The hubbub surrounding the Fab Four’s arrival in the U.S. 50 years ago had these pop-star youngsters rewatching some archival footage — and that’s when it hit them: “We all sat and watched the film of the Beatles arriving in America,” the intrepid Styles tells NME. “And, to be honest, that really was like us. Stepping off the plane, the girls, the madness. It was exactly the same as when we got there — just 50 years earlier.”
To be fair, One Direction became the first group to ever have each of its first three albums debut at the top spot. But the sales figures — even taking into account that modern numbers are now skewed by Billboard’s decision to include streaming data and even viral hits — simply don’t compare.
The Beatles 1964 Capitol Records debut in the U.S., ‘Meet the Beatles,’ has sold 5 million copies. ‘The Beatles Second Album’ went double platinum, while ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ has moved 4 million copies. Compare those 11 million in total sales to One Direction — which has sold just 4.8 million total for its initial three albums. That’s some 200,000 less than the Beatles’ stateside debut, all by itself.
And that, of course, is to say nothing of their impact musically.
Perhaps sensing the looming backlash, Styles added a small caveat: “But none of us think we’re in the same league as them music-wise. We’d be total fools if we did. Fame-wise, it’s probably even bigger, but we don’t stand anywhere near them in terms of music.”
Besides, if you want to start comparing yourself to far more famous figures in history, take yet another page from the Beatles — and aim higher: Much higher.