late '60s-early '70s on a pedestal like earlier generations of critics did.
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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby McJagger » Tue May 22, 2018 2:40 pm

My impression is that the estimation of Sgt. Pepper has declined while the estimation of The White Album has improved since their respective releases. I think the messiness of The White Album is appreciated more retrospectively, while the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper is now considered passe or even kitschy.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby jamieW » Tue May 22, 2018 3:51 pm

I think in a forum like ours The Beatles will always maintain their status. But I do think they will decline in status among younger critics and the public in general as other acts become more relevant to the music they grew up with and listen to. I'm old enough to remember when I'd see "greatest song" lists have standards like "Over the Rainbow." Then it became "of the rock era" (which they seem to start in 1955, even though it began much earlier); followed by "since the Beatles;" and now I've often seen "since the punk movement." There's no doubt in my mind that, if we do find a way to collectively keep AM active, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" will be #1 sooner rather than later. It's similar to Sight & Sound's greatest movie list each decade. It was "Battleship Potemkin." then "Citizen Kane" for the longest time; but with the last update, "Vertigo" became #1. It just seems that older music/movies retain their acclaim by historians, but modern critics and the general public are drawn more to those that are most relevant to their own personal experience.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Rob » Tue May 22, 2018 8:15 pm

jamieW wrote:It's similar to Sight & Sound's greatest movie list each decade. It was "Battleship Potemkin." then "Citizen Kane" for the longest time; but with the last update, "Vertigo" became #1. It just seems that older music/movies retain their acclaim by historians, but modern critics and the general public are drawn more to those that are most relevant to their own personal experience.


Not the best comparison. The first Sight & Sound poll actually had The Grapes of Wrath at #1, which faded only somewhat, never Battleship Potemkin. Citizen Kane has been extremely consistent (ending at #2 only during the last poll is hardly a major drop) and it didn't lose to a movie from a newer era, but one that is only 17 years younger. If a movie from the nouvelle vague period or later had won it might have more meaning.

Similarly, the status of at least The Beatles or Bob Dylan isn't likely to decrease any time soon, though other acts might.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby jamieW » Tue May 22, 2018 8:34 pm

Rob wrote:
jamieW wrote:It's similar to Sight & Sound's greatest movie list each decade. It was "Battleship Potemkin." then "Citizen Kane" for the longest time; but with the last update, "Vertigo" became #1. It just seems that older music/movies retain their acclaim by historians, but modern critics and the general public are drawn more to those that are most relevant to their own personal experience.


Not the best comparison. The first Sight & Sound poll actually had The Grapes of Wrath at #1, which faded only somewhat, never Battleship Potemkin. Citizen Kane has been extremely consistent (ending at #2 only during the last poll is hardly a major drop) and it didn't lose to a movie from a newer era, but one that is only 17 years younger. If a movie from the nouvelle vague period or later had won it might have more meaning.

Similarly, the status of at least The Beatles or Bob Dylan isn't likely to decrease any time soon, though other acts might.


Actually, now that I look back, "Bicycle Thieves" was the first winner, not "Battleship Potemkin" or "The Grapes of Wrath."

Also, I'll stand by my assessment. Saying the Beatles might not be considered the "greatest of all time" at some point by future generations doesn't mean that they'll plummet into obscurity, any more than "Citizen Kane" dropping to #2 behind "Vertigo," (a film nearly two decades younger) means that it still isn't considered a great film. "Vertigo" will fall from the top, as well someday, perhaps to a film from the period that you're referring to.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby prosecutorgodot » Tue May 22, 2018 9:06 pm

I agree with McJagger for the most part.

I think the Beatles have hit their peak already, and have been riding on a plateau ever since. I think that the Beatles will definitely continue their reign for a good 15-20 years, and then, only maybe, someone else will take their throne.

As to when they first hit their peak, I would say around the release of the greatest hits compilation 1, to when Cirque Du Soleil had its all-Beatles show. (Early to mid-2000s)

I don't know when the Beatles will fall, but I do believe it will happen. They can't possibly be #1 for the rest of eternity, can they?

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Jirin » Tue May 22, 2018 10:10 pm

It's more difficult to have a single act become as big as the Beatles now because everybody has more options.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Listyguy » Tue May 22, 2018 11:20 pm

If somebody were to dethrone the Beatles, who would it be? Radiohead? David Bowie? Nirvana? There aren't a lot of artists that are considerably younger than the Beatles that could theoretically take their place.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Jirin » Wed May 23, 2018 12:15 am

The acts that get really really critically acclaimed are the ones that are both critically successful and popularly successful. That's why I think it will be impossible to dethrone the Beatles. Not unless a few companies somehow get control of every music outlet again AND effectively stop piracy which seems nearly impossible.

It was a lot easier to get consensus before the Internet because there were so much fewer easily accessible options.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Rob » Wed May 23, 2018 8:49 am

jamieW wrote:
Rob wrote:
jamieW wrote:It's similar to Sight & Sound's greatest movie list each decade. It was "Battleship Potemkin." then "Citizen Kane" for the longest time; but with the last update, "Vertigo" became #1. It just seems that older music/movies retain their acclaim by historians, but modern critics and the general public are drawn more to those that are most relevant to their own personal experience.


