Deep thoughts (or not) about Madonna and the Beatles

ahdn2Whilst visiting Oh No They Didn’t, I came across a timesonline.co.uk article entitled “Madonna: more clout than the Beatles, all by herself . . . and wearing heels.”

A few bits from the article:

The Fab Four may have set the benchmark, but the Material Girl outstrips them with her sheer cultural impact…

On the one hand, what Madonna has done in terms of being female, and a female artist, is astonishing. Although the benchmark for all achievements in pop music will probably always be the Beatles, in many ways, Madonna’s intentions and impact on Western culture have been bigger.

The Beatles, for instance, didn’t do it on their own. The Beatles didn’t do it in heels. The Beatles didn’t have to overcome 2,000 years of the patriarchy before they left the house every morning. And, even at their most sociopolitically daring, the Beatles never displayed half the balls that Madonna did between 1989 and 1990…

Now, the points this article raises would certainly make a fascinating book (Is Madonna Bigger Than The Beatles? – now that would be a Number 1 bestseller!), but the issues touched on could hardly be covered thoroughly on a blog. Even so, I made the following comment on the Oh No They Didn’t post:

I absolutely adore Madonna but… I dunno. She’s definitely a pop culture icon and all but the Beatles were a phenomenon. Really, like another commenter said, it’s apples and oranges. Both the Beatles and Madonna are important in pop culture but for different reasons.

I do think it is terribly important, though, as the article points out, to acknowledge and consider Madonna’s success as a female artist in a largely male-driven industry. That said, I’m still not too sure that she’s ultimately “bigger than the Beatles.”

20080403elle01xn8I suppose only time will tell if Madonna is “bigger than the Beatles.” Musically, Madonna does not and will not ever eclipse the impact the Beatles’ songwriting had on the music world. (And I’m saying this as a rabid Madonna fan.) However, Madonna’s cultural impact should not just be dismissed because of that. If you strip Madonna’s career to the core you are left with an incredibly strong, powerful and determined woman who has remained relevant in a fickle industry for over two decades. Whether you like Madonna or can’t stand her, you can’t deny that fact.

But really, why does it have to be a competition? Can’t we appreciate the Beatles and Madonna without pitting them against each other? I know I do. It really is apples and oranges. So while it is interesting to compare the impacts the Beatles and Madonna have made on pop culture, sometimes you just gotta let it (will) be. :)

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