Today’s pop fans feel closer to their idols than ever, but they would rather Tweet than trek it to the airport.
The chaotic excitement of The Beatles touching down in Australia 50 years ago was unprecedented. Thousands of screaming fans scaling buildings, girls treated for hysteria and hotel stake outs. It was a public display of complete and utter devotion to The Fab Four.
But it wouldn’t happen today.
“That visit by The Beatles was pretty much the only contact an Australian would have had with their favourite band,” said expert in popular culture at the University of Melbourne Dr Lauren Rosewarne.
Twitter and Facebook are connecting fans with their favourite artist more than ever before, saving many parents a trip to the airport.
“They can have direct contact with them [on the internet]. Their favourite artist might be Tweeting them several times a day,” said Dr Rosewarne.
In 2010 Australian crowds camped out overnight to catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber performing on Channel 7’s ‘Sunrise’ program, only to be turned away after thousands stormed the barricades forcing the cancellation of the outdoor performance.
Impressive? Yes. But it still doesn’t compete with half of Adelaide’s population, men and women of all ages, turning out to catch a glimpse of The Beatles in 1964.
“The Beatles were encompassing of a very broad range of people,” said Associate Professor of popular music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Dr Charles Fairchild.
“They played everything from dirty blues to light pop, to ballads, to things that sounded almost like waltzes. Their musical diversity was really impressive,” he said.
The psychology behind fandom remains similar and is driven, in large part, by teenage girls infatuated by their idols. But the simple posters on bedroom walls have been replaced with acts of devotion that saturate the internet.
“Fans were still writing to The Beatles, [but] it wasn’t being done in a public forum,” said Dr Rosewarne.
“Now if you’re defending your favourite artist on Twitter you’re doing it where everyone can witness your hysterical love of an artist.”
Undeniable star power and raw talent ensured The Beatles longevity and loyalty from their fans. It’s arguable that “pop” charts today are filled to the brim with catchy, but fleeting moments of musical puff. Could it be that mobbing an artist is only worth it when the product you’re perspiring over is genuine?
“[Being a popstar] is a wildly different thing now,” said Dr Fairchild.
“It’s about being a constantly available presence… and most popstars [today] have their songs written by other people.”
Whether it’s a question of quantity over quality with today’s popstars, somehow celebrating the 50th anniversary of a VEVO video record doesn’t quite compare to the day The Beatles came to town.
The Twit List: most followed pop stars on Twitter
Katy Perry: 53,627,550
Justin Bieber: 52,186,177
Lady Gaga: 41,508,211
Taylor Swift: 41,251,482
Britney Spears: 37,552,618
Justin Timberlake: 32,608,095
Jennifer Lopez: 27,802,876
Demi Lovato: 22,665,340
Harry Styles: 20,850,111
Selena Gomez: 20,525,683
One Direction: 19,205,465
In comparison the Official The Beatles Twitter account has 2.28M followers.