Are The Beatles overrated?

September 7, 2009


A framed handwritten report card from 1950 on the wall of Mendips, John Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool, states:

“John has worked quite well this term. His oral work is very good, his written work is good, but he chatters far too much.”

Lennon, born in 1940, had been living on Menlove Avenue with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George for five years when that report was issued.

In retrospect, the remarks may have hinted at Lennon’s later prolific songwriting talents.

Despite his aunt’s academic encouragements, Lennon left Liverpool’s Quarry Bank High School in 1957 without qualifications, but with the foundations of his musical career established in his skiffle group the Quarry Men.

He met Paul McCartney, who lived not far away at 20 Forthlin Road in 1957, and the two turned their talents to composing songs. The rest is history, as they say.Forthlin Road, Liverpool, Paul McCartney's childhood home.

Their band, The Beatles, which has sold more than 600 million albums worldwide, went on to become arguably the world’s most successful pop band.

On Wednesday, Apple and EMI will release digitally re-mastered versions of The Beatles’ UK studio albums. Simultaneously, a Beatles computer game will go on sale.

The Beatles broke up in 1969. Neil McCormick of the Daily Telegraph refers to their original albums as a “holy grail, the font of pop culture, when four incredibly talented individuals experienced a kind of collective, accelerated musical growth that untapped all the latent potential of pop.”

Do you think The Beatles are worth the bother or are they overrated?


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If you were there in the 60′s watching on Ed Sullivan it was majic. Their talent individually and collectively
would be almost impossible to reproduce today without egos and agents breaking them apart. I can’t tell you how much they affected my total character beyond the music. Fashion, politics,relationships, the world became
interconnected in as much a way as the internet has achieved but in a much more personal way. If you don’t
quite get it because you weren’t there all the same components still work and hold true. Just remember, all you need is love and baby,you’re arich man too.
Groooovey Babeee!

No offense to the naysayers here but if timing is everything you can’t compare Hendrix, Skynard, Springsteen. Only Dylan and the Stones were on the Beatles heels. As far as 2 minute songs go that was to fit the radio format in the day. But this same group put out ‘I am the Walrus’which blew everything written before it away.If you think diffently you’re either lying to yourself or out of your fricken mind.
This isn’t to take away from anything before or since but to put things in prospective we can all thank the Beatles for a generation of music unmatched that may never have been without them. By the way, I think some of the best music and worst music is being written today.
Not much different than the Beatles era as well, so I’d have to say music is evolving quite nicely.

They are absolutely overrated, just like most other bands hyped as “best ever.”

Crediting them for influencing other bands and for sparking new things in music is crediting them for one thing: being born before other bands. That’s it. So what if band A was influenced by them? What if band A was around BEFORE The Beatles? Then the argument is meaningless.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Thank God someone said it.

Posted by Totally | Report as abusive

I am quite sure that if this question were posed to any of the musicians in the bands which have been comparitively mentioned in the previous posts, the answer would certainly be, “No, the Beatles are not over rated”. In addition, I would bet they would also add, “Thank you Beatles for the influence and the inspiration”.

Posted by George Marks | Report as abusive

Are you kidding? They were great, certainly not over rated. As were (and still are) the Moody Blues – their “Days of Future Passed” may well have influenced some of the Beatles work. Two fantastic bands.

Posted by Barbara Richards | Report as abusive

yes, they are overrated

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

While you certainly cannot deny the colossal success of The Beatles, nor the fact that they inevitably opened the doors for countless other quality acts to gain attention, I still think that they were overrated in terms of musical prowess. In my opinion, The Beatles: overrated. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, the most underrated band: Eric Burdon and the Animals.

Posted by Rider McGinn | Report as abusive

The Stone Roses / Oasis / The Arctic Monkeys are the ones overrated because today, the kids aren’t all right anymore. Any music poll in the last decade or so would’ve listed one of these “wannbes” as the best ever band. Rubbish. The Beatles are.

Posted by Wyatt Wingfoot | Report as abusive

Yep, they’re over-rated and I’m tired of hearing about them.

Posted by Doug Ramsey | Report as abusive

The Beatles collective genius, (as in all truly great composers) is in their innovative sense of harmonic flow and melody. They changed the structural landscape of popular song construction.

