Two of the Beatles are now dead, but the icon of "Beatles" remains, having moved from a Modernist, central position within world culture to a postmodernist, ironic placement as a mixture of nostalgia and commercialism.
When The Beatles first appeared on music scene in 1963, the idea of a musical band being anything more than simply a group of young men (and sometimes women) who played live and who would, if successful, release records, had yet to be invented. Pop groups, even those that became phenomenally successful in a manner never seen before, were clearly definable, and limited Modernist figures. A clear delineation could be made between the pop group and the musical culture/general world in which they performed and lived.
In a modernist and semiotic sense, the relationship between signifier ("The Beatles") and signified (the live performances and records) was fairly clear (Barthes, 1978). But as early as the late stages of Beatlemania in 1964, a postmodern uncertainty was coming into the sign "Beatles" as a slippery commutability between signifier and signified started to occur. Essentially "The Beatles" became a signifier for much more than the signified of their music. ...Show more