Over its half a century of life,Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has been weighted down by expectations. It’s been embraced and discarded, picked apart and reassembled, studied and analyzed, revered and derided. At each turn, it’s picked up baggage.
I can’t imagine anyone hearing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time without being a little disappointed. It’s too familiar and uniformly accepted as a cornerstone work of art to judge fairly. It’s like Citizen Kane or The Great Gatsby. People tell you it’s great so much you lose perspective. It’s taught in classes and listed as a classic.
I know music fans who hate it and believe their hate says something important about their taste and personality.
I asked the BTRtoday staff to listen to the album and give their thoughts. Some of my cool young writers feel oppressed or simply nonplussed by an album they’ve been assured is great all their lives. Others like it as a musical journey, a nostalgia trip or an echo of someone else’s psychedelics.
“Sgt. Pepper” is fine. Just fine. It may deserve the praise it routinely draws, it may not. All I know is that if I have to listen to one more neckbeard spout on about the album’s profound impact on the lineage of rock ‘n’ roll and The Beatles’ mastery of everything in the musical universe, I will throw up. Moving on. —Taia Handlin, BTRtoday Staff Writer and host of the Juicy Bits podcast
I mean, it’s the ultimate pop album. It takes you through a story that’s relatable, because it’s based on everyday life, but it also very much has this weird LSD-infused feel. If you want to be respected for your taste in music, you just have to have an obsession phase with this album. I don’t know anyone in the music world who hasn’t. Even though I know lots of people, myself included, who can hardly stand listening to The Beatles anymore, the album is still highly regarded. Also, it doesn’t matter how much time goes by of me not listening to this album, I’ll still always know the lyrics to every song. —Elena Childers, BTRtoday Staff Writer and host of the Music Meetup and New Vibrations podcasts
The album reminds me of a barbecue filled with people my parents’ age reminiscing about times when they weren’t exactly sure what was in the acid they were dropping. It’s like a vague psychedelic experience for people that hadn’t yet had one. Not my favorite musically but a solid listen, with obvious classics, and miles beyond whomever you’d consider the most popular musical act nowadays in terms of creativity.—Joe Virgillito, BTRtoday Staff Writer and host of the Daily Beat podcast
I grew up listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on vinyl with my Parents. I used to stare at the album cover, trying to figure out who the members of the band were. Until yesterday, I hadn’t listened to the album in its entirety for over 15 years. The Beatles are so versatile as musicians and songwriters. They take you on a vivid journey over 39 minutes, morphing from a Brit- pop group to a psychedelic outfit to a classical Hindu ensemble. The album is a classic, there are so many hits. The title track is my second favorite—it’s so good they play it twice. My #1 is ” A Day In The Life.” It’s basically two songs in one. Oh! One more thing: George Harrison is my favorite Beatle. —Lottie Leymarie, BTRtoday Chief Content Officer/Music Director and host of The Jaunt podcast