Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beatlemania vs. Pottermania

A few months ago, I had a conversation with an ELA student teacher:

He said, “I read the first few books but didn’t get why the series was so popular until I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
I said, “It felt like that listening to The Beatles. Their early works were good and I could see the appeal, but they didn’t start showing what they were capable of until Revolver.”
He nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, Goblet of Fire is like Revolver!”
“And Order of the Phoenix is like Sergeant Pepper! And Half Blood Prince is like The White Album!”
“Wait. Which album came out first?”
“I don’t know. I guess that makes The Deathly Hallows like Abbey Road.”

Okay, we got a little carried away.

It got me thinking, How else are the Harry Potter books and The Beatles alike and how are they different? Alas, this informative post. I’d argue our two British imports have more in common than you’d think.

How do you reconcile The Beatles having 4 members while Harry and friends only make 3?
True the numbers seem off, but if you throw in Neville, who’s key a couple of times, I think you see the similarities. I would’ve said, Ginny but then I’d have to count the twins and it would muddle this up. So, Neville is Ringo.

How can you compare the Beatles to a literary trio that doesn’t sing?
Also true that Harry, Ron, and Hermione don’t sing, but let’s not discount the warblings of Celestina Warbeck. And the movie theme music is pretty kickass.

Who is Harry’s Yoko?
Not Ginny. No way. She’s so cool and un-Yoko, it’s not even funny. Don’t hit me, but I might have to say Dobby. He does muck things up in Book 2. And that whole boring S.P.E.W. side plot in Book 4 is really annoying, but that’s Hermione’s fault. I’ll have to go with Colin Creevey. I know, he doesn’t actually break them up or anything, but he’s annoying. (Though maybe he’s more like Oliver in The Brady Bunch. Wait, how did The Brady Bunch even factor into this?)
Maybe since Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione were all important characters, it avoided a touchy Yoko situation. The only way a Yoko-type could interfere with the trio is if Harry fell in love with a Death Eater. Or imagine if he hooked up with Bella from Twilight? Her whining and lack of ambition would ruin everything.

If The Beatles did drugs and Harry Potter books are drug-free, how can you compare the two?
I agree there are no hardcore drugs, but don’t forget a few odd items floating around: butterbeer, love potions hidden in chocolates, filex felicis, polyjuice potion, and didn’t Ron get poisoned and need to take a Bezoar?
And don’t forget Hagrid had a periodic problem with alcohol consumption as evidenced by winning an illegal dragon and passing out after Aragog’s funeral.

Do The Beatles have antagonists like Harry and Co.?
Absolutely. While there aren’t clear villains like Lucius and Draco Malfoy, The Dark Lord/He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named/Voldemort, and Is he/Isn’t he? Snape - The Rolling Stones were some fierce competition for The Beatles. And more recently, the band Public Enemy sampled “A Day in the Life” and “Getting Better” by The Beatles in their song, “Who Stole the Soul?” Sounds like Dementors are involved.

What about movies?
Good question. The Beatles made 5 movies, if you don’t count side projects. There are 8 Harry Potter movies, which is genius when you consider there are only 7 books. And just like The Beatles’ music is better than their movies, the Harry Potter books are better than their movies. (But the movies are pretty darn close.)

Do Harry and Ron excite female fans as much as John and Paul?
Umm… yeah! Neville got cute over time. See, he is Ringo. Or maybe he’s George Harrison. I secretly think George was the cutest. George looks a little like Sirius. Now I’m confusing myself. And if I think about the fact that there are two people named George, I’ll be even more lost. I love those Weasley twins.

Does being British play a role here?
Absolutely. The British have been known to invade the United States ever since 1776. However, the British Invasion in the 1960s was most welcome. And I like this Harry Potter import too.
And don't forget those sexy British accents!

What are their respective career lengths?
The Beatles released their first album in 1963 and their last in 1970 – 7 years. The Harry Potter series spanned from 1997-2007 – 10 years. Of course, both have continued on past their recordings/publications.

