On 9/9/09 (curiously enough, since the next day would have been the one after 909) The Beatles became the first band dubbed worthy of having their own version of Rock Band. It’s an honor that is secondary to the scores of others that the band has received, but noteworthy nonetheless. The Beatle-centered Rock Band game is just one in a number of recent attempts to introduce young fans to the group, following 2008’s Beatles ipod package and 2007’s film Across The Universe.
The most striking thing about all the new Beatles merchandise is that there isn’t any comparable attempt to push other legends’ catalogues to the younger demographic. One could argue that a Rolling Stones’ Rock Band game that includes the possibility of rocking out to “Satisfaction” would be a hell of a lot more fun than a game that involves picking along to “Here Comes The Sun”. While the future may indeed bring such a game the Beatles stand alone for the time being
Bringing the Band to a New Group of Young People
Ultimately, it seems to be the light The Beatles are generally viewed in that deems youth-specific product placement necessary. The testimony that unites people who experienced the band’s career seems to be the idea that the fab four defined their childhood. From America’s first glimpse on The Ed Sullivan Show to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sound tracking the summer of love to their painful breakup their career was experienced primarily, and profoundly, by the youth of the world.
And so, now those few lucky enough to have lived Beatlemania are charged with the task of giving a reasonable facsimile to the unfortunate masses. While nothing can recreate the stadiums full of screaming girls, there are still ways to spark excitement from the music of the Liverpool lads.
One of the main thrusts of the various Beatles revivals seems to be education. It isn’t enough to lecture at kids with “back in my day…” speeches; in order to keep the mania alive an effort to meet young people half way is essential. The Rock Band game gives players a journey starting from the lowly cavern club to the fateful rooftop gig, laying the band’s history out in chronological order to provide an ideal history lesson.
Another Opportunity to Cash In
Though the noble quest for enlightenment is one of the factors in The Beatles’ recent revivals, less admirable motives are also present. The economic incentive of flooding the market with Beatles merchandise once again cannot be overlooked. The band is, after all, the greatest selling act of all time. This isn’t the first time their name has used to sell something besides their recordings, and films, ipods, and video games are a lot better than fake wigs anyway.
The Beatles Rock Band stands as another in a long line of attempts to implant the band into the minds of young people that missed it the first time around. Call it noble, call it greedy, call it whatever.
The important point is that The Beatles relevance hasn’t waned a bit in the forty years since they called it quits. For just a moment the band has captured the attention of millions once more. It’ll be gone in a flash, but it goes to show that Beatlemania has yet to, and may never, bite the dust.