It may not be as cool, but I am a proud member of the digital generation. (Of course, I support music in other ways, like writing columns and wasting half my pay- checks on concerts).
So when Apple announced last November that the Beatles would finally be joining the iTunes Store, I was more than a little underwhelmed. Are there really people who don’t already have the Beatles on their iPod? I thought everyone grew up with classic rock enthusiasts for parents, who had copies of Abbey Road and Revolver just waiting to be uploaded to the nearest computer. To me, paying money to listen to the Beatles, of all bands, is a com- pletely baffling experience.
Despite this, Apple launched a massive marketing campaign for the store addition — including front-page ads on the company’s site and prominent TV spots — because if any band is underrated, it’s clearly the Beatles. To my surprise, though, the gimmick worked: According to Apple, within the first week, more than 450,000 albums and two million individual tracks were sold on iTunes worldwide.
With such lucrative digital download sales, it’s peculiar that the Beatles’ company, Apple Corps., even waited. The Beatles were the last of the legends holding out on Steve Jobs (Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were previously apprehensive about the iTunes Store).
Their hesitation had more to do with finance than philosophy. According to a recent report from Reuters, Apple Corps. sealed a special licensing-type deal with Apple Inc. (confusing, I know) to get the Liverpool natives in the store. For the first time in the company’s history, Apple Inc. is paying the band directly, rather than the traditional royalty setup, through which artists take in around 20 to 25 percent of the total revenue.
Basically, the Fab Four are making bank. Again.
But perhaps there is no better measure of the Beatles’ influence on modern music — and no better reasons to ignore the Apple hoopla — than to take it from artists themselves. If you go to the iTunes front page, you’ll be confronted with a special playlist: “Your Favorite Artists, Their Favorite Beatles Songs.” Several modern musicians have picked their favorite tracks — complete with enlightening explanations.
Coldplay’s admiration for “Something” reflects the tuneful melodies they adapted from the band, while Ke$has explanation of her choice — the simple and undeniably fun “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — is perfectly astute; “It’s what pop music should be,” she suggests (she should listen to her own remarks).
Artists disagreed: Sia called “Blackbird” the best song ever written; Rascal Flatts called “Yesterday” the best song ever written; Mike Posner opts for “A Day in the Life.”
They’re all great, guys. Duh.
Trey Songz described “If I Fell” as “such a dope song,” explaining that: ““The harmonies are craaaazy!!” — clearly the most clever observation ever uttered about the Beatles.
And the teens love ‘em too! “Strawberry Fields Forever” apparently makes Selena Gomez “happy and sad at the same time,” while her boyfriend Justin Bieber claims that “Let It Be” has helped him “accept the hard times in life.”
B.o.B. is best of all: He says his “favorite song on Beatles Rock Band” is, hands down, “Paperback Writer.”
These futile observations are proof that — when an artist is as massively important as the Beatles — there comes a point when there is simply nothing interesting to say about them.
Everyone knows the Beatles and everyone always will. They’ve become engrained in nearly every aspect of our popular culture, infiltrating even our most treasured childhood memories. So I don’t need the Beatles on iTunes. I’m stuck with ‘em forever anyway.