Were The Beatles or Harry Potter more productive?
In the 7 years, The Beatles released 12 albums in the UK. In the 10 years, J.K. Rowling published 7 books. But I’d argue Rowling’s books had more words than The Beatles’s songs. You can’t argue they were both prolific.

Is Pottermore akin to former Beatles’ solo albums?

Will both The Beatles and Harry Potter have long legacies?
The Beatles have already proven their longevity. As for Harry Potter, I have no doubt my grandchildren will read these books too.

How about you?
Spot any uncanny similarities between
The Beatles and Harry Potter?

If you tolerated loved this post, please scroll down to my PREVIOUS POST "Reverence for Rowling".

Think Hermione is the unsung hero of Harry and co? Me too. Read this SPOT-ON POST. (If you can handle the f-word.)

Please return on 07/28 for my interview at Michelle’s BLOG.

Happy weekend! xo


  1. This is great! I'm glad you took the time to make the comparisons, because I had so much fun reading this post :) One thing....pleeeeeease don't compare Neville to Ringo--I like Neville too much to do that to him :) (JK, sorry Ringo)

  2. I totally see the comparisons and resemblence!! Especially with HP's haircut and early Beatles! LOL!!

    Take care

  3. Another great post! LOL! Great comparisons and really funny! :)

    I've read the post about Hermione being the unsung hero of HP films. I'm halfway reading Deathly Hallows and the author of the blogpost has got a point, haha!

  4. Hmmm this is an interesting comparison but I think I'm going to have to disagree. See...I don't think that Jo Rowling is a genius and John Lennon was. J.K.'s books (though good) presented in my opinion no original themes. I'd seen all of this stuff in fantasy before and she just put it all together in a wizard school. There are many things that actually seemed predictable to me and rather cliche but she's made a billion dollars. I think that if she hadn't made billions of dollars...there wouldn't be the need to draw this comparison which opens up another train of something that generates a lot of money, genius?

    Well the pet rock made a lot of money in its day...not genius. So I'm going to Just because something is a huge money bag does not make it a work of genius.

    I consider the death of John Lennon the greatest crime in music history...period. If J.K. Rowling died...Y.A. would still be pumped out by grubbing publishers would still be money grubbing... John Lennon's music was completely original and were about peace and love in tumultuous times.

    Rowling's book is just good vs. evil that we've seen a million times before, repackaged, and sold. Her only contribution seems to be to have so much power that she changes how publishers react to her because they are jealous of her money.

  5. Spotting similarities between The Beatles and Harry Potter would mean I would have to know more about The Beatles than I already do.

    Now if you want me to compare Harry Potter to Beethoven symphonies, I'm game.

  6. In Professor Snape's class the crush op beatles into a fine powder for their potions.

  7. @ Jess, sorry! I only compared Neville to Ringo because the trio works well without him most of the time. Really, he looks more like George!

    @ Old Kitty, I didn't even think of hair. You're so right!

    @ Len, by the end of 7, it's almost all about Harry. But I think the point of the books is that Harry needs all the other people. It's not about being the lone hero. Hermione is waaay more awesome than Ron.

    @ Michael, them's fighting words.

    The Beatles have been accused of ripping off African American music and Elvis. They didn't create instruments. They built on what was there before. And they played around with copying sounds like country. And their later genius was aided by drugs. While I don't think drugs made incredible music, I don't think many of their later songs' trippy vibes that would've existed without the influence of LSD.

    And they worked together to make genius. Most of what any of The Beatles did solo was pretty pedestrian - including John Lennon.

    JK did her writing alone and (as far as I can tell) drug-free.

    Both Rowling and The Beatles became rich because they did something unique. Rowling may have used themes present in literature, but there is much about her world that's unique. Her plots are her own as well. She also added a whimsy that wasn't present in children's fantasy. Most of it was downright depressing. By the end of the series, her theme of love and sacrifice is so powerful - something kids don't hear many places.

    John Lennon died. Music continued - some good, some bad. Same with YA.

    I think you're taking this too seriously. I'm surprised!

