On February 9, 1964, history was made when The Beatles’ first U.S. appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show garnered record-breaking numbers. A whopping 72 million viewers tuned in to see John, Paul, George and Ringo sing their hits “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “All My Loving” on the TV variety show. Five decades after Beatlemania first invaded the U.S., the legendary Fab Four were honored with The Night That Changed America: The Grammys Salute to the Beatles, which aired last night on CBS. The 50th anniversary special boasted tributes from music’s greats as well as a nostalgic look back at the history-making performance. Since that fateful night 50 years ago, to say the Beatles have made a lifelong impact in the entertainment industry is an understatement. Their work has spawned films, numerous renditions of their songs and bands inspired by the musical icons. Even though they aren’t a band anymore, the Beatles’ influence continues to manifest itself in popular culture today.
Here are 7 ways the Beatles have influenced pop culture:
1. The Wonder Years Theme Song
The 1980s family drama’s theme song may have been sung by the husky-voiced Joe Cocker, but it was the Beatles lyrics to “A Little Help From My Friends” that opened every episode.
2. Life Goes On Theme Song
What is it with ’80s TV shows and the Beatles? Corky and the gang sang the Fab Four’s “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” for the ABC show’s opening version song.
3. The Voice of Wakko from Animaniacs
If Wakko Warner’s voice sounds strikingly similar to a certain Beatle, you aren’t wrong: Wakko’s voice was modeled after Ringo Starr’s! It was originally supposed to be modeled after John Lennon’s voice, but voice actor Jess Harnell saw that Wakko was “a little guy” so he raised the pitch and it became more Ringo-sounding.
4. That Thing You Do!
The 1996 Tom Hanks-produced film about a fictional band made many indirect references to the Beatles’ career – and a catchy Beatles-esque tune of the same name.
5. Across the Universe
The 2007 film was not only a visual masterpiece – it brought to life some of the Fab Four’s biggest hits in the form of a musical love story starring Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood. (This is also where we found out Evan can really SING!)
6. Glee‘s Beatles Episodes
The hit FOX TV show about a high school glee club not only devoted one whole episode to the works of the band, it made it TWO! Who didn’t shed a tear as Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry sang a heartbreaking version of “Yesterday”or become nostalgic when Kurt Hummel longingly sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to his high school crush?
7. One Direction
It can be argued that without the Beatles, current boy bands such as fellow Brits One Direction, may not exist. The Beatles were the original One Direction, ‘NSYNC, New Kids on the Block, etc. and many attribute the latter bands’ success to the Fab Four.
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