Not the best comparison. The first Sight & Sound poll actually had The Grapes of Wrath at #1, which faded only somewhat, never Battleship Potemkin. Citizen Kane has been extremely consistent (ending at #2 only during the last poll is hardly a major drop) and it didn't lose to a movie from a newer era, but one that is only 17 years younger. If a movie from the nouvelle vague period or later had won it might have more meaning.

Similarly, the status of at least The Beatles or Bob Dylan isn't likely to decrease any time soon, though other acts might.


Actually, now that I look back, "Bicycle Thieves" was the first winner, not "Battleship Potemkin" or "The Grapes of Wrath."

Alright, my mistake. I mistook the one social conscious movie for the other.

Also, I'll stand by my assessment. Saying the Beatles might not be considered the "greatest of all time" at some point by future generations doesn't mean that they'll plummet into obscurity, any more than "Citizen Kane" dropping to #2 behind "Vertigo," (a film nearly two decades younger) means that it still isn't considered a great film. "Vertigo" will fall from the top, as well someday, perhaps to a film from the period that you're referring to.[/quote]

I don't know. I could just as easily see Citizen Kane get back to #1 next time again. It's status seems unchanged. The difference between #1 and #2 is arbitrary anyway. Sure, 2001: A Space Odyssey may pass it by, or The Godfather even, or whatever, but I think if something survived so long as Citizen Kane it's stature is rather safe. Sure, new generations find their own classics, but I think fighting for acclaim around the #1 is a long game. By the time an amazing movie from 2018 has become a certified classic, a new generation has already arrived. I think it will be harder to touch Kane or Vertigo, because they have proven their longevity and more has been said about their greatness. As goes with The Beatles, whose biggest competition for the throne is probably their contemporary, Bob Dylan.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby jamieW » Wed May 23, 2018 11:32 am

Rob wrote:I don't know. I could just as easily see Citizen Kane get back to #1 next time again. It's status seems unchanged. The difference between #1 and #2 is arbitrary anyway. Sure, 2001: A Space Odyssey may pass it by, or The Godfather even, or whatever, but I think if something survived so long as Citizen Kane it's stature is rather safe. Sure, new generations find their own classics, but I think fighting for acclaim around the #1 is a long game. By the time an amazing movie from 2018 has become a certified classic, a new generation has already arrived. I think it will be harder to touch Kane or Vertigo, because they have proven their longevity and more has been said about their greatness. As goes with The Beatles, whose biggest competition for the throne is probably their contemporary, Bob Dylan.


After giving this one a lot more thought last night, I'll have to concede this point for the exact same reason you gave: I, too, think there's a strong possibility that "Citizen Kane" could move back to #1 in the next S&S poll. There are just too many other possibilities to consider in the results of a single poll like this to assume that "Vertigo" dethroning Kane is due to some permanent trend. As you originally said, probably not the best comparison, in retrospect...

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Maschine_Man » Wed May 23, 2018 12:43 pm

Some things that have come up in my mind that might be relevant to this discussion:

- The technological advances that allowed Film and Music to become the dominant cultural force of the 20th century.
- What roll does printed media and advertising have with the obsession of ranking?
- Is there another leap in technology comparable to recorded images and audio?

- Will we start to compare music by genre? Because that seems more fair than the current system which is heavily biased towards certain acts and styles.
- Similarly, is it even fair to rank current artists against legacy acts?
- Could there be a movement to re-establish and re-analyse the impact of all the music that was produced in the 20th century? Would that even be possible now that so much content has been made?

- How does this compare to the fine art world?
- When I was young I read a history of the Mona Lisa and I realised how much of it's fame has been manufactured and that it took centuries to establish it as "The Greatest Painting". It befuddles me that people still flock to it in such numbers.
- Could an album or body of music go through a similar process? Are there musicians who have had a similar trajectories thanks to good advertising?

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby BleuPanda » Wed May 23, 2018 6:05 pm

Well, there's always the obvious cycle that something referred to as the 'greatest X' will end up having more people check it out, and then many will try to understand the medium through the lens of that artist or work. And because so many people base their views of a medium through that 'greatest' work, it kind of reinforces itself. And then when you get consensus polls such as the AM list, you have to deal with the fact that pretty much everyone making a music list knows pretty much the full Beatles catalog, and there are other bands who might reasonably claim the title who don't have a cultural reinforcement.

