It was hard to take the latest blaspheme hurled in the Beatles direction with American Idol contestants, by and large, butchering Beatles songs for two straight weeks. Sure there were some standouts such as Brooke White’s rendition of Let It Be, Carly Smithson’s version of Come Together, A Day In the Life and Across the Universe by Michael Johns, and Yesterday by Syesha Mercado but nearly all the other performances were bizarre? What do all those songs have in common? They are good. Hello? Why pick the crappiest Beatles songs to sing? If I Fell, Michelle, I Should Have Know Better, Day Tripper, The Long and Winding Road, She’s a Woman, Back in The U.S.S.R., and Eight Days a Week are all terrible.
I’ve Just Seen A Face (Chikezie) and You Can’t Do That (Amanda Overmyer) are two possible exceptions, as I thought they took poor songs and at least made them interesting.
Almost without variance the judges and the call-in voters like performances more if they like the songs being sung. That is why there are cover bands. That is also why, according to the Guinness Book of Records, “Yesterday” has the most cover versions of any song ever written. The song remains popular today with more than 3000 recorded cover versions.
As I sit in the office today listening to the songs I have heard thousands of time before, I am reminded of how good the Beatles were and how good their music still is. Here are a few achievements, feats, and fact from various Wikipedia entries on the Beatles and their music:
- The Beatles are the best-selling musical group of all time, estimated by EMI to have over one billion discs and tapes sold worldwide.
- The Beatles have notched up the most multi-platinum selling albums for any artist or musical group (thirteen in the U.S. alone).
- The Beatles have a record six diamond-selling albums (10 million copies): Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, Abbey Road, The Beatles: 1962-1966, The Beatles: 1967-1970, and The Beatles 1.
- The Beatles have had more number one albums than any other group (19 in the U.S. and 15 in the United Kingdom).
- The Beatles spent the highest number of weeks at number one in the albums chart (174 in the UK and 132 in the U.S.).
- The most successful first week of sales for a double album (The Beatles Anthology Volume 1, which sold 855,473 copies in the U.S. from 21 November to 28 November 1995).
- The Beatles have the fastest selling CD of all time with 1. It sold over 13 million copies in four weeks.
- The Beatles have had more number one singles than any other musical group (23 in Australia, 23 in The Netherlands, 22 in Canada, 21 in Norway, 20 in the U.S., and 18 in Sweden). Ironically, the Beatles could easily have had even more number ones, because they were often competing with their own singles.
- In terms of charting positions, Lennon and McCartney are the most successful songwriters in history, with 32 number one singles in the U.S. for McCartney, and 26 for Lennon (23 of which were written together). Lennon was responsible for 29 Number One singles in the UK, and McCartney was responsible for 28 (25 of which were written together).
- During the week of 4 April 1964, The Beatles held twelve positions on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five positions, which has never been accomplished by any other artist. The songs were “Can’t Buy Me Love” , “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me”. Furthermore, two Beatles tribute records appeared on the chart: “We Love You Beatles” by The Carefrees (at #42), and “A Letter to the Beatles” by The Four Preps (#85).
- The next week, 11 April 1964, the Beatles held fourteen positions on the Billboard Hot 100.
- With their performance at Shea Stadium in 1965, The Beatles set new world records for concert attendance (55,600) and revenue. This was the first time in the history of popular music anyone had played in a proper stadium as opposed to a theatre or concert hall.
- The Beatles broke television ratings records in the U.S. with their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show with over 70 million people viewing.