If you’ve opened up iTunes within the past two or so weeks, you’ve noticed that the homepage is plastered with The Beatles. After years of dispute, the Fab Four finally reconciled with Apple (the software company, that is) and worked out a deal to sell Beatles music on iTunes. It took all of a few hours for the general public to figure out what Apple’s “big announcement” was going to be. Much to my disappointment, it had nothing to do with the mysterious, much-chattered about iTunes “cloud” music service.
Tech blog Gizmodo posted a list of iTunes announcements that would have been more interesting, including “We bought out every remaining Zune from Microsoft.” The deal even made the nightly news, but some folks were quick to sour on the hype. In reality, the Beatles were going to make it to iTunes eventually, and as several folks like David Kravets from Wired Magazine pointed out, this wasn’t all that historic. Kravets talked about how Beatles tunes already exist on people’s iPods and MP3 players. They’ve been there for years, ripped from CDs or illegally downloaded.
Killer point, no? Well, Rolling Stone.com reported that within a day of the albums’ release, all 17 were in the iTunes Top 50 chart for digital downloads. Apparently there are people out there who do not own Beatles records. The Glee Christmas album might still be in the No. 1 range, but as long as Bieber keeps his distance, I’m fine.
Last December EMI offered a limited edition apple (as in George Martin and company)-shaped flash drive loaded with 14 albums, in stereo, and of course it was also last year that we were wading through the buzz of the newly re-mastered collection.
I made sure to gripe loudly about that flash drive business. Acquiring a band’s complete collection of albums should be a project, a long-term labor of love. A flash drive is way too easy. I distinctly remember saying something like, “The Beatles on a flash drive are the Beatles without context.” I still believe that, and not just about this one band.
In any case, it seems that when it comes to the Beatles, there’s never a good reason not to make a big deal about them.
The networks worked themselves into a fervor on the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in the States. Sgt. Pepper turned 40 in 2007 (on my birthday, mind you), and this October the media was flooded with remembrances of John Lennon, 30 years after his murder.
Perhaps the hoopla surrounding the Apple deal stemmed from a relief that we don’t have to hear about how close the two parties are to agreeing. I’d say, let me know when you sort yourselves out. Maybe it’s because the Beatles are still popular in a musical world so fragmented that it feels nothing short of a miracle that so many people of so many ages can come together (sorry) on a band and share that experience. Another news item is another reason to start talking about them again.
I think that’s the big story. It has to mean something when 10-year-olds are still claiming the Beatles as their favorite band. I think that’s pretty cool, regardless of how they’re getting their albums—just as long as it’s not from an apple-shaped flash drive.
Erin Carson, Vision editor, is a senior journalism major in the Honors Program.