Posted by Dr. Dave | Report as abusive

Probably not, but I do wish Macca would gracefully retire. All the years of adulation have gone to his head (now I’m Wordsworth, now I’m Mozart). John and George must be turning in their graves.

Classic FM have a lot to answer for.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

Yes they are totally overrated. The Beatles were great at writing a good melody and appropriating other musical genres. It’s always surprises me how Beatles fans very rarely listen to what influenced the Beatles, it’s as if rock and roll started and ended with the Beatles. Is it not time to for us move on as there is so much music out there to be discovered. Go and listen to Fela Kuti, Nusrat Ali Khan or Rachid Taha, the Beatles would have wanted you to.

Posted by John Carruthers | Report as abusive

We knew they were great, But never truly realised how great. Like some folks I do not play their music much. I dont need to. It is because it is in my head forever.

Posted by tim | Report as abusive

I agree with the person who gave props to George Martin.

But no question, the Beatles were brilliant. Whether they were more or less brilliant than some other influential, seminal and extremely talented band is arguable, but I do know that they were influential not just to popular music and culture, but also to alternative music and subculture.

While their early songs mastered pop perfection, it is their later, stranger songs which ultimately served to inspire so many of my favourite quote-unquote “alternative” artists such as the Throwing Muses and the Breeders, Veruca Salt, et al.

That a group of four people (well, five if you count Martin, which I do) to have had so few missteps considering the size of their oevre, would suggest that when talented artists get together and have that ineffable chemistry, combined with hard work and dedication, and you have the makings of a legend like the Beatles. They became more than the sum of their individual parts.

No way!! Right Place, Right time, right goup. When will the next Beatles come along? We’re going on 50 years! U2′s the only group that comes close.

Posted by Dave Flaat | Report as abusive

No. The Beatles changed music forever.

If you want to look at an OVERRATED band, take a long, hard look at U2. They haven’t made a good album in 15 years and their lead singer is an idiot. :)

Posted by NoWai | Report as abusive

Yes, the music itself is overrated!

Posted by Bhavishya Goel | Report as abusive

I lived in the far east. Hardly spoke english in my teenage years. Grew up with the music of the likes of Michael Jackson,U2, Tears for Fears etc in the 80′s loves mainstream music but when i bumped into a song called Eleanor Rigby it changed everything. This is my personal experience of Beatles’ song. Its not nostalgia, i didnt grow up with them. Its the music itself, its like a bug that bit me and infected me for life…for me they are not overrated…

Posted by sff090909 | Report as abusive

The Beatles are not overrated. Their influence on songwriting, eclectic arrangements, both vocal and instrumental infulenced almost everything that came after it. I will note that perhaps the Beatles may have been nothing more than a very good bar band had George Martin not been on the scene.The Beatles were good musicians, bt Martin added the extra quality that made them great. They also had the luxury of being ridiculously famous to the point that they could have recorded themselves burping in harmony and they would have sold a million copies.

Posted by phil | Report as abusive

If one is not educated about rock music history, then they are entitled to appreciating The Beatles. Likewise, anyone with a sense of knowledge knows that The Beatles were not as inventive as the “critics” say. Really just a bunch of hippie backwash that has dragged on for too long.

The Beatles didn’t change music at all. They changed marketing, and made pop/rock music a money-making phenomena. If anything, all of their credit should be directed towards George Martin.

Posted by West Archer | Report as abusive

You need to establish the criteria by which they are to be judged-and remember they did all their stuff as pioneers 40+ yrs ago-its easy to criticise them-they were by no means perfect-but if we are to judge them by comparison then lets have some names of those who equal or exceed them-which act of today will still have appeal for kids in 2049! johnpaulgeorgeringo ROCK ON

Posted by tim colchester | Report as abusive

No they are not over rated. Just look and listen to today’s talent…the most of it has an odor.

The Beatles were the real deal!

Posted by i, robert | Report as abusive

Way overated. The hippies killed the Beatles for me. In the 80′s when all the flower children started managing grocery stores/laundrymats/restaurants etc. they piped in their beloved Beatles. They are the soundtrack to the mundane. They score the purchasing of jelly.

