Beatles or Bieber?


Friday, February 14, 2014

They screamed for Sinatra, they screamed for Elvis. But the scream that erupted when the Beatles came to America and went on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 was like no scream before it, heralding the dawn of the youth culture frenzy we think of as the 60s.

In Justin Bieber’s Believe, a documentary that came out this winter, footage of the Beatles and their Beatlemaniacs is intercut with the teen singer’s fans, known as Beliebers. 

Is the comparison fair? Bieber and the Beatles (in their early days) share an interest in love as a subject, and say “baby” a lot. Bieber and the early Beatles alike earned the scorn of music critics. (Newsweek called the Beatles' Ed Sullivan performance “a near-disaster ... guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat.”)

We talked with Beliebers who — on a scale of 1 to 10 — love Justin “infinite times an infinite amount of infinity,” and with Beatlemaniacs who swear loyalty to the end: “When I’m laid out in that little old coffin,” says one fan, “I'm going to have Beatles music playing in the background. No hymns, just Beatles. Especially Revolver.”  

→ Will Justin Beiber stand the test of time? Will he write his Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?
Tell us in a Comment below.

    Music Playlist
  1. All My Loving
    Artist: The Beatles
    Label: Universal Music
    Purchase: Amazon

    Performance on The Ed Sullivan Show

  2. Baby
    Artist: Justin Bieber
    Album: My World 2.0
    Label: Island
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Ask Me Why
    Artist: The Beatles
    Album: Please Please Me
    Label: EMI
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. She Loves You
    Artist: The Beatles
    Label: Universal Music
    Purchase: Amazon

    Performance on The Ed Sullivan Show

  5. Boyfriend
    Artist: Justin Bieber
    Album: Believe 
    Label: Island Records
    Purchase: Amazon
  6. She Said She Said
    Artist: The Beatles
    Album: Revolver 
    Label: Capitol
    Purchase: Amazon


Paul VanDeCarr

Comments [14]

Marshall Newman from Alexandria, VA

I was horrified and amused by people imagining that Justin "Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby" Bieber would be fit to be compared to the Beatles. Bobby Sherman, maybe, the Bay City Rollers, certainly, but not the Beatles. Talk about comparing chalk and cheese. 1994 is the year that Kurt Cobain died and the year Justin Beiber was born, music received a double blow in that year clearly.

Feb. 16 2014 10:19 PM
Rancito Barnes from Birmingham, AL

When playing open mike nite I'll sometimes ask if there are any Beatles fans in the house. Always a reaction. Then I'll play Baby Blue by Badfinger and watch their heads explode. Bieber v The Beatles? More like Bieber v Vanilla Ice.

Feb. 16 2014 06:31 PM
Nancy from Rhode Island

From a mother and teenage daughter: a far better comparison is between the Beatles and One Direction: both are groups (4 vs. 5), both have girl fans who debate over who's the cutest, best singer, best personality,etc., the most obvious is they're both boy Brit bands. And have you seen the ID music videos?

Feb. 16 2014 01:07 PM
Adam from NYC

The Beatles rule, no doubt about it. (Btw, I saw Strawberry Fields, the tribute band mentioned in this segment, and they're actually really good.) I doubt there will be a Justin Bieber tribute band playing in another 50 years.

Feb. 15 2014 05:23 PM
D-Mac from Connecticut

Justin Bieber is a future musical footnote, much like Danny Bonaduce or Vanilla Ice. By the summer of 2015, he will be a cautionary tale – by the summer of 2020, he will have achieved full footnote status. That is – if he doesn't immolate himself in a horrendous car crash or drug disaster before then.

Feb. 15 2014 04:54 PM
Danielle from Boston

Absolutely not. I do appreciate you bringing this up. I'm 25, and when I was 10 I thought Nsync would be around forever. The truth is I love The Beatles now more than any other musician. The same thing will happen with Bieber. At least the boys from Nsync had class.

Feb. 15 2014 07:52 AM
Steve Klose from Englewood

Must have been a slow week at Studio 360.

Feb. 14 2014 10:00 PM
Magee from NYC


The very notion of comparison = sheer idiocy.

Ignoramushood is apparently alive and well.

Feb. 14 2014 01:36 PM
Conscious at last!

Yes, good joke! I think you are egging us on by comparing Bieber to the Beatles. It's just silly, as others have suggested here. It's like comparing moonshine to champagne. Both can give you a buzz - but beyond that, come on!

Many years ago, I was listening to a similar discussion on NPR. They were comparing New Kids on the Block to the Beatles. The announcer said, "Please do not put those two names in the same sentence." Enough.

Feb. 14 2014 11:45 AM
Ben K. from New City

Justin Beiber is a Bobby Sherman behaving badly, but in the end it will probably be easy come, easy go.

Feb. 14 2014 09:41 AM

Now I know I sound like my father, who called Beatles music "noise" as compared to Perry Como and Mel Torme.

But so what? Justin Beiber will go the way of the Jonas Brothers, In Sync, and Britney Spears.

Feb. 14 2014 08:41 AM

There's no comparison when it comes to their music. The Beatles wrote and sang songs that were then recorded by performers, both vocalists and instrumentalists from past generations and for generations to come. People of all ages can sing/ hum a Beatle's song today because their music is enduring and touches the human heart. Bieber music excites adolescent hormones (as did The Beatles for a while), if it does anything.

Feb. 14 2014 08:25 AM
Jerry Zaks from MYC

Oh you guys...
Justin Beiber and THE BEATLES???
Are you hallucinating?
They may have screaming fans in common but, seriously, that's it.
Maybe Justin Bieber and Frankie Avalon?
Have a good one.

Feb. 14 2014 08:19 AM
Jonathan Lanzkowsky from New York

This is blasphemy! The Beatles changed music forever- no studio tricks no pitch correction programs. They wrote new revolutionary tunes that were poppy and meaningful and have stood the test of time. They also had three significant so g writers assembled in one band. Beiber will be a footnote.

Feb. 14 2014 07:44 AM

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