    @ Angela, feel free to add your knowledge about Beethoven symphonies and Harry Potter!

    @ Stephen, crushing up beatles - Excellent!

  8. Ha! Love the comparisons!
    And I of course love Harry Potter and the Beatles...
    But Neville became much cuter than Ringo ever did. He turned into a hottie!

  9. Posting this comment because Theresa and I have been having a little discussion via email:

    This is my response to her response ==>

    lol all right. But you seriously consider her on the same level as John Lennon? I know you love her books. But that just seems to me to be a strange comparison. I'm tempted to say, "why stop there?" With as many people that seem to "worship" the ground she walks on, why not just start a church for her and call her a goddess?

    I'm an atheist so it wouldn't matter to me. But I could see some people attending the church of Rowling and carrying around Harry Potter like a bible.

    But even if a billion people told me that she was a goddess I wouldn't see the connection. I would see a woman there that wrote good books. I guess I'm just unable to understand why you guys put her on such a pedestal when she's just an uber successful entrepreneur.

    For the record...I don't think Donald Trump is a genius either and he's a billionaire too.

    If J.K. had died prior to finishing the series, Scholastic would have just hired someone else to finish it out (a ghost writer) and it would have sold just as much.

    You cannot do this with John Lennon.

  10. As a further thought on this fascinating topic, I'm not saying that I don't think that what J.K. has managed to accomplish is anything less than astounding. It's awe-inspiring. But why can't she just be J.K. Rowling? Why does there need to be a comparison to others? I think that she is her own titan and really there is no comparison that can be effectively drawn to Einstein or to John Lennon or to Mozart, etc. She is the most profitable author to have ever lived and anyone that counts receipts will look to her to study what happened in an attempt to repeat that money-making machine.

  11. @ Kelly, Neville did get cute. That's why I compared him to George... sort of.

    @ Michael, you posted here!

    Here was my e-mail response to him:

    I was having a bit of fun from that conversation. I am comparing fictional characters to real-life musical geniuses. (Well, not Ringo.) I'm giving Rowling credit for getting boys reading, getting adults to read children's books on their own, creating a generation of fantasy writers, and making fantasy way more fun and important.

    But she's not the only excellent writer in town. There are more books and authors in the world than there are musicians who are part of record labels. (Do they still use the word "record"?)

    If I wanted to make an argument about inspiring people to dress in costume, I would compare JK Rowling to Kiss. That would be a bizarre post.

    Gaiman, King, and a host of other writers are brilliant. JK Rowling is one of many who impress me.

    And to respond to the last comment/e-mail, it was fun to compare. Both made huge impact here and their influence reached beyond their music/stories. Obviously they're two different beasts, even if they are all British.

    You're harping on money. I'm sure JK Rowling didn't go into it saying, "I'm going to be the richest woman in England besides the queen." I'm thinking more about reach, influence, and longevity. And fun!

  12. Okay fine. I'll stop digressing and admit that your comparison is pretty spot on. Yes, the Beatles have antagonists. They both resulted in profitable movies (HP blows the Beatles away in this respect), Harry and Ron excite female fans aplenty, British definitely plays a role because the U.S.A. loves the Brits (royalty and all that) and vice-versa. Honestly, the Brits would follow us off a cliff if we were to go off a cliff. They are and always have been our closest ally.

    So yes...your comparison is incredibly accurate. I just spilled my morning coffee when I read your post this morning because all I'm seeing online is how people are so in love with her world that they are weeping and wailing. In the movie I saw, people clapped when Neville killed the snake with the sword. One woman said, "I never saw that coming," and then squeee'd. I wanted to say..."really? You didn't see that the snake was going to be beheaded? As soon as I saw Neville draw the sword from the hat I thought...he's going to kill the snake with that. Meh."

    I got my money's worth from the movie. I liked it. But you know...if someone writes a post on the blogosphere comparing Rowling to Jesus I'm going to post there too and say, "I just don't think that she can walk on water like you say she can."