Great art hangs in museums. The Beatles music is the equivilant to the “horse painting” that adornes the lobby of lesser hotel chains everywhere. Maybe once they were inspiring and artistic. Now they soundtrack my digestive process at restaurants. boring.

Posted by Buzz | Report as abusive

Pioneers? Hah! Hardly, my friend. They continued to write short pop ditties while their contemporaries were trying to record long compositions. They are number 1 in every critic’s list because they are worth a lot of money and people care to read about them because they have never grown up to real rock music. As for the rest of us, we’ll have to endure this second coming for another 20 years {sigh}.

Posted by West Archer | Report as abusive

I was a big fan when I was young. The Beatles could do no wrong. Now I look back I think they’re work is patchy. If you have any doubts of how good they could be, crank up ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and the raw rock n’ roll power of that track is still up there with the all time greats. Their ‘ yeah yeah yeah’ days grate a bit but for me the Beatles would have definitely silenced the doubters if they’d have got off that roof in ’69 and gone on tour with Billy Preston on keyboards. Sadly somebody didn’t want to do it and now we’ll never know just how good they were.

Posted by Roy Brassey | Report as abusive

The beatles are of course overrated. Their tunes are nice melodic pop tunes which deserve appreciation however what lets them down is their lyrical content. Its just not inspiring or clever. Just listen to any track by Dylan.

Posted by chris m | Report as abusive


I have never heard The Beach Boys played on any classic rock stations only oldies stations but my classic rock station plays a lot of Beatles. Infact a 48 year old DJ who is a huge Beatles fan has hosted a 2 hour Sunday morning radio show,Breakfast With The Beatles for 7 years now.

Even The Beatles early music had a much harder electric guitar sound than The Beach Boys and all of The Beach Boys radio hits were beach surfing music.

And on a Bob Dylan fan site Expecting Rain posted last year nobody on there liked The Beach Boys except 1 person,and most said they never liked The Rolling Stones that much either,but many said they think The Beatles were the most,innovative,creative,and prolific band ever and that it is amazing how much great music of all different styles they wrote and played,and recorded in just an 8 year recording career.

Posted by THE_BEATLES_WERE_BRILLIANT_&_COOL! | Report as abusive

Customer Reviews
Beatles Recording Sessions

‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next › Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:

By John Moulis

(Australia) – See all my reviews

This review is from: The Beatles: Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970 (Paperback)

Anybody with even a passing interest in The Beatles must have this book. Set out in a diary format it gives details of all recording sessions by the group. Sometimes it gets fairly technical with details about recording equipment, overdubs, etc but it is still essential information. One criticism, if you can call it that – most Beatles songs have gained legendary status and it can be quite disconcerting at times to have them clinically dissected in this fashion. But that is a small criticism. The fact that the book is apparently out of print is deplorable. It would be good if it were issued free whenever anybody buys their first Beatles CD, it is that important. It isn’t a book, it’s a rite of passage.

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

Beatles Recording Facts, Secrets, Gossip, Timeline, Trivia!, December 3, 2001
By First Things

First “captainreflection” (Burbank, CA United States) – See all my reviews

I am simply dumbfounded that this book has gone out of print. There is simply no other source for the information contained in this book, and it is consistently fascinating, entertaining and enlightening. In view of the never-ending interest in The Beatles CDs, and the fascination with how the band was able to make such huge strides forward in the evolution and revolution of pop and rock music, not to mention our popular culture in general, it is amazing that this book even exists in the first place as a miraculous wellspring of information. It contains virtually everything you would ever want to know about how all of the Beatles songs were recorded, from many different perspectives including producer George Martin, engineer Geoff Emerick, the Beatles crew members, and anyone and everyone who was present. You will see the exact sequence of events as song ideas turned to demos, demos to masters, overdubs, special effects, recording accidents, mixes and mastering. You will see how albums took shape, and songs from one period ended up on albums from another period. Amazing facts abound…how about the fact that in the entire recording history of The Beatles, drummer Ringo Starr never made a musical mistake which caused the tape machines to stop rolling. Think about it…a perfect record of studio drumming! With all the complexity and variety of the music, not to mention 16-20 hour recording sessions for months on end, with guitars hitting wrong notes, voices cracking, piano note bloopers etc. A truly amazing feat! As the owner of both a Hardcover copy and a Softcover copy of this book, I suddenly realize that I am far richer than I thought! Find this book, read it, study it, and treasure it!

