What's the Beatles backlash all about?

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In case you hadn't heard, the Beatles blow. They're overrated lightweights who aren't as influential as certain pivotal punk bands, and they're to blame for all that soft rock commemorated in the latest Time Life Music infomercial. And those Sgt. Pepper costumes are, let's face it, cornier than any boy-band outfit of the '90s.

Of course, what you have heard and already know is that Beatle-bashing is as old as the Beatles' music itself: They've been derided by everyone from Lou Reed to incensed Christians. Lately, though, rampant Beatle-dissing has taken on an intensity and force it never had before. The impetus for much of it has been the fortieth anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which produced not only the expected media nostalgia wave but a storm of revisionist thinking. And the backlash will only grow louder when Julie Taymor's eye roll-inducing movie musical Across the Universe arrives on September 14.

In a New York Times op-ed, no less a pop classicist than Aimee Mann admitted she loved the album as a child but now feels it's missing "emotional depth," that "John Lennon's melodies feel a bit underwritten while Paul McCartney's relentless cheerfulness is depressing." On Salon, rock writer Gina Arnold weighed in, "There's a number of current bands that you can say, 'These guys like Sgt. Pepper,' but they're oddballs, like the Polyphonic Spree." So the album's legacy amounts to a bunch of toga-clad, faux-cheery ironists: Ouch....

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