  13. Fun post! I'm a huge fan of both Harry Potter and the Beatles.

  14. I would have never compared the two! Fun post. I am a HP fan.

  15. This is awesome! I love that you compared Yoko to Dobby. Cracked me up. :P

  16. @ Michael, Didn't see the beheading coming? HA!

    Ooo, a Jesus comparison. I'm Jewish, but I think I can come up with something. Though Harry and Co. do not seem to be Jewish, the boys are all old enough to grow beards now.

    The New Testament and the Harry Potter series? Hmmm.

    Now I'm going to make people really angry.

    @ Nicole, I am too. But I'm going to make hardcore fans of The Beatles a bit miffed.

    @ Shari, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    @ Alleged Author, I just saw a Harry Potter spoof that uses a chihuahua for Dobby. I'll never see Dobby without thinking of him as a tiny dog!

  17. You know, I hadn't compared them until now. Lol

  18. Theresa you are unbelievably awesome and funny too. /hug

  19. Wow! Amazing comparisons. (I love getting carried away like that with a fellow enthusiast!)

  20. I never thought about comparing the two, but you're right. And some of the similarities are very strong. Good job on your research! I bet this one took a while.

  21. Fun post! It's always awesome when something that starts good only gets better. Nothing is worse than reading the first book in a series, having high hopes for it, and then watching it slowly fizzle as the story continues.

  22. I love both and I thought this was a lot of fun. Any two entities that inspire such rabid loyalty and devotion from their fans are ripe for comparison.

  23. LOL. I would never have made a connection between HP and the Beatles!

    Great post. :)

  24. This was hilarious! I like you you were your own devil's advocate here posing deconstructing questions. What suprised me most though is the Beatles only released albums for 7 years. The effect of those 7 years is astounding; that's a great comparison to the Harry Potter franchise which has similarly revolutionized modern publishing, esp in regards to adults reading "kids" books. It helped pushed MG/YA to where it is now.

  25. What a wonderful analogy and the best post I've read about the Harry Potter phenomenon!

  26. @ Miranda, it's amazing what you can come up with for a post on a hot, humid summer day!

    @ Michael, this was a fun debate. I may be Pottered out too.

    @ Bossy Betty, it was an entertaining conversation. I forgot all about it until yesterday.

    @ Emily, this post took less time than you'd think. You know when you hit the jackpot when doing research? When I typed in "Beatles" and "Enemies" on Google and found the Pubic Enemy link, that was a thrilling moment.

    @ KM Weiland, I agree. I've abandoned or been disappointed by several series. Each one makes the Harry Potter series look better and better.

    @ Julie, they are both icons. But I don't think many huge fans of The Beatles are going to appreciate this post, especially if they don't love Harry Potter too.

    @ The Golden Eagle, I wonder what other comparisons we can find. Maybe I should let it die with this post!

    @ Stephsco, I'm glad you caught on that I was both the questioner and answerer. I particularly liked when I complimented my own question.

    Those 7 years are impressive! Did you read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers? He talks about The Beatles's time in a strip club in Holland as what contributed to them being so successful. Apparently, you have to do something for 10k hours to get good at it. Playing night after night helped them get there.

    @ Christina, thank you!

    @ Michelle, thanks for such a nice compliment.

  27. Loved that Hermione post, glad you're sharing it with your followers, but I totally ROFL'd at this:

    The British have been known to invade the United States ever since 1776.

    Delivery was spot-on, there, thanks for the laugh, Theresa!

  28. I love this, Theresa! I do see a Neville/Ringo resemblance... though I really like Neville, so I kinda agree that he'd be more like George, who was way cuter. Laughed at the Yoko bit. She's a wreck. I like the Bella from Twilight comparison.

    Thanks for the entertaining post, how creative!

  29. Love it!!! :) You had me laughing out loud when the Brady Bunch popped in :)

  30. I'm not going to add to your comparisons, but I would like to argue that the first and third Harry Potters were 2 of my favorites, so I don't think it took as long as all that for her to hit her stride :)

  31. I haven't said this in a long time, but ROTF,LMAO. Brilliant post, Theresa! I'm going to link to it tomorrow :-)

  32. Dobby was in Prisoner of Azkaban? I remember he was a big part of two and seven. And he popped up a few times during Hermione's S.P.E.W. period. I don't remember him in three. -frets-

    Colin Creevey was always one of my favorites, even if he was annoying. I was sad when he was killed off. At least they showed him during the movie.

