Dead Beatles Approve of Rock Band?

9 09 2009

OK, normally I’m skeptical of anyone who claims to have channeled the spirit of a dead celebrity, but this story out of Gi.biz has the ring of truth to it. According to this story, John Lennon and George Harrison would have approved of their music being translated into video game form in Rock Band. The beyond-the-grave quotes come from people with absolutely no financial stake in the success of the game — Sir Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison — so you know it must be true.

In all seriousness, though. I actually believe this. One of the things that gets lost in the Beatles status as hippie icons and early advocates for peace, love and flower power is that all of the Beatles were consummate marketers, savvy businessmen and technological pioneers. Many of their recordings, especially Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, were notable for the technological stunts they pulled during production — everything from back-masking to overdubbing to weird audio tricks they tried in the studio. They were also very good at anticipating trends in popular culture and making themselves over to appeal to what was hot in the zeitgiest. John Lennon took a notable left turn into the avante-garde when Yoko Ono attached herself to him like a lamprey but even on the albums they worked on together, Lennon’s pop music instincts never left him. That’s what making big chunks of Double Fantasy actually worth listening to and stuff by Ono not so much.

It stands to reason therefore that they would have approved of Rock Band. I don’t think anyone expects Paul McCartney to be a real gamer, but eventually he picked up on what it could mean for the Beatles’ music. The Beatles were ultimately a pop music band. In fact, the band practically defined what it is to be a pop music band in the modern era and they were multimedia before it even had a name. Pop music is meant to be spread wide and listened to by a broad swathe of the public. The broad swathe of the public is currently playing games.

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