Considered the greatest band ever and ushering in the great British invasion in 1964, The Beatles impact on music is unrivaled…not so fast. A study by Royal Society Open Science finds that hip hop has had a far greater impact on the charts. There were three periods that the study found revolutionized music the most; 1964’s rock and roll, 1983’s new wave sound and 1991’s emergence of hip hop into the mainstream.
The study found the importance of the British invasion to be somewhat underwhelming, “While the British may have contributed to this revolution, they could not have been entirely responsible for it.” Naming 1950’s rock artists Little Richard and Chuck Berry as the real pioneers for the explosion that would later happen in 1964. Suddenly Paul McCartney’s comparison of Kanye West and John Lennon seems much more apropos.
Scientists analyzed over 17,000 songs from the U.S. Billboard pop charts from 1960 to 2010. They took 30 second snippets of those songs and separated them into categories such as chord patterns and instruments used. This allowed for a non-bias look at the song by measuring their make-up and how they have changed over time.
“The rise of rap and related genres appears .. to be the single most important event that has shaped the musical structure of the American charts in the period we studied.”
Does this study diminish the accomplishments of The Who or The Rolling Stones? No. The study was designed to examine musical change and the time periods. What the study does do is validate (not that it needs to) to the mainstream how important rap music and hip hop is to the country. So that whole greatest band ever debate needs to start including some Public Enemy and N.W.A. in the discussion.
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