  33. I don't know much about the Beatles, but I used to be obsessed with the Harry Potter series. I read all the books (though I couldn't reread them), but I think I only saw the first three or four movies. I'd like to see the last one, though.
    Have you seen the Lifetime movie based on J.K. Rowling's early years? It's pretty interesting; it includes pieces from her life that supposedly inspired the series, like how her childhood friend was supposedly the inspiration for Ron Weasley.

  34. @ Tere, I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    We've always had this special link with England from our history, I think.

    @ Shelley, I think Neville started out like Ringo and then turned into George. But as far as his importance, he's more like Ringo. Every once in a while he came up with something good, like "Octopus's Garden". Everyone once in a while, Neville has his moment too.

    @ Jemi, The Brady Bunch surprised me too! ; )

    @ Susanna, I can't argue that the first one was great. It set up the whole world. But books 5 and 7 were my favorite. Though 7 had plenty of slow periods, it made up for it with the whole Hogwarts bit.

    @ Deniz, thanks! You're awesome. I'll check out the link.

    @ Brooke, aaack! I meant 2 - The Chamber of Secrets. As soon as I finish responding to the comment, I'll edit it. Thanks for pointing it out!

    Colin did have his moment in 7. But he drove me crazy in the earlier book. Was that 4? You're the expert!

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, I didn't see the Lifetime movie. Did you see the documentary of the first movie? You should! That's always floating around cable.

  35. Hmm. I don't really like the Beatles and... I'm not a massive HP fan! Shhh, I've probably just lost some followers!:)

  36. I Loooove this post, Theresa! But you already know that because I am like the biggest Potter fan ever. I happen to like the Beatles too so it's a double whammy for me! Thanks for mentioning me in your most recent post. It's amazing what JK Rowling has done for our writing, isn't it?
    Here's hoping we can be half as successful as she is.Have an awesome weekend!

  37. I hate Ginny! Hate Ginny with a passion!

    And she's in no way Yoko - I'd never insult my yellow sister by calling her Ginny. Stupid Ginny.

    Hate Ginny!

  38. I like Hermione and Emma Watson. Does that count?

    Happy Weekend!

  39. Y'all are crazy. Crazy fun! Loved this analysis. Dobby needs to get more credit for the popularity of the books and movies. I liked him.

  40. This is so clever! Great job, Theresa.

  41. Confession: I've only read one Harry Potter book (the second one, I think) and saw one movie (not sure which one). And I really liked them so I don't know why I didn't persist.

  42. Hi Theresa .. I'd have never thought about comparing the Beatles to HP - but that's what teachers are for .. giving us new ideas! So interesting .. cheers Hilary

  43. Certainly never thought of this comparison. Then again, I didn't become a Beatles fan until they started getting recognized for making more serious music. Maybe I'll be a latecomer to the Potter craze as well.

    Tossing It Out

  44. I love HP and I am a HUGE Beatles fan. I think your most apt comparison is to the way the HP series developed and became more deep, dark and complex over the 7 books. It is similar to the way that The Beatles changed over the years, exploring and doing new, more deep and complex things with their music.

    Though I would say that Rubber Soul and Revolver are like GoF and OotP is like Sgt. Pepper's. I guess that would make the White album and Let it Be like HBP and Abbey Road like DH. I have to say that I think both Abbey Road and DH were perfect endings.

    (And yes I know Abbey Road was released before Let it Be but I don't care about the release date. I consider Abbey Road last because it was produced last. It was their final effort together as musicians and it was genius.)

  45. Wouldn't you know, I pop back in and you totally lost me. :) I'm not a Beatles fan either. The comparisons however, made me laugh. :D
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  46. All these similarities are great. I haven't heard of it like this before, but the more I think about it. It sounds good.

