Who Was Bigger: Elvis or The Beatles? – Part 1

Who Was Bigger: Elvis or The Beatles? – Part 1

It can be hard to determine when looking back at The Fab Four and the King of Rock ’n’ Roll who really was the biggest and who had the most influence on popular culture. Since the time that The Beatles were regarded as being legitimate competition to Elvis Presley when they scored a host of hits in the 60s, those with enquiring minds have spent much time pondering which of the two musical phenomenons achieved more fame and more success.

The question is still often posed simply because each of these acts continues to endure more than 40 years after Elvis died and almost half a century after The Beatles split up. Two computer scientists and their accompanying research, however, may hold the answer to the puzzle. In 2013, Charles B. Ward and Steven Skiena ranked history’s most significant individuals. They even conducted quantitative analysis when comparing historical reputations of entertainers, other scientists, politicians, and other famous people by aggregating the traces of literally millions of opinions online. The algorithm took into account how important people will considered to be 200 years after their death. It may be of no surprise that Jesus ranked at the top of the list as history’s most significant individuals, with Shakespeare at No. 3. Elvis was the highest-ranking individual in the field of entertainment at 69. Madonna ranked 121, Bob Dylan 130, and John Lennon at 162.

Elvis and the composers

Elvis Presley

Elvis rivalled the most famous of classic composers when looking at long-term historical significance. Beethoven ranked 27 and Tchaikovsky 63. Only individuals were ranked in the main list so groups such as The Beatles weren’t able to be included. The authors, however, also compiled some detailed stats for special categories that included inductees of the Rock Hall of Fame. Elvis outranked The Beatles in that list with regards to significance. Elvis ranked at 7.116 and The Beatles 6.707. The Beatles did outrank Elvis in the fame category, scoring 4.423 vs. 3.592. Elvis ranked 3.523 for achievement, with The Beatles at 2.284. They ranked historical figures much like Google ranks webpages, through the integration of a diverse number of measurements regarding their reputation, such as readership, article length, and PageRank into estimates of fame, measured by a combining celebrity and achievement.

Lennon and McCartney behind Beatles

By combining celebrity, achievement, and also reputation, the list ranks Elvis slightly higher than The Beatles, with Lennon and McCartney each ranking only a few slots below the Liverpool band. But does a tabulation of popularity and fame really tell us who was bigger? John Lennon made a very accurate prediction regarding the musical legacy of The Beatles in 1975 when he said that many of the band’s records have the ability to hold up in any musical period unless music drastically changes. Lennon was 100 per cent correct. The true test of the legacy of The Beatles, and Elvis, too, for that matter, is musical longevity. To measure the level of popularity of these two acts- the biggest in entertainment- lies in record sales, which continue to grow. This may sound simple but it’s more complicated than you might think.