While the Beatles began as a Skiffle band, they explored several other genres in their history together. The Beatles actually influenced several other genres which hadn’t been fully created yet.
What genre is The Beatles? According to certain estimates, the Beatles actually played 13-20 genres in their musical career. While most would classify their genre of music as either pop or rock, they experimented with several genres.
The Different Genres the Beatles Played
Merseybeat was the name given to bands which had originated from the Merseyside region near Liverpool in the 1960s. The early recordings of the Beatles, which include the entire “A Hard Days Night” album can be categorized as Merseybeat. Other early albums like Please Please Me are also in the same type.
However, the style was not particularly unique. However, this is similar to how most bands in their infancy perform. They only create their identity a few albums down the line. Hence, the Beatles became synonymous with Merseyside in the early days.
Rock and Roll
You can find Rock and Roll everywhere in the Beatles’ music during their latter recordings. Songs like Revolution and the Ballad of John and Yoko are obvious examples of this shift. They obviously took from influences during their time, yet they formed their own voice.
This is a hybrid genre that was making quite the impression during the time of the Beatles. Others like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were making heads turn with their own interpretations of folk and folk rock. Several songs of the Beatles including I’ll Follow the Sun and the entirety of Rubber Soul is filled with folk songs.
If there’s one thing that the Beatles probably pioneered in the true sense, it’s psychedelic rock music. Their most critically acclaimed album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a perfect example of this music.
Other albums like The Magical Mystery Tour with songs like I Am the Walrus and even Tomorrow Never Knows embody psychedelic rock. There’s also Yellow Submarine which is about an entire trip under the ocean.
Art Rock is a more sophisticated approach and can be conflated with psychedelic rock in some cases. The Sgt. Pepper’s album also has several examples of Art Rock. However, there are several other examples in the Revolver album as well.
Songs like I Want You (She’s So Heavy) and A Day in the Life, or even Revolution can be regarded as Hard Rock. Growing through the rest of 60s, this genre came into its own with bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
Of course, if there’s one genre that the Beatles completely embodied, it was pop. In true terms, the popularity of the Beatles ensured that they defined popular music. With songs like Let It Be, Here Comes the Sun, Hey Jude, and Obla Di Obla Da, they defined pop music over and over.
Who are The Beatles?
The Beatles were essentially a boy band that were formed in the early 1960s. However, they became the best-selling musical act of all time due to their popularity and influence on music. For this, they are arguably called the most influential band of all time.
The Beatles experienced a boost in popularity in 1964 when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in America. According to records, 73 million people saw their performance in the program. With that, they grew in popularity to influence popular culture.
In 2021, they were the only band, other than BTS, to sell more than 1 million albums. Even 6 decades after their initial rise, they are still incredibly popular.
What Did the Beatles Bring to Music?
The Beatles brought a unique voice to music and defined the sixties as much as the sixties defined them.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Beatles’ genre of music from Strawberry Fields Forever to Across the Universe embodied the sixties. It was that ineffable cocktail of emotion and intellect that changed the world completely.
The Beatles, along with Bob Dylan, would go onto inspire people like Steve Jobs who would revolutionize the world of music through technology.
The Beatles’ experimentation with music encouraged other groups to do the same like Nirvana, Beach Boys, and Billy Joel.
However, the Beatles also dabbled in topics that other musicians seldom did including religion and spirituality. This was again akin to the spirit of the 1960s which encouraged exploration and experimentation.
They Brought Eastern Spirituality to the West
In 1968, the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh in North India to take part in Transcendental Meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The music they made after their visit incorporated not only eastern instruments, but also eastern philosophy.
The Beatles “Saved the World from Boredom”
This quote is attributed to George Harrison. While it’s arguable if it’s completely true or not, it certainly carries weight. The Beatles were perhaps more responsible for the change the ethos of the west in the sixties than anyone else.
Their music and their influence followed and informed the changes which affected the society in the west. Their adoption of the Hippie lifestyle as well as their strong anti-war stance during the Vietnam War spoke to the youth. It resulted in the change in the cultural zeitgeist which eventually followed into the 70s.
What Did The Beatles Sing About?
The Beatles sang about everything from peace, love, and loneliness, to spirituality, religion, and war.
They Sung About Politics
The Beatles though never sung specifically about any political message. They did sing very specifically about revolution and giving peace a chance. Revolution is itself about the inclination to take part in violent acts and yet refusing to do so since it’s anti-revolutionary. The song specifically names Chairman Mao and the Chinese Revolution as an anti-thesis of peace.
Give Peace a Chance, though not strictly a Beatles song, was composed by John Lennon to give people that very simple message.
They Sung About Spirituality
As said before, the Beatles sang about spirituality and religion after coming back from India.
Songs like Across The Universe which includes the words “Jai Guru Deva Om” and Norwegian Wood which incorporates the Sitar are evidence of this.
They also created songs like the Inner Light and Let It Be which were about spiritual experiences and awakenings.
They Sung About Everything Under the Sun
The Beatles truly sang about everything under the sun including the everyday lives of people. For example, they sang a song called Penny Lane about the different people who live on the aforementioned lane. They also sang a song called Obla Di Obla Da about two people getting married and starting a family.
The Beatles Genre of Music can possibly be categorized as experimentation. They were perhaps the most influential band of all time and their influence can still be felt today because of it.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.