Judge John Hodgman Episode 30: Ob-Law-Di, Ob-Law-Da


Pat and Joe come before the court with a case about that famous rock band, The Beatles. Pat claims that The White Album is one of The Beatles' worst albums and has a scattered approach. Joe argues that the album benefits from its variance and is one of their best works. Who is correct?

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Favorite song...

The Beatles didn't even write 'Twist and Shout.' What an asshole.



Disjointed is not necessarily bad-

"Pet Sounds" and "Smile" are both very disjointed albums but are also easily the two best Beach Boys albums. There is no reason why "The Beatles" should be considered the "Least Good" because it is disjointed. I find that argument weak.

Problem with the docket

Enjoyed this show, as usual, but I was a bit dismayed by one of Judge Hodgman's ruling during the docket phase of the show. On the subject of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" and the bass boost button, his Honor quickly ruled in favor of "listener's choice". While I can appreciate the spirit of this ruling (I have heard far too many specious arguments about how analog is superior to digital sound), I think this question requires a bit more reflection. I would like to offer the following counter-example:

Suppose I have a friend who insists on watching her television with the contrast cranked all the way up (perhaps with a "contrast boost" option), such that the whites becoming blaring and the blacks so deep that they obscure the subtle details in the image.

Judge Hodgman's ruling, which for this case would be "viewer's choice", should presumably apply here, and yet I think this example brings out some of the intuitive absurdity of the relativist position. Yes, we are all free to use and abuse arts and entertainment technology as we like, but it nevertheless strikes me that the ultra-high-contrast viewer is, at best, odd and at worst, seriously diminishing the artistic experience.

In the first place, the television and film producers went to great pains to construct and distribute the images in a particular way, and a viewer's choice to distort that image does something of a disservice to that work. In much the same way, musicians and audio producers (often) take great care in equalizing and mastering material to sound a specific way. While we might all have an individual preference about how we want music to sound, excessive equalization only obscures the qualities of their work.

Second, the bass boost function, as the original writer pointed out, is indeed specifically there to compensate for listening at low volume (when bass frequencies are subjectively quieter). Using the bass boost at high volumes, while it may sound interesting and rattle the walls, is, in some strict sense, an abuse of the sonic equipment. To cite the Judge's first case: Hand soap can be placed in a dish soap dispenser. Yet this is not truly its function.


As you so clearly pointed out,Joe did a dismal job of defending The Beatles (White Album). All Joe needed to do was name all the great songs on the album... Back in the USSR, Dear Prudence, Glass Onion,While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, I Will, Julia, Birthday, Sexy Sadie, Helter Skelter, Revolution 1, and Good Night.
Yes, there was also plenty of crap but c'mon man, these wonderful songs easily put the album in their top 5!
'nuff said
-Uncle Velvet

The White Album is Amazing

It's ridiculous to assume otherwise. What was with the poo-pooing of "Long, Long, Long"? That is a beautiful song that deserves nothing but praise.

Also, because no one got it right, allow me to step in and clarify that "Dear Prudence" is in fact the best song on the album, and indeed the best Beatles song, period. It's not famous, but it's the perfect song.

I was very disappointed by both of these so-called "Beatles fans".


Eric (25 years old)

don't care

I hate to say it but no one really cares what you think. You are only 25 years old and that is too young to have a valid opinion on anything.

Wow, this is the first Judge

Wow, this is the first Judge john Hodgman episode i seriously could not listen to the end.
Please never ever invite two such boring dofuses to state their WGAS case again!

3rd favorite album

I must say that when it was revealed that this huge beatles fan (supposedly his favorite band) said that his favorite beatles album, revolver, was only his third favorite album of all time, i thought this case should have been dismissed! how can someone claim that their favorite band is the beatles, yet not include a beatles album in their top two albums of all time?