Beatles beat Britpop in poll of all-time musical greats

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The Independent Online
THE BEATLES still reign supreme as the kings of British pop music, according to the results of the biggest ever survey of the nation's musical taste, out today.

With 600,000 votes cast, the Beatles dominated the results, taking four out of 10 titles, and were declared Best Band of All Time in the Music for the Millennium poll.

Both the group and its songwriting duo, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, feature prominently in all the major categories they quality for, with Lennon taking the most influential musician title.

The Beatles' supremacy in the poll comes as no surprise, as rock and pop surveys are rarely topped by anyone else.

Despite breaking up three decades ago, the group have consistently won titles such as last year's Album of the Millennium for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A separate survey, carried out around the same time by Virgin Publishing, claimed to have covered 200,000 people in the UK and US. It placed the Beatles' Revolver first, while Sergeant Pepper came second.

The Fab Four were even once voted "the band people are least likely to hang up on" when telephone callers to a switchboard were put on hold.

The reason for this, according to Helen Reddington, lecturer in commercial music at the University of Westminster, is simple: "The Beatles are a Shakespeare for the 20th century. Their appeal spans generations and their lyrics are as accessible today as they were 30 years ago to a different generation."

The Music of the Millennium survey, which took nearly a year to complete, was conducted by HMV and Channel 4 Television in association with Classic FM.

The Beatles polled more than 20 per cent of the vote in the Best Band of All Time section, 15 per cent more than Queen, who came second.

Sergeant Pepper won the Best Album category with 4.6 per cent of the vote, more than twice as much as Michael Jackson's Thriller, which came second. Elvis Presley had six entries in the total list of 110, while the Beatles had five and Michael Jackson four.

More than 55 per cent of the shortlisted albums were released in the past 10 years, but the Seventies proved a more popular decade than the Eighties, polling 18 per cent of the entries compared with 11 per cent for the subsequent decade.

The vote for Most Influential Musician was slightly more eclectic, with two classical composers, Mozart and Bach, making it into the top 10, along with American icons Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. At number five was Paul McCartney.

Robbie Williams was the only Nineties artist in the top 10, a success due at least in part to the popularity of his single "Angels", number three in the best song category. John Lennon and Paul McCartney took the top two positions for Best Songwriter, with Bob Dylan at number three.

Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" knocked the Beatles off the top spot in the Best Song category, but the Liverpool quartet managed nine songs in the top 110, followed by Elvis with eight and five from Oasis.

There were more than twice as many songs from the Nineties as the Sixties in the full list, and again the Eighties produced fewer hits than the Seventies.

Louis Armstrong was voted Best Jazz Musician with the highest ranked Brit, Courtney Pine, coming only 11th.

British women featured poorly in the Best Female Singer category, with Americans taking the top seven positions in the poll, which was topped by Madonna.

Vivaldi's Four Seasons won the Best Piece of Classical Music category. Beethoven had three entries in the top 10 and Mozart scored the highest number of entries in the list of 111.

The full results of the poll will be revealed on Channel 4, from 9pm on November 13.

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