This evening, after spending enough time indoors  over the course of my weekend, I decided to brave the elements and get some much-needed groceries and some shaving cream, and while I went, I got to listen to some lesser-known Beetles tracks from a station that devoted the entire afternoon and evening to playing songs from the Beetles in honor of the 50th anniversary of their arrival in the United States to play the Ed Sullivan show, which inaugurated Beetlemania in the United States. It should be noted, in questions of fairness, that the British Beetlemania started a year earlier, when the Beetles’ first two albums became successful over the course of 1963. Since the Beetles were from Liverpool, and made no attempts to hide it (as was common in those days, as most people wanted to be confused for being from the London area because of its greater cultural cachet), it is to be expected that the British would get to hear them first before the United States, even if they honed their craft in Hamburg before being successful in Great Britain.
It is difficult to overestimate the cultural significance of the Beetles, although it is important to note that the Beetles themselves were successful in the United States in large part because they were not so dissimilar from what had long been popular in the United States, albeit with a British accent. In much the same way as the current One Direction single “Midnight Memories” itself owes a great deal to the chord structure of “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” a previous hit, thus allowing it to seem familiar while being a “new” song, the Beetles themselves were apt students of girl groups, Tin Pan Alley pop, and guitar-driven rock, and being craftsmen who absorbed diverse influences while honing their own songcraft, they were able to develop new songs with a Liverpool edge that were nevertheless strongly influenced by American pop-rock. So, when their material reached the United States, it was not too surprising that it should achieve popularity because it was fresh but also familiar in its structure. As human beings are creatures of habit, it is good to be familiar to one’s audience if one wants to be accepted as a newcomer.
Although I have had little cause in this blog entry to comment often on the Beetles themselves, given that their career as a group ended in 1970, their success drastically changed the way that the British looked at their own pop music and it also helped to lead to the contemporary respect that British musicians have received in the United States. By providing an indigenous distillation of American pop and rock with a British edge, the Beetles helped give the United Kingdom confidence in the continued worth of their own native and home-grown musical traditions (including Skiffle). Given the sort of insecurity that Great Britain faced in the face of its imperial retreat and the growing power of the United States, this feeling of continued cultural power and influence was undoubtedly a salve in what was a rather unpleasant time for a nation in the aftermath of its imperial heyday and in a long recovery from the horrors of the Second World War.
Just as the Beetles themselves were influenced by American music, especially at the beginning of their career, before providing a more distinctive sort of music later in their career, the Beetles in turn provided both British and American (to say nothing of the people of other countries) with a distinctive sort of template for music as well. Their music strongly influenced power pop  as well as orchestral pop  and psychodelic pop , and also helped to contrast a pop-rock music that was muscular and punchy and also well-crafted with the overproduced pop music that was then popular in the United States at the time, thus providing the United States with the impetus to return to a more solid rock & roll basis that proved to be enormously culturally significant in the 1970’s and beyond (and not always in good ways). They helped put music on a track that it has yet to depart from through their conscious blend of rhythm elements with well-crafted pop. While certain musicians have emphasized the more rhythm or traditionalist elements of their early music and others the pop songcrafting or experimental tinge or progressive conceptual elements of their later material, they have had a huge impact on anyone whose tastes in music tend towards rock & roll and pop at all , even if there was much that one can be critical about their careers (including their role in helping to make New Age practices and drug use mainstream, their political worldview, and their immorality). We must not celebrate all of the repercussions of their popularity, but if we are fair-minded, we must recognize it and seek to understand it.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: