Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rebuttal: No, Michael Jackson was not more popular than the Beatles

Hey readers. 

What's so funny about this to me is that it was just a theory I had. I'm a HUGE Beatles fan. Anyone who knows me or has read my blog for a little bit knows this. I've taken University classes, I've written and given papers at conferences, I have lots of books and posters... hell, I've got a blog (and hopefully a book eventually) inspired by The Beatles.  I wrote my freaking undergraduate THESIS on The Beatles.

I love me some MJ, but not like I love me some John, Paul, George and Ringo. No way.

The comparison of MJ's popularity to The Beatles or Elvis (or Sinatra) is ridiculous. You can't compare the music industry of the 50s/60s to that of the 80s. Although many of you have brought up some terrific points.

My point was really that in the third world, where folks don't have the financial means to buy records, there is really no way to account for "fandom" and "popularity." So what is popularity if it's not based on numbers? Like I said you don't need to own any MJ to know his music, the same can be said about The Beatles.  Their music permeates every corner of our world.

Here are some of the comments I've gotten on the topic on facebook, check out for other (more colorful responses):

Michael *was* more popular. Past tense. That hasn't been true in almost 20 years, though.

I actually really agree with you. Or at least I scoff at the knee-jerk orthodoxy of the opposition. The fact is, the Beatles are much more hallowed among 1) older music critics and 2) white people. The rest of the world, I call it a wash.

Didn't MJ transform the 80s into HIS decade?

The other writer makes a big deal about MJ fading in his later period both in musical output and personal troubles, but post-heyday repertoire from former Beatles was often lackluster as well, and who gives a damn about his scandals? Or, is it all the more telling that we celebrate him so in spite of them?

I think, Jamie, for those born after 1970, Michael was almost unquestionably bigger. for the boomers, The Beatles were bigger. I do believe it's a generational thing.
Great shot of Paul and Michael, though.

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