markus heuger's



  Abstract 0376
  Bannister, Matthew (2001), "Ladies and gentleman ... the Beatelles! The influence of sixties girl groups on the Beatles." In: Yrjö Heinonen, Markus Heuger, Sheila Whitely, Terhi Nurmesjärvi and Jouni Koskimäki (eds.), Beatlestudies 3. Proceedings of the Beatles 2000 conference. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä (Department of Music, Research Reports 23), 2001, 169-179.
  In their first two albums, the Beatles covered five songs first performed by girl groups — the Shirelles, the Marvelettes, the Cookies and the Donays — and cited them as an influence in their early interviews. Yet their contribution to the Beatles' music and image has been little acknowledged or studied. This paper examines the range and extent of influence and how its realisation was affected by the gender politics implicit in rock criticism, history and academia. It also aims to show how the Beatles' perceived androgyny was reflected in the gender politics of their recordings, specifically through the positioning of the subject or singing voice, which it is argued is analogous with its position in girl group music.
  The article opens with a brief survey of standard views of rock history, especially the cyclical view which allies innovative periods with male rock artists and regressive ones with "feminisation" and pop. Hereafter follows a study of perceived musical characteristics of girl groups, drawing on critical accounts, which next is followed by an examination of how the Beatles — and other contemporary male groups — approached these covers in comparison to the girl group originals. The examination of the positioning of the subject in Beatles songs draws on Barbara Bradby's "Do-Talk and Don't Talk: The Division of the Subject in Girl Group Music" — in "On Record", ed. Frith and Goodwin, 1990) — elucidating the position of the narrator as active or passive and the use of first/second/third person.
  The Beatles' approach to the subject is considerably more androgynous — and less sexist — than other male groups of the period, with a much greater emphasis on the male subject as passive feeling. The Beatles tend to elide masculine posturing from their lyrics and performance, due to the sharing of vocal leads and by adoption of an I/you viewpoint which effectively universalises sentiments by freeing them from gender references. The Beatles represent a reconciliation between the male/rock and female/pop axes, fusing the solo male rock lineage of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly with the female tradition of pop oriented girl groups. Their cuddly androgyny is partly a result of girl group influence.
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