Is The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ really the greatest album of all time? These kids certainly do not think so

It used to be a truth universally acknowledged that The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ – which turned 50 this month – is one of the best, if not the best, albums of all time. But is it really, or is it just a load of old hippy tosh? Leonie Cooper tries out the ultimate classic album on some fresh ears and lets a bunch of kids decide whether it’s the perfect record – or actually kind of ‘meh’…

Duke, four

What’s your favourite music?

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Duke: “The Fire Song.” [Duke’s mum tells us he’s a big fan of Ibibio Sound System’s ‘The Pot Is On Fire’, which Duke then plays us]

When do you think the Beatles’ music is from?

Duke: “I don’t know.”

Does it sound like it’s from a long time ago?

Duke: “Yeah.”

Can you play ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ on your guitar?

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Duke: “Yeah!”

When you grow up are you going to be in a band?

Duke: “I’m going to play music by myself.”

Will you write better songs than The Beatles?

Duke: “Yes.”

Are any of these Beatles songs as good as ‘The Fire Song’?

Duke: “‘The Fire Song’ is better.”

Are these the best songs you’ve ever heard or are they silly?

Duke: “They’re silly. They’re for adults.”

VERDICT: ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ is not the greatest album of all time.

Mika, four

Who’s your favourite Beatle?

[Mika points to Ringo]

He’s called Ringo…

Mika: “Ringo?”

Mika’s dad: “What does Ringo mean in Japanese?”

Mika: ‘Apple!”

What do you like about him?

Mika: “Pink.”

This song’s called ‘Fixing A Hole’ – do you like it?

[Mika gets a spade and starts digging holes in the garden]

Excellent work, Mika! How about ‘She’s Leaving Home’?

[Mika chases a cat] “Cleo! Cleo! I just gave Cleo three cat treats.”

Brilliant – do you think Cleo likes this music?

Mika: “Cleo! Maybe she’ll come if we blow bubbles?”

So are The Beatles the best musicians in the world – or is that Bruno Mars?

Mika: “Bruno.”

Do you think The Beatles are good or a bit rubbish?

Mika: “They’re a bit rubbish, but the ‘Hole’ song is not.”

VERDICT: ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ is not the greatest album of all time.

Aurora, 10, and Kasia, 13

What kind of music do you normally listen to?

Aurora: “She’s a big fan of Ariana Grande.”
Kasia: “I like lively pop.”
Aurora: “I like jumpy songs.”

Hmm – not sure how The Beatles will fit in with that. What do you make of the cover picture?

Kasia: “It looks tropical.”
Aurora: “It looks kind of creepy because of this guy.” [Points to very dead comic actor Oliver Hardy]

How about The Beatles themselves – what do you think of their shiny suits?

Kasia: “They look a bit like formal Power Rangers.”

What about Paul McCartney with his moustache?

Aurora: “I really like the McCartney people – they have really awesome food – I’m a vegetarian. Love it.”

Are any of the band handsome?

Aurora: “Not particularly.”

Now for some music… the first track has got the same name as the album.

Aurora: “I imagine a comedy act dancing to it.”
Kasia: “It’s quite strange, because at first it’s really rock-y and roll-y but you can hear the background laughs, like at a comedy show. That didn’t really fit in. But it’s kind of nice.”

How about ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’?

Aurora: “My music teacher makes us listen to this! He makes us listen to really weird stuff, like the blues.”
Kasia: “It sounds like that Toy Story song about friends, but it’s much slower.”
Aurora: “There’s been nothing really horrible yet.”

You’re coping well, girls. This one is called ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’.

Kasia: “Hmm, it’s a bit weird. Too many dynamic changes.”
Aurora: ‘Oh, it’s my favourite one so far. It has a nice beat.”

What do you think it’s about?

Aurora: “Lucy died. That’s why she’s in the sky. She’s gone to heaven and someone’s sad about it. I could make a really good dance to this song.”

Wow – I’ve never thought of it like that. Thoughts on ‘Fixing A Hole’?

Kasia: “It’s too slow. There’s nothing bad about it, but there’s nothing good about it either.”

How about ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’?

Kasia: “It’s like you’re in the funfair.”
Aurora: “It’s creepy, but in a good way.”

‘Within You Without You’ is different – do you like that?

Kasia and Aurora: “No!”
Aurora: “It’s like a pancake that’s flopped.”
Kasia: “It’s a bit of a bore. It doesn’t fit with the other songs.”
Aurora: “You know that one song that’s skipped on an album? This would be that song.”

And ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’?

Aurora: “I heard that at my grandmother’s 64th birthday. It’s the kind of song that you’d hire a girl to dance to it.”

This one’s ‘Lovely Rita’ – it’s about a parking warden.

Kasia: “Don’t like it. It doesn’t really have a very catchy tune.”
Aurora: “I think people back in the day would have liked it, but, nah.”

So do you think this is the greatest album of all time?

Aurora: “I never listen to a whole album! I just search for songs on YouTube. I don’t think I’d listen to any of these songs at home. I’m into them, but I wouldn’t take my time to go and search them out.”
Kasia: “‘Yellow Submarine’ is way better than all of these. I feel like this is the beginning of their career when they didn’t really know what they were doing. I wouldn’t pay money for it.”
Aurora: “Yeah, it’s kind of all over the place. They certainly were amazing musicians, but times have changed.”

VERDICT: ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ is not the greatest album of all time.

‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [50th Anniversary Stereo Edition]’ by The Beatles is out now, and in spite of what the kids think, it is excellent.

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