Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Number 9?

Brian Leiter just linked to ultimate backwards countdown of Beatles tunes (here). I have to confess that I'm not a huge fan of The Beatles. Arguably, they're the most overrated band of all time. (Maybe that honor should really go to The Eagles. Things get tricky when you then toss into the mix Eric Clapton and Billy Joel. I'm treating one man bands as bands.) I'd hope that you'd agree that "Yellow Submarine" should not rank ahead of "Revolution 9" or any other song from The White Album. It certainly shouldn't have cracked the top 100. If you disagree with me on that smaller point, you certainly can't disagree with me on the larger point. What does it say about your precious Beatles if by your lights "Yellow Submarine" gets into their top 100, "Octopus's Garden" into their top 40, and "Strawberry Fields" into their top 10!?! I hope you're not a fan! Anyway, if you want to save The Beatles from the accusation that nearly everything they wrote was worse than "Strawberry Fields", I think you should go comment on the list.

Fun game. Assuming that "Strawberry Fields" truly is the eighth best song recorded by The Beatles, it seems that any band with seven songs better than that one ought to be recognized as being better than The Beatles. Get out your ipods and let me know your top ten bands better than The Beatles currently on your ipods. (The only rule is that those songs have to be on the ipod.)

Ten (Not top, but in alphabetical order)
10. Arcade Fire
9. Beach Boys
8. Beirut
7. Belle & Sebastian
6. Brian Jonestown Massacre
5. The Buzzcocks
4. The Clash
3. David Bowie
2. Deerhood
1. Elvis Costello


mvr said...

The Beach Boys belong on no top ten list.

That quibble aside you could have 100 songs better than someone's 8th best song and yet no songs better than their seventh best. So that measure isn't determinative.

None of this is to say that the Beatles were the best band evah. Probably there is none such, when stated in that categorical way. There are many songs I like better than any Beatles song, but some of them probably would not have been around were it not for the Beatles. One thing I think they excelled in was making other stuff possible, in a way probably few other bands did. How that stacks up in ranking them against others, I can't say.

Also, I don't actually think we can hear Beatles songs like other songs. Almost all of them have been played to death. Many of them are less interesting in light of what came after. And so many people have created such expectations for what they should be like that they can't live up to the hype.

Not that this comment adds up to anything except maybe skepticism about the premise of ranking bands and the expression of a bit of disgust at the Beach Boys as even in the running.

Alastair Norcross said...

Oh Clayton Clayton Clayton, here we go again. You really must stop broadcasting to the whole world your execrable musical taste. The only one on your list that can even be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles is David Bowie. Were you dropped on your head as a baby?

Clayton said...

I'm assuming that the value of "Octopus's Garden" is not greater than 0.

Actually, I was. Still have a scar over my left eye. So, you think the list is bad or do you just love "Octopus's Garden"?

Alastair Norcross said...

I haven't studied the list in detail, but from what I've seen it's probably no worse than most other people's ordering of Beatles songs. I certainly wouldn't put "Yellow Submarine" or "Octopus's Garden" in the top 100. I probably wouldn't put "Strawberry Fields" in the top 10, but I do like the song (it's probably a generational thing).
I actually prefer David Bowie (at least through "Let's Dance") to the Beatles most of the time, but I admire the Beatles more. The Clash were good for a couple of albums, Elvis Costello came and went, and the rest on your list are pure mediocrity.
The head dropping thing could explain a lot!

Anonymous said...

songs by each that i think are better than any beatle song...

10. Arcade Fire - there are a few but nothing makes me dance like rebellion
9. Beach Boys - ho hum, just for you clayton im gonna say "God Only Know"
8. Beirut - elephant gun!
7. Belle & Sebastian - there are too many, but JUDY and the DReam of Horses is a childhood classic
6. Brian Jonestown Massacre -no single beatle can be as crazy as Anton, not even John.I will have to go with... the entire album of "Thank God for Mental Illness"
5. The Buzzcocks - I always loved "Oh shit! "
4. The Clash- POLICE AND THEIVES by farrrrrr
3. David Bowie - one from each different alt-ego a. London Boys (yesssss) b. starman c. space oddity
2. Deerhood - i cant choose between GIGA DANCE and PANDA PANDA PANDA!
1. Elvis Costello - i know pump it up is cliche but its that or less than zero :P

i have to say i like the beatles too, but my favorte songs are the ones no one listens to or knows of (in my generation at least)