Originally Posted by Andrew Szilvasy
I don't have a taste for really good music, but pop music is essentially the Rupi Kaur of music: it's designed to bring people in and entertain, but not necessarily to challenge... Because pop music has to sell, it sells comfort, and so it essentially sells nostalgia. That includes the Beatles. Because I have not developed a taste for music that tries to do more, I enjoy the Beatles, but they rarely challenge me lyrically, thematically, or musically.
That The Beatles solely deal in comfort and nostalgia, and that they never challenge you for all intents and purposes lyrically or musically are curious claims. Many a doctor of music, according to this university
, cannot lay claim to it: The Beatles are among the most successful groups ever, ‘yet underneath the fame and fortune, there are rich, complex chords and harmonies that to this day still baffle musicologists
.’ This is no fluff and no Rupi Kaur of music. I should think it simply too reductive likewise to claim that the sole province of popular music is recycled nostalgia and comfort; the assertion would follow for some artists in the category, but surely not all alike. I would distinguish the Brian Wilsons
and Kate Bushes from the Lady Gagas and Justin Timberlakes; the consummate from the commercial artists.
If the lot from Liverpool really trafficked solely in mere nostalgia and unchallenged comfort, how then did they change the sound, the form, the ambition, and the language of popular music? How then were they continually curious about all types of music and reinventing their own by infusing it with influences from multiple cultures? To quote some doc: ‘With Pop music still in its infancy back in the early sixties, The Beatles broke so much lyrical, musical, stylistic, and cultural ground that by the time they split up in 1970, they left little territory for successive generations of musicians to explore.’
Would you believe? I am not even that into pop or a diehard Beatles guy, truth be told. But I know enough to know that there is more to the panoply of the genre than nostalgia and comfort regurgitated, with The Beatles a case in point. Granted, the top of the pop charts
really that monolithic fare of comfort sans innovation you describe* (the charting singles were not always thus, as has been scientifically substantiated
; for pop music nowadays that challenges and does more, one had better look to less commercial niches outside The Billboard Hot 100.) Much more could be said on this head. I could not forbear saying something though.
* The studies concur with what is basically intuitive: that the pop acts that make the most money and chart the best are least complex and most repetitive, unless, of course, they fit into the Mumford & Sons/Lumineers pop-folk mold.