Monday, July 11, 2011

the anatomy of a post-help! hit (introduction & rubber soul)

Those of you who have been following this blog might remember that I posted the Anatomy of a pre-Help! Hit a while back. At the end of that post, I promised to tackle the anatomy of a post-Help! hit. However, as you might expect, the diversity of genres and styles included in the post-Help! albums makes that task pretty difficult.

This is the beginning of my attempt to somehow order the seemingly un-orderable. People often say that the Beatles covered virtually every genre in their post-Help! work (of course, they didn't, but there's that pesky hyperbole clouding actual analysis again), but in the next few posts I'm going to try to determine the actual universe of genres they engaged with by categorizing their post-Help! album tracks. Through that process, I'm going to try to pin down the anatomy of a post-Help! hit.

Here's how it's going to work: I've included below the categories that I think basically encompass the album tracks. Each post will include a categorization of one album's tracks into these categories. Once I've posted every categorization, I'll post the progression of genre emphases (in other words, the number of tracks on each album that fell into each category). In this way, we'll be able to see how the styles of the music progressed. Finally, I'll look at both the progression of genre emphases and the hits from that time period (just the tracks they released as singles) to try to pin down the anatomy of a post-Help! hit.

So let's get started! Here's the categorization for Rubber Soul:

Ballads (4)
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
In My Life

Psychedelic rock

Novelty/parody songs

Heavy rock (8)
Drive My Car
You Won't See Me
Nowhere Man
Think for Yourself
The Word
If I Needed Someone
Run For Your Life

Rockabilly-style rock (2)
What Goes On
I'm Looking Through You

So Rubber Soul appears to be mostly heavy rock, with a few ballads thrown in for good measure. There's no psychedelic rock or novelty/parody tracks at all! What does that mean for Beatles hit anatomy? You'll have to wait and see.

If you disagree with the above categorization, or if my process is unclear (which is very possible, considering that I came up with this sort of on a whim), please let me know in the comments!


  1. New to this blog - you've done a nice job! You've taken on a difficult task, but I think I would disagree with one thing. I would put I'm Looking Through You as a straight rock song vs. Rock-a-billy Again, there is subjectivity here

  2. Hi Scit,

    Thanks for reading! I put I'm Looking Through You in the Rockabilly category because of the guitar riffs. They sound pretty Carl Perkins to me, but you're right - there's definitely subjectivity here!