  47. You are SO on to something. Is Beedle the Bard mere coincidence? I think not. And what was that Rita Skeeter turned into...hmmm?

  48. I have, of course, heard of The Beatles before, I aside from that, I didn't really know anything about them. Reading these comparisons are so interesting; I've learned loads!

  49. I prefer HP to the Beatles...but I enjoyed this fun post. :)

    I'm sad even the movies are over. *sobs*


  50. BRILLIANT. Comparing The Beatles to Harry Potter? Sheer genius.

    I finally saw the last movie yesterday. Sigh... it was bittersweet.

  51. lol, you had fun with this post. Hehehe. I'm impressed by how much you know about the Beatles too.

  52. @ Talli, I know, among some circles you can't mention you don't like certain books and bands.

    @ Nutschell, JK Rowling influenced a generation of writers and readers! I'm sorry to see it end. At least my cool Deathly Hallows necklace arrived today.

    @ Sophia, we have to agree to disagree. Why was Yoko hanging around the studio? I don't run to my husband's lab everyday, while he explains to his boss that I need to be there. I'm no Yoko!

    Ginny had a cool attitude and she was a fierce Quidditch player. It's Rowling's fault she didn't get more page time!

    @ Carol, I love them too. It's not really a Potter-Beatles comparison, but worth mentioning.

    @ Helen, I'm conflicted about Dobby. Sometimes I think he's cute, but other times I think he's too much like Jar Jar. Okay, he's not THAT bad.

    @ Julie, thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. I had fun writing the post.

    @ Missed Periods, I think it's worth reading if you ever want to write fiction. By the end of 7, I was stunned by Rowling's genius.

    @ Hilary, some The Beatles fans don't like the comparison, but I thought it was all in good fun.

    @ Arlee, I think you'd enjoy the Potter books. There's a sophistication to the series, especially by the last book that really impressed me.

    @ Sarah, prefer to compare 7 with Abbey Road instead of Let it Be too. Not only was it recorded last, but it felt more like a culmination of their career.

    Maybe someone should write a dissertation comparing these two bodies of work.

    @ Jules, I'm glad you got a laugh out of the post.

  53. I enjoyed these comparisons. The Beatles is one of my favorite bands. And even though I've only read the first two books, I adore HP.

  54. You had me cracking up over the Yoko Ono comparions!!

    I wonder what will be the next big British thing?

  55. @ Regina, I'm happy you like the connections.

    @ Nicki, wonderful connections. Why didn't I see Beedle the Bard earlier? Brooke had pointed out Rita Skeeter as well. And I think Stephen recalled the crushed beetles in potions class. I missed all three! Shameful.

    @ Emy, I'm glad I could educate you!

    @ Lola, I'm sad too. Hugs back!

    @ Jennifer, I wonder if anything as amazing will fill the vacuum. Probably not for a while.

    @ Lynda, I hung out with two very Beatles-obsessed guys in high school.

    @ The Tame Lion, thanks!

    @ Medeia, you should read the other ones. I'm sure you'd enjoy them.

    Your book finally arrived at my local bookstore. I just picked it up today.

    @ Margo, glad you got a laugh out of the post.

    I hope the next big British thing is in books.

  56. Excellent points. I never considered it before but Harry Potter and the Beatles are definitely similar.

    And I would agree that George Harrison was the hottest of the Beatles BY FAR. I could never get over John Lennon's whinyness to think him attractive and Paul McCartney looked like a baby. Turned me off. Ringo was cute because he was always cracking jokes.


  57. @ Jai, there was definitely a magic The Beatles had together that they didn't have separately. George Harrison was the hottest. Ringo did have his own thing going!

  58. You are too funny! This is the type of post I would write if I stayed up too late to do it. :) I'm always funnier at night.

  59. @ Janet, I'm always funniest in the shower. Go figure.

  60. I love this post! The comparisons are very entertaining. And the Yoko comparisons are priceless.

  61. @ Susan, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It was fun to write!