The death of cultural transmission, an update

Rob Smith, the FT's fixed income guru, strode up to our desk a few minutes ago after reading our earlier piece on the questionable future of music back catalogues, and pointed us to a film coming out next year.

It's called Yesterday, and it's directed by Danny Boyle, of Trainspotting fame, and written by Richard Curtis, of Love Actually fame.

Here's the trailer:

We wrote this, erm, yesterday about some of the ways a label might try to prolong a back catalogue, such as the Beatles' oeuvre:

Of course, there are other ways to bring the classics into vogue. The recent spate of passable music biopics — such as the Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody — can help revive the classics for a few months. But these bumps in streams are not only unpredictable, as demonstrated by the flop that was the Tupac Shakur film All Eyez on Me, they're also one-offs. Arguably the culture transmission effect requires constant exposure, not just 90 minutes in the cinema.


The Alphavillians and Rob watched the above trailer together, and it provoked a heated discussion which, at pixel, is still on-going.

So here's a question for our culturally informed readers:

If the Beatles songs were released today with modern production, would they still be massive hits?

Rob suggested no; the Fab Four were a function of their time, and a song such as I Want To Hold Your Hand would be laughable, no matter the production.

Jemima, on the other hand, thinks their top tunes are timeless.

And Izzy thinks the bigger question is whether Marty McFly really was capable of impacting the 50s with his rendition of Johnny B. Goode..

Ignoring the causal gymnastics of the question, we'd love to know what Alphaville readers think, so do leave thoughts below.

Related Links:
The death of cultural transmission - FT Alphaville

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