Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beatles: Very slight tremor, few injured

Yesterday, there were two schools of thought about the Beatles iTunes launch. Naturally, we were going with the cynical, won't make much difference line, while Gennaro Castaldo led the charge for this being a ground-breaking moment. A watershed. A Kennedy-in-Dallas moment. Gennaro foresaw a singles chart clogged with Beatles as far as the eye could see, for as long as recorded history could bear.

At first, it looks like Gennaro was right, judging by the Guardian's report:

British music-lovers are double-clicking their love for Hey Jude, Twist and Shout, and Let It Be.

At the time of writing, Beatles songs have been available as legitimate paid downloads for just under a day. And already the Fab Four occupy 15% of iTunes UK's top 200.
15% of the top 200? That's thirty tracks.

That really would clog the top of the chart.

Except, to clog the top of the chart, you'd have to be near the top of the chart:
40 Hey Jude
59 Twist and Shout
65 Let It Be
77 Here Comes the Sun
79 Twist and Shout
97 Blackbird
98 In My Life
99 I Saw Her Standing There
101 Come Together
109 A Day in the Life
123 Hey Jude
125 Help!
128 Eleanor Rigby
146 I Am the Walrus
147 Let It Be
154 Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
155 A Hard Day's Night
158 Yesterday
160 Hey Bulldog
163 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
171 Yesterday
172 You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
176 Strawberry Fields Forever
183 Strawberry Fields Forever
184 With a Little Help From My Friends
185 In My Life
190 Norwegian Wood
192 Penny Lane
194 Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
197 The Long and Winding Road
198 Here Comes the Sun
There are some doubles because there's more than one instance of some songs in the iTunes store.

But let's just look at the top end of that chart - even with all the hype, they've not even managed to dominate the iTunes top ten. And only one song has managed to scrape into the Top 40.

Far from being long-awaited, it turns out that the response to The Beatles coming to iTunes has been a path largely beaten away from Paul McCartney's door.

Perhaps Castaldo was right, though. This does feel like a watershed moment. The day when The Beatles started to be just another band.

Now, that has been long-awaited.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's kind of sad how much you're hoping to see the Beatles fail. But since everyone and his brother has said the Beatles going on iTunes after so long is no big deal, why would anyone expect their songs to be in the top 40? Still, who else has ever had that many OLD songs charting at one time? I think it's pretty impressive for songs many people already have.

And as it turns out, the Beatles albums (all 15 of them) are charting in the iTunes top 40 albums chart, with Abbey Road at No. 7 and the full box set at No. 11. So hold off the schadenfreude.

The Beatles will never be just another band. In the past year, since their remasters came out, they've sold 17 million CDs. Not bad for "just another band."

simon h b said...

First, the main focus of the post was HMV's music expert going 'they will clog the singles charts' compared with them, erm, not doing so.

Of course the Beatles have sold a few albums on iTunes - but the point is, given the massive amount of press coverage, the sort of announcement Apple usually give to something like a new iPhone, and years of speculation, they're not even managing to outsell Pink's greatest hits. Or, god help us, James Blunt's new record.

They're selling like just another band. Which is fine for them - it's not like they need any more money - but shows a disjoint between the assumption that their coming to iTunes was a landmark event, and the reality.

Who else ever had that many old songs charting at one time? Michael Jackson when he died springs to mind.

I've heard the 17 million copies of the remasters thing being thrown around, and, yes, that's pretty good sales figures. It's across - what, 14, 15 albums, and across the planet, and across twelve months, and again came after a massive publicity campaign. It's not exactly a staggering figure in that context.

The Beatles will still sell, and they'll sell in the kind of numbers that The Courteeners can only dream of. Their fans are quite well off and still loyal.

But what they're not doing is growing a huge new fanbase. There are new Beatles fans; there's just no Beatlemania any more.

That's a good thing, by the way. We're as far away from the release of Love Me Do as the release of Love Me Do was from the outbreak of the First World War. It's good we're moving on.

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