Friday, December 31, 2010

Dissecting Sgt. Pepper

The Beatles are the world's most overrated band. Everyone thinks they are the best band ever, and they are all wrong.

Now, I can't say I hate the Beatles or their music. They aren't bad, by any stretch. They are all proficient (and *only* proficient) at their instruments, both McCartney and especially Lennon are good singers, they don't have many terrible albums, or many ball-tearingly bad songs. Their first album is really good as well (in my opinion their best, but I know I'm nearly alone here). In two words, they can be described as 'good' and 'consistent'.

But I am sick of people raving about them, and one album in particular; Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band. Look what people say about it on :

  • It is a superbly written, composed, performed and produced work of art, and the only possible ground for disliking it is sheer envy of the Beatles' talents.
  • Sgt. Pepper really is as close to perfection as music can come, it is one of maybe two or three albums that, if given the chance, I would not change a single thing. The music is perfect, the lyrics are perfect, the vocals are perfect, the production is perfect, every single note is perfect.
  • One of the most groundbreaking, revolutionary and inarguably greatest albums of all time.
  • An influential masterpiece that shaped cultures & social structures from then on and one of, if not the greatest record, ever made from the four most important musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Completely ludicrous.

Not this guy.

On the same site, on which there are over 13,000 ratings of this album, it is rated the #8th best album of all time, with only the usual high-rating affair above it. (Dylan, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Velvet Underground, and of course, two Beatles albums in the top two spots, ugh).

I've now given this album five chances to wow me, and it has refused to do so. If possible, it gets worse each time, due to my good self hearing more superior music between each listen. So, because of a disagreement of opinions with someone about this album, I thought it wise to actually go through, listen to each song, listen to the album as a whole, and say what I thought of each song on this grossly overrated album. As such:

Sgt. Pepper - Good pop-rock song. I like Lennon's voice.

With a Little Help From My Friends - Good pop song.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds - Meh. Look at me, I'm talking about drugs!

Getting Better - Regular mid 60's pop psych song.

Fixing a Hole - Meh. Bland and not memorable at all.

She's Leaving Home - Jumbled, not catchy in the slightest.

Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite - A really bad song in every way.

Within You Without You - Good song, but it's less of a Beatles song and more of a random Indian one. Completely apes Indian music, and shows very well how globalisation works on a world scale, the West profiting off of Third World countries. (sorry, I did a class on this at uni)

When I'm Sixty Four - Silly inoffensive song. At least it's catchy.

Lovely Rita - Really bad lyrics.

Good Morning Good Morning - Another godawful song. A complete mess.

Sgt Pepper Reprise - Hendrix riffs! Finally something exciting.. at the end of the album.

A Day in the Life - I'm not going to complain about this song. It actually has some form of emotion (in a Beatles song!)

Quick comments to be sure, a few average to good songs, one relatively good one (A Day in the Life), and the two Sgt. Pepper songs showed some type of feeling. The rest don't fare as well.

You know what I think this is? Millions of people either grew up with this album (and the Beatles), or the Beatles were their first exposure to rock music, as it almost goes without saying that the Beatles are very easy to get into. This album *is* average, there are no two ways about it. Strip away the fact that it is the Beatles, that every one loves it, that it is considered the greatest album ever, and it is a regular mid 60's psych-pop album that was lucky enough to have great production and studio trickery improve it.

But wait, you cry! It's the first concept album! But it isn't a concept album, just a bunch of songs bookended by two similar sounding songs, with fades. And even if it were, Ray Charles, the Ventures, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie and most importantly Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention released concept albums before the Beatles.

Also! It's the first album with lyrics printed on the LP! And with extensive gatefolds and imagery and such! Bully for the Beatles. Useful from a marketing perspective, but otherwise, it's a useless fact that fans throw at you when you say you don't think that Sgt. Peppers is the best album ever, similar to how many of the reviews I scan from the above gushes of praises say that if you disagree with their rating, you are 'jealous of the Beatles talent', or 'are trying to be different'. No, your favourite album is fucking average, that's all.

I think I've summed up this album well, so I'll leave it at that. The Beatles are overrated, and nothing can change that (short of everyone realising it, hence making it less highly rated).

1 comment:

  1. I'd say it's below average.
    Average is an album with all the featured songs being "Average".
    This is below Average because only 60% of the songs are worth listening to.
    And even then...