Music as a way of representing individualism, and identity is a concept in the culture industry that has brought much controversy. This is the case, because according tothe article “ The Culture Industry,” by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, our societyis deficient in owning up to this phenomenon. According to Adorno and Horkeimer, we are living in a society where popular media is becoming a commodity of repetition, and a business of reproducing mass culture. In today’s society, the music industry has become a substance of competition and dominance, where many artists are trying to stand out, when in fact their individual art, and style is missing.
One group that negotiates with self-expression is ‘The Beatles.’ They’re a group that not only remains true to themselves, but they have reached out to society in a way that is inspiring. The Beatles have put themselves out there in the market, and they have reached their full potential, by making their style, and sounding unique. The concept of self-expression is important in the music industry in order to maintain individuality and to avoid reproducing something that has already been produced. A group that encompasses this logic is ‘The Beatles.’ Before going into further explanation of why ‘The Beatles’ represent a special identity, Adorno and Horkeimer’s controversy must be addressed and explained in further depth.
In the article “The Culture Industry” they state, “The peculiarity of the self is a monopoly commodity determined by society; it is falsely represented as natural.” (Adorno & Horkeimer, 41). Adorno and Horkheimer in simpler terms are critiquing society by reinforcing that it is in a condition of artificial awareness, and that our culture is broken under authority because of the 1 capitalism that is taking place in the modern world. Another argument that is important inunderlying mass culture is when the article states, “In the culture industry the individual is an illusion not merely because of the standardization of the means of production.” (41).To get an understanding of this we can turn to pop stars such as Britney Spears, Rhianna, and Lady Gaga. They all share similar characteristics and our society is attracted to them.The music industry takes note of this and then begins to create more ‘Britney’s’ and ‘Rhiannas.’ Unfortunately this is what it has come to, but with taking a closer look at
‘The Beatles,’ it can be seen how they remain true to their art. The Beatles are a group that epitomizes what Adorno and Horkeimer are trying to pinpoint. They remain individual because no other artist today in the twenty first century is able to compare with them. They have this unique sound, which makes them able to produce so many songs. Looking at this review that focuses on one of their many albums,it is evident in seeing how this group remains so popular. Their first psychedelic masterpiece, Revolver represents the Beatles at their most creative and cohesive, still a tight rocking unit firing on all cylinders but with a surging freedom of self-expression. It is arguably their greatest album, in which they introduce whole new vistas of sound yet still contain them within tightly structured and performed songs (McCormick, 1)
By what McCormick states, it can be seen why this group has been able to leave an influence for today’s generation. The Beatles are able to leave a lasting impact on their fans, and they’ve laid out originality in the album revolver by seeking out what society wants to hear, but still remaining true to their sound. Even as they are not a group anymore, their music is still listened to, and therefore they will never be forgotten. The Beatles were the first British group to ever write their own songs and music, and they therefore can never be replaced which makes them the reality of music. Lastly, the group has been able to create music that holds meaning in their songs. “Sure, they had their share of “yeah, yeah, yeah” songs in the beginning, but songs such as “We Can Work It Out,” “In My Life,” and just about anything on Sgt. Pepper simply include timeless messages – all packaged in beautiful music.” (Russel,1)
Through the understanding of Adorno and Horkeimer’s article, the main idea to grasp is that the modern world has transformed art into a business. This has caused the entertainment industry to manufacture music that satisfies the needs of society, but it has been done in such a way, where repetition is gained, and individuality is lost. Many artists today share a similar art, and are lacking their own identity, but ‘The Beatles,’ are a group that have shed light upon self-expression. They carry many great qualities such as carrying songs that hold meaning, producing music that reaches out to their fans, and leaving an influence for today’s generation of artists. The main influence being that the band was able to be a part of the music industry for many years and maintain succession. Adorno and Horkeimer’s article informs society of what mass culture, media, and technology has converted to. Although the industry has replicated artists in order to maintain the business of advertising, and making money it doesn’t mean that other artists can’t remain true to their art.
Adorno, Theodor, and Max Horkeimer. “The Culture Industry: Enlightment as Mass
Deception.” The Culture Studies Reader (1944): 29-43. Print.
McCormick, Niel. “The Beatles- Revolver, Review.” The Telegraph. N.p., 7 Sept. 2009.
Russell, Lindsey. “Why The Beatles Still Have A Lasting Impact.” Yahoo! Voices. N.p., 19 Jan. 2007. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. <http://voices.yahoo.com/why-beatles-still-lasting-impact-165802.html?cat=19>