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Behind the Creative Genius of a Groundbreaking Band, March 4, 1999
By A Customer

This review is from: The Beatles: Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970 (Paperback)

This is the real thing. Instead of concentrating on third-hand gossip and rumors or the trivialities of a group that was much more humble than its devotees, Mark Lewisohn delves into the actual music of the Beatles. I loved the accounts of the Fab Four recording “A Day in the Life,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” This amazingly rich book gives detailed accounts of how the Beatles, AS A GROUP, came up with the sounds that broke down the barriers of pop music. As a musician, I found Mark Lewisohn’s portrayal of the Beatles genius (especially that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney) to be completely thorough and accurate, as well as insightful. If you are to buy any one Beatles book, buy this one!

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

An excellent resource for those who care how the Beatles made magic, August 19, 2005

By Danno (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

Some Beatles books are gossipy, and others feature questionable armchair critical analyses of their music. Lewisohn takes a totally different approach. Working with the original Abbey Road studio logs, he’s created a day-by-day record of what the Beatles were doing in Abbey Road studios, who played what instruments, and how long it took them to record and write their songs.

I own a first edition of this book and have used it ever since I bought a used copy sometime in the early 1990s. I reread it many times that summer, and that somewhat battered, oversized copy still sits on my shelf. It’s a book I returned to when I set up a mini home recording studio, and returned to yet again when I was learning how to mix my sounds. Although this is not a “how-to” book, you can learn an awful lot about good recording and mixing technique by carefully reading it.

Furthermore, Lewisohn packed his text with surprises. I, for one, was shocked to learn how primitive Abbey Road’s technology was, even by the standards of a British studio in the 1960s. I was also surprised to learn why the mono and stereo mixes of the Beatles’ music often sounded so different from one another even though they were mixed from the same masters. Also, it’s amazing to learn just how quickly some seemingly complex tracks were put together, while some seemingly simple songs took far more work. As a side benefit, Lewisohn’s comprehensive notes probably knocked the wind out of more than one bootlegger trying to pass off BBC radio performances as lost studio recordings of Beatle tracks! Throughout, there are many, many excellent photos – many of which have not been reproduced elsewhere. Just when you think Lewisohn’s run out of goodies, there’s a rare interview with Paul McCartney that touches on the songwriting process.

I can’t rate this as a five star book although I’d like to. As good as Lewisohn is, there are a lot of minor details here that are misleading or just plain wrong. Lewisohn can’t seem to tell phasing from flanging (two very different techniques to create swirling electric guitar sounds). He also prints quotes from studio musicians without elaboration, leading me to believe he has a weak grasp on performance and theory. For example, one horn player describes a McCartney song as being “between the cracks” of two different keys; the song in question actually seems to have been recorded slightly flat and sped up to normal pitch upon playback, but we have no way of knowing what the horn player actually meant without more information. The average reader might walk away thinking that the song used two different keys, unless he also knew that the song was in a single key. I’m surprised an editor didn’t catch this stuff.

If you’re a Beatles fan who could care less about their personal lives, but would love to learn more about how they created their studio albums – this book is for you. If you’re interested in home recording, you’ll learn lots of tidbits here too. Lewisohn deserves a lot of credit for creating this resource, and I wish that it weren’t such a difficult book to find.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Invaluable and Insightful-Here, There, and Everywhere, June 9, 1999
By Tim Steinert

( (Portland, Oregon) – See all my reviews

This review is from: The Beatles: Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970 (Paperback)
This book has been a constant source for Beatles trivia- not to mention a roaring good read! I read through it 3 or 4 times a year. As a musician myself, I find its insights into the Beatles “what the hell- let’s try it!” mentality refreshing (in a time where the music business has become stiflingly boring and so much music is trite and disposable). Unfortunately, my cat had a great love for the book as well-especially page 91 and 92, so now I’m screwed!! Please reprint this book!!!

