Why not knowing The Beatles isn’t a crime
The Beatles

As predicted earlier in the week, the music of The Beatles is now available to stream. At last.

One of the few major acts to withhold their back catalogue, over 200 of their songs are now available on nine different streaming services: Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music, Deezer, Microsoft Groove, Napster, Amazon Prime Music and Slacker Radio.

In their reporting of the announcement, many news organisations, including the BBC, have highlighted – with evident delight – the fact that many younger listeners have never heard of the Liverpudlian band.

It might seem ridiculous to anyone over the age of 30, whose parents probably grew up with The Beatles and passed on their music, that so-called Generation Z could claim ignorance of the biggest band of all time.

But the beauty of pop music is that it doesn’t need to show any reverence to “the canon”.

The most exciting pop stars, like The Beatles themselves, are the ones who – to borrow a phrase from Edwyn Collins – rip it up and start again.

The best thing about the news that The Beatles are now available to stream is that millions of teenagers around the world are now curiously tapping on Please Please Me, Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper’s.

Their early hits exemplify pop music in its purest, most elemental simplicity, but that doesn’t mean that a 16-year-old born in 1999 should know anything about them.

It’s not as if teens in 1963 were totally into Irving Berlin, or whatever was popular in 1911.

Instead of rolling our eyes at the thousands of Twitter users asking “who are the beatles” today, we should take the chance to delve back into the music too, to rediscover the prodigious songwriting without any of the icon status that came later.

With Adele and Taylor Swift having pulled their music from streaming services, who knows, maybe this will spark an unlikely wave of Beatlemania all over again?