Same way I think a lot of the 'great novels' are things we read in high school; of course they'll top lists of the greatest books when nearly everyone is able to vote for them! Introductory works almost always have an advantage; they form the foundation of how we interpret future art. Sadly, this means a constant centering on certain works. So it's not so much that The Beatles is the greatest band as much as they are almost always among someone's 'first' bands once they start investing in music as an art.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Live in Phoenix » Wed May 23, 2018 11:05 pm

I’d say that ‘60s acclaim in general has passed its absolute peak, and that it peaked sometime before 2003 (when Rolling Stone listed its top 500 albums, and was criticized for being centered around classic rock). Hell, I remember Spin's 1995 album guide being pretty hostile to classic rock; in a way, even if other people would be less hostile, it symbolized a kind of shift in taste. Now, I voted the Beatles #1 in our artist poll (and Spin voted them #1 band), and to me they seem like a mythically perfect group. But like with Citizen Kane, their #1 spot might end not with a bang (some bold new artistic work or group that flattens everything that came before it), but with a flutter, a shrug, a shift in taste. Something not even new, but newer, wins out. I’ve seen The Godfather I and/or II at the top spot. ‘70s movies just aren’t like ’40s movies, never mind that a whole ton of movies have come out since the ‘70s. (Tokyo Story won the director’s poll, so it was like taste moved on one whole decade, which I guess is fast for a medium whose critics are more prone to high-brow pretension.)

I remember a forum member saying something like, “Someone’s going to have to explain the appeal of the Rolling Stones to me.” And I heard the same here about R.E.M. During, say, the ‘80s (plus the ‘90s with R.E.M.), no explanation would have been necessary. If you’re at the point of having to explain to someone a band’s appeal, there’s already a changing of the guard in the works, no matter how slow it takes. Maybe only so many teenagers today care that much about what Dylan or Hendrix got up to, or about the Beatles being on Sullivan, etc. A musician can go from being the center of the universe to being “influential” or “important” to rock history, and that influence can be seen as somewhat academic. The Beatles invented or re-invented a lot -- ‘50s rock and rollers changed norms, invented a lot, Woody Guthrie and Sinatra had concept albums, and where do those old guys appear on lists? The Beatles have lots of great songs? There’s been a lot of great music since then, too, and '70s-'10s music isn't quite like '60s music. So in other words, it's easy enough to picture people caring, but not #1 all-time caring, eventually.

If I’m right and the whole ‘60s eventually suffers a tad, then Dylan or the Stones wouldn’t be the heir, but maybe Bowie or Radiohead, even if it was many years from now. Personally, I noticed that classic rock overall has taken a hit in my songs list.

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Jirin » Thu May 24, 2018 12:33 pm

Here's the thing about The Beatles though. There will probably be fewer and fewer people who rank them as their absolute #1. But, I've met people who mostly listen to classical and jazz who also love The Beatles. I've met people who mostly listen to hip hop who love the Beatles. When parents expose their kids to the Beatles they take to them more often than any other older band. I've seen several times when people with very very different tastes are trying to agree what to play, and the Beatles are the one thing they can agree on. No other band has as broad an appeal across groups as the Beatles. And in our current musical climate with unprecedented ease of access to music, people are not targeting everyone, they are targeting specific demographics. I just don't see everyone liking one thing again in the age of the Internet, the 90s were probably the last chance.

If there is a chance, somebody who's currently a pop act with a massive audience probably has to become experimental and artistic without losing their pop appeal the same way the Beatles did.

The problem with ranking things by genre is that 1) It would cause near-genre albums to be consistently underrated for being 'Not a good representation of the genre' and 2) A lot of people will disagree how to group things.

I want no part of the arguments of "What, why aren't the Carbon Fibers on the Bluecore list?!" "WHAT?! Carbon Fibers #1? THEY'RE NOT EVEN BLUECORE!!!"

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Live in Phoenix » Thu May 24, 2018 2:47 pm

That's true, the Beatles have enjoyed a consensus that most acts don't know anything about. A lot of acts would fall under, "Well, if you're a fan of _____ music." They've sold over twice as much in the U.S. as Michael Jackson; and the #2 selling act, Garth Brooks :-|, I think would still fall under, "Well, if you're a fan of country music."

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby prosecutorgodot » Fri May 25, 2018 5:19 am

I was too conservative to say 15-20 years... even in 50 years, the Beatles will still have cultural relevance. But how about 100 years? 500 years? Unfortunately, we won't be around to see it, but I doubt the Beatles will be as culturally relevant in the 22nd century. Those people will no doubt have new heroes.

In terms of current artists and the nearer future, Radiohead or Kanye West have more potential to beat the Beatles than Dylan.

I do concede that music writers will continue to place the Beatles at/near the top, so that definitely affects the lists of ordinary people. Jirin sounds right with the "not as many people place Beatles at #1, but still place them near #1." Maybe my personal ideology of change is warping my thoughts on this issue. I also keep comparing the Beatles to classical music, which I know is not so good since classical music wasn't recorded...

Good discussion!

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Re: Beatles acclaim peak

Postby Romain » Fri May 25, 2018 7:05 am

Even if the Beatles are not my n°1, I perfectly understand why they are first... and I personnaly do not see any serious competitor.

Everyone (except Moonbeam :-) ) loves the Beatles, they affect all segments of the population unlike other great artists. Bowie, Prince, Radiohead are all very far behind in terms of penetration of daily life of the entire population.


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