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

A must-have for musician Beatlemaniacs, February 13, 2005
By twinsongsun “twinsongsun” (New England, USA) – See all my reviews

This review is from: The Beatles: Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Sessions

I love The Beatles records and have since my Dad purchased “Meet the Beatles” in 1966. The first records I bought on my own, as soon as I had a paper route and spending money, were The Beatles’ LPs, in order of American release. I even knew the exact running time of every Beatles song and couldn’t imagine that there were people in the world who didn’t know every Beatles song. If you’re like me, the revelation of the details of the recording of every Beatles track, as detailed in this book, will be a thrill to pore over.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Beatles recording history, January 1, 2001
By RAS (Vancouver Canada) – See all my reviews

I walked into my university bookstore years ago during a book sale and I spotted this book… “Some Beatle garbage” I said to myself. Then I found myself buying the book…!
Then I found myself buying all the Beatles CD’s so I could listen to the music that was described in the book…

I think the Beatles ARE BRILLIANT and I despair what to think my life would have been without the Beatles!! I just spent the whole day of New Year’s Eve listening to various Beatle cds and other sources!! This is a great book! and it’s not being published…! :(

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Must Read for any Beatle Fan, January 29, 1999
By A Customer

This review is from: The Beatles: Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970 (Paperback)
By far, the most complete and technically articulate of any of the Beatle’s books in print. Lewisohn crafts a marvelously detailed chronological sequence of all of the Beatles’ sessions from their debut meeting with George Martin to the last days of “Let It Be”. The result is a perfect blend of both the artistic and often overlooked technical genius of both the Beatles and the various studio engineers that made it all happen.
If (like me) you have ever wondered why “Rain” sounds raised an octave, just how Mr. Martin managed to meld two different songs in “Strawberry Fields”, or what the heck instrument they used for the its intro, you will not be dissappointed in this reference.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
one of the best Beatles books, October 13, 1998
By A Customer

Painstakingly researched, beautifully written, and containing many good photographs, this is surely one of the best books on the Beatles ever written. The creation of the Beatles’ enduring body of work is lovingly described. A must for all recording buffs or Beatles fans – a great reference tome, fun for browsing, and best when read cover-to-cover with obsessive delight. The facts herein speak for themselves.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
AMAZING, April 14, 2005
By D. Thomas “” (NY) – See all my reviews

This review is from: The Beatles: Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970 (Paperback)
This book is a must for any Beatle-fan, or anyone working in a studio who knows the Beatles’ music. The book is a cornucopia of information on how the Beatles’ music was created in the studio. Sit down with the book and the CDs, and listen to each song as your read Lewisohn’s description of the recording session. It’s like being there!

Beatles Gear, Revised Edition by Andy Babiuk (Paperback – October 1, 2002)
60 Reviews
5 star: (54)
4 star: (6)

Posted by THE_BEATLES_WERE_BRILLIANT_&_COOL! | Report as abusive

Also I read an online interview around 2002 with George Martin where he says that even though he has worked with many other music artists he still has never known or worked with anyone as brilliant as The Beatles! And he said on a radio show on The Beatles I once heard the very true and obvious that, “John Lennon and Paul McCartney were incredibly talented people and both were extraordinarily talented song writers and great singers.

Posted by THE_BEATLES_WERE_BRILLIANT_&_COOL! | Report as abusive

Overrated? Certainly NOT. My kids were born between 1991 to 1999 and all of them and their friends love the Beatles. Definitely, I can’t tell them what to like or not. It’s a truth nobody can deny. The question, how can a very distant past still kicking very hard and alive soundly if not for whatever their worth? Whenever we have a big family gathering, the Beatles becomes our (grand parents, parents, kids) common denominator! We compete one another in our knowledge about the Beatles’s songs and sing their songs until we’re out of our breath. When the gathering is over, we bring home our happy feeling and the widest grin. The gathering becomes a treasured memory while looking forward for a reason to have another one in the near future. Lastly, mind you… we’re in Indonesia, very far away from the cradle of Western Civilization. Thus, overrated? I’d like the idea that perhaps the Beatles is even bigger than “overrated.”

Posted by moly69x | Report as abusive