Don't Call Them Cute: The Beatles Celebrate 50th Anniversary, Reflect on Social Change Forever
Earlier this month, Brit rock 'n' roll's pretty boys celebrated the 50th anniversary of their universally lauded February 16, 1964 Ed Sullivan debut.
The Beatles might be reckoned as the most commercially successful rock band of all time--that is, if you consider The Rolling Stones a threat to the otherwise bubble-gum pop group that invaded television sets around the country--and yet, they were considered to be quite the vulgar bunch.
At a recent lunch with my father, Myron Holubiak, we debated the status of The Beatles--particularly from the perspective of his Baby Boomer generation--and how exactly they changed the American music landscape forever.
Alas, this may not have been as meteoric and unthreatening as one may imagine.
Yes, it's true, The Beatles impacted the social infrastructure of the United States with raucous, cacophonous rock standards like "Twist and Shout" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
While we may consider these pop hits as sophomoric nostalgia for a generation much older, The Beatles weren't as "cute" as one may think.
Just because these songs didn't feature 808 bass drops and sexual celebration, lyrics like "I want to hold your hand" were as subversive as could be in a time of big band monopolies. These songs, including the iconic album Meet the Beatles debuted at No. 1 on Billboard for 11 weeks.
And that really pissed some parents off...
The Beatles didn't pander to a larger audience--granted they may have had a knack for moving a teenage demographic. Music writers like Alan Rinzler dismissed the band as "electrically amplified to a plaster-crumbling, glass-shattering pitch [that was] loud, fast, and furious, totally uninfluenced by some of the more sophisticated elements."
So, while we may consider The Beatles as a relic of mainstream history, they weren't as adorable as one would argue.
In fact, they challenged an entire generation of listeners, who were consumed by chart-toppers from artists like Bobby Vinton and his unmoving "There! I've Said It Again," and brought music to the foreground with racy musical emulations of sexual climax (trust me, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was brought back to sex in some of the most inane ways possible).
No, don't call them cute.