Skip to main content
What is it that makes the "old" ones so attractive when there is a lot of new – and good – music being created? |  Photo: Universal
What is it that makes the "old" ones so attractive when there is a lot of new – and good – music being created? | Photo: Universal
Jiří V. Matýsek -

When Dinosaurs Take Over the Charts

If someone woke up from a long sleep and went to check out their favourite music shop these days, they'd probably have to pinch themselves thoroughly a few times to see if it was real or if they were dreaming. After all, it was hard to imagine until recently that a new album by The Rolling Stones and a new single by The Beatles would be lying on the counter side by side. And then, looking at the sales charts, such a long sleeper would be surprised again to see that the old bards demolish musicians several generations younger.

It is, in principle, a nice curiosity that new material from two (one-time) rivals has just met in the shops in 2023. It is nothing new that at certain moments "old age rules". Every time there's a new release from one of the musicians of the older generation, you can tell in the charts. Just think of the past years with new releases from AC/DC or Ozzy Osbourne.

But who's listening to that?

What is it that makes the "old" bands attractive when there is so much new – and good – music being created? It could very easily be blamed on nostalgia. But is the 55+ group so large that they would buy up that many albums by the bands of their youth that the results would show up in the charts? It doesn't seem likely, especially with streaming services influencing the numbers so much these days. Therefore, logically, these albums are bought and listened to by fans across generations.

I think the key factor is that these bands as such are brands in a way. Similarly, as you know you're not going to have a bad experience with a Technics gramophone and Converse sneakers, there's a pretty slim chance you'll get your fingers burned with the new Beatles, AC/DC or Stones (though the truth is that it has not been expected that their Hackney Diamonds would be considered one of the albums of the year globally).

The certainty of proven values, handiwork and nostalgia

It's just another return to the certainties that is one of the leitmotifs of the modern hectic age. Deuce take what one considers to be those certainties, and more importantly, what or who is their bearer for each individual. It is a fairly normal psychological process that we reach for what we know rather than try uncertain things. And often just an iconic label is enough.

Another reason may surely be that these bands embody a kind of "honest handiwork". And that's very appealing to a lot of people in the digital and virtual age. It's nothing more than an extension of the phenomenon of buying vinyl records, paper storybooks and Lego sets. As much as we can't touch the music, at least we feel that someone has "mined" it from real instruments, not just from the recesses of a processor and the zeros and ones it produces.

When all this is added up, the choice is clear. The usual shaky and nostalgic argument that "the music was better back then" can be left aside. Different maybe, but better? It's hard to say.

Tagy short essay The Beatles The Rolling Stones

If you have found an error or typo in the article, please let us know by e-mail

Jiří V. Matýsek
Freelance music journalist and copywriter