Beatles cheapen themselves with Rock Band


Yesterday, legions of loyal fans savored the opportunity to relive Beatlemania once again. Rabid followers will be able to hear a much-anticipated remastered version of select Beatles discography, including a video game, “The Beatles: Rock Band.”

Using the latest technology, these new CDs will be clearer and crisper. Every tiny note that was fuzzy or difficult to hear will now bounce pristinely out of speakers. The harmonies will sound that much more in accord. All snaps, crackles and pops will evaporate. The sound will be the closest to perfection studio technology can let a band reach.

Yet, in all of this celebration over musical enhancement, am I the only one yearning for imperfection? Does all of this infinite tinkering strike anyone else as needless and meddlesome? Call me a traditionalist, but something just makes me uneasy about this process.

The Rock Band idea especially comes off like a desperate attempt by The Beatles to stay relevant in a technology-obsessed era. It irks me that Paul and Ringo feel the need to succumb to the conformist culture.

What spikes my consternation the most is the ever-growing trend by musicians constantly improving upon their previous works. Artists are much more unique and productive when they are creating rather than incessantly tinkering. Experimentation, not a desire for perfection, spawns great music. Outside of the music realm, no other great artists or writers felt the need to nit-pick their own work.

Twenty years after writing “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare didn’t say, “Juliet should actually live. Romeo isn’t her type.” Michelangelo never took a gander up at the Sistine Chapel in his old age and decide to whiten God’s beard because it was a bit too gray.

These revisions seem like an endless cycle to satisfy the artist’s lack of fulfillment.

Maybe I’m being naïve, but I don’t think these releases are primarily financially motivated, and are, I hope, artistically driven. Recently, Paul McCartney has said the sounds he’s hearing now are what he actually heard 40 years ago in the studio. I don’t doubt that. But that isn’t what fans have been hearing for the past 40 years. By utilizing these new innovations, Paul and Ringo are probably thinking they will appeal to an audience whose mop tops haven’t been reduced by a receding hairline.

That is their biggest error in judgment.

The brilliance of The Beatles lies in their constant relevance, their timelessness. For more than 40 years, The Beatles have been discovered by each new generation of music fans without cutting-edge technology. Why is it needed now?

More than the remastered CDs, the Rock Band game strikes me as an unnecessary and unfortunate degradation of “the fab four”. One can argue that Beatle-based projects such as the movie “Across the Universe” and the Cirque du Soleil show “Love,” are art.

Meanwhile, only the classy participants on “Rock of Love” would champion Rock Band as fine art. Personally, I think Rock Band itself is basically a more pathetic version of karaoke. Granted, it is a party favorite because of its simple premise.

People know the songs, and people like the songs. I get it. The Beatles just seem more prestigious than that.

Amidst this technology-saturated, cheap-thrills culture, give me a book to read. Give me deficiencies. Give me an imperfect album. Give me true appreciation.

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

– Mitchell J. Widener is a sophomore in English. Please send comments to