The Beatles Are The Best - Round II

The Flying Dutchman started a poll about whether or not the Beatles were the best musical entity the world has ever produced.

There appeared to be a sizable group (including myself) that felt the issue was being obscured by the use of “ever”. How do you compare the Beatles and Beethoven?

So to focus the question, I’m starting a second poll.

“Do you regard the Beatles as the best musical entity the world has produced in the last hundred years with regard to originality, innovation, melody, broadness of style, and downright enjoyability?”

Using those criteria, I’d probably still have to go with Louis Armstrong. If it’s limited to rock/pop, though, The Beatles would have my vote.

This is how I feel, though I might not go with Louis, I think someone in the early to mid Jazz field would take it. Louis, or Dizzy, maybe even Miles (maybe), I would need to think about it a bit more. But Rock/Pop only, without question the Beatles get the prize.

No, for the same reasons I stated in the other thread. I wouldn’t give them the best of their era or even the best pop artists either. Iconic and influential, sure, but that isn’t the same as best.

God, no. The Rolling Stones are much better musically, and many other artists (most notably Jimi Hendrix) did more to bring rock elements into the realm of serious music. The Beatles are most notable for bringing elements of show tunes into rock, and that’s not exactly a substitute.

This is, of course, just limiting ourselves to rock music and the like. The Beatles really don’t compare with Duke Ellington or Miles Davis in terms of truly staggering musical accomplishment. Gershwin probably owns their collective Liverpudlian ass as well, but I’m not an expert.

I like a few Beatles songs (I have two on my iPod), but on the whole, they are very far down on the list of musical acts I would intentionally listen to. I find many of their songs to be bland and boring. I understand that they were very influential, but as this is an inherently subjective poll, I feel good about basing my no answer entirely on my own taste in music.

That’s the most bizarre statement about the Beatles I’ve ever read. I grew up on show tunes, and the Beatles had nothing to do with them (other than one song, which was a great ballad that happened to be in a show).

And if weren’t for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones would just have been another unrecorded British blues band. They are directly responsible for the Stones getting a record contract (both by showing that British groups could make money and because George Harrison recommended them to an executive at Decca who had never heard of that at that point).

The enjoyability is what got me to vote for them. I just watched their first US concert that’s a free stream on iTunes, and “them mop tops” were having a blast. I can’t imagine Gershwin or Davis (or even Bach) grinning from ear-to-ear as they performed. Or the crowd dancing and singing along.

Ok, bring on those “I’ll have you know I was dancing to Miles Davis in the mosh pit of a Harlem nightclub in '49…” comments… sigh.

I voted “yes.” The Beatles aren’t actually even my favorite band, at least in terms of who I listen to most often, but I can’t really see anyone else who would come close to contesting “best artist of the past century.” In every conceivable category (songwriting skill, inherent talent, ambition, success in achieving said ambition, diversity of style, influence on subsequent artists, influence on popular culture, even sales), they are either clearly #1 or at least in the running. There simply has never been quite a phenomenon like the Beatles, and likely never will be again.

Ditto. I have very few Beatles songs on my iPod. But I don’t need them on my iPod. I know those songs by heart. Downside: I’m sick of many of those songs. But that’s the price of greatness.

I don’t really see how the revised question makes any more sense. Even within the hundred year period, we’re still comparing the Beatles to - as other posters have noted - John Coltraine, Gershwin, Sinatra, etc…

Insofar as it’s a question that can be answered, the question is no. The Beatles are, of course, wonderful for what they were. But they were a product of their time and their revered status has to be looked at in that context, as a combination of a number of elements. When you look at the group under a magnifying glass, there’s some musical act that does pretty much everything better than they did.

Doesn’t mean that they weren’t great, but I don’t know that “the best” is really a designation that really makes sense, and it is, it isn’t them.

Maybe, but nobody did everything better than them. When appraising the Beatles, you need to take into account the ridiculous breadth of their talent. They’re the only artist I can think of whose output is still blowing people’s minds 50 years later - in the sense that stuff they did is still revolutionary today. You still see people go nuts over techniques like backwards guitar or deft remixing and sampling, and the Beatles were doing all that shit in 1966.

Maybe if you add George Martin to the poll I’d be willing to consider it. Otherwise no.

It’s all about a time and a place and everything happening just right…The Beatles were/are a musical Perfect Storm. The chances of any other artist ever hitting the scene and having so much impact are slim and none. Naysayers can rant all they want about their influence, legacy and overhyped popularity, but it all boils down to simple jealousy. Face it, the Boomers had The Beatles, and later generations had to settle for something just a little bit less.


Then Gershwin.

Then Sondheim.

Then the Beatles.

The answer is still no - right up there with my favourites (and therefore the acts I think are the “best”) but not quite number one.

I find arguments for the Beatles being “not that great” and “overrated” to be based on ignorance at best.

But even I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were the best in the last 100 years. They were highly innovative and influential, but this is the same century that featured Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring!

The Beatles allowed rock to be intellectual–they were the initial template for many in their wake–but being “the best” is so broad a statement that I’d caution against anyone bearing the title.

Well, I think you topped me there for bizarre statements about the Beatles. The Stones were and have been an incredible group. To imagine that they owe it to the Beatles is laughable.

When I listen to SPLhCB, I hear something that belonged in a vaudeville review. If anyone else released it, it would have been a novelty record. This goes for much of their later output. They spent about four years teetering on the brink of self-parody before they mercifully folded up shop.

You are in fact exposing your own ignorance here. The Beatles did not allow rock to be intellectual. That niche space was occupied by Bob Dylan.

Hank Williams.

Who would never have become a rock performer in the first place if not for the influence of the Beatles. Therefore the Beatles allowed Dylan to bring his intellectualism to the rock arena.