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Ten Worst Beatles Songs

by Anne Thompson
November 20, 2010 12:53 AM
27 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Now that the Beatles library is available on iTunes (don't we already have all their CDs loaded up?) U.K. music critic Neil McCormick has ranked the worst ever Beatles songs.

There are many Beatles songs to love, but quite a few to hate--most of them sung by Ringo Starr--which I've rediscovered playing Beatles Rock Band. Here are my least favorite Beatles songs--many of them from the films Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine (something Bob Zemeckis will have to deal with on his upcoming 3-D remake). The soundtracks for their two best films, A Hard Days Night and Help!, turned out far better. The double White Album was also crammed with filler. See my and McCormick's lists and selected music clips below:

1. Boys (Starr, The Beatles)
2. Why Don't We Do It In the Road (Lennon, McCartney, White Album)
3. Yellow Submarine (Starr, Yellow Submarine)
4. Magical Mystery Tour (McCartney, Magical Mystery Tour)
5. All Together Now (McCartney, Yellow Submarine)
6. Honey Don't (Starr, Beatles for Sale)
7. Blue Jay Way (Harrison, Magical Mystery Tour)
8. Hey Bulldog (Lennon, Yellow Submarine)
9. Revolution 9 (White Album)
10. Your Mother Should Know (McCartney, Magical Mystery Tour)

McCormick's list:

The Beatles: Misery
1. Revolution 9 (The Beatles aka The White Album)
Start with John and Yoko’s nearly nine minute avant-garde sound collage, once pored over by hippies for hidden meanings. What it really means is that you shouldn’t try to make music when you’re stoned out of your brain.
2. Only A Northern Song (Yellow Submarine soundtrack)
“If you’re listening to this song / You may think the chords are going wrong” admits George, on a dreary, tuneless, quasi-psychedelic paean to The Beatles publishing company that proclaims its own laziness: “It doesn’t really matter what chords I play, what words I say”. But it bloody well does.
3. Your Mother Should Know (Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack)
Soft-shoe music hall whimsy from Macca. One of his child friendly numbers that John always hated (others include Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), this has the added disadvantage of starting with a simple idea and not taking it anywhere.
4. Mr Moonlight (Beatles For Sale)
Here’s one your mother might know, and wish she didn’t. A waste of Lennon’s roaring vocal opening, this is an extraordinarily silly cocktail lounge style cover with cheesy harmonies and a hammy organ solo.
5. The Inner Light (B-side, available on Past Masters)
Droning Indian mysticism from George. “Without going out of my door / I can know all things on Earth”. Yeah, right.
6. I’ll Get You (B-side, available on Past Masters)
Uninspiring Lennon-McCartney Merseybeat workout that seems like an exercise in getting to the chorus. Unusually for an early Beatles b-side, nobody else even bothered covering it.
7. Honey Don’t (Beatles For Sale)
Rockabilly classic that they allowed Ringo to sing with more enthusiasm than skill from an album on which you can almost hear the band’s exhaustion at the madness of Beatlemania
8. Long, Long, Long (The Beatles aka The White Album)
George created some beautiful songs, but he could really get on a minor chord downer sometimes. A boring song about ennui. Which, you could argue, is conceptual perfection.
9. Blue Jay Way (Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack)
George barely stirs himself from marijuana torpor to provide a tuneless account of a dinner party in his house in LA.
10. Don’t Pass Me By (The Beatles aka The White Album)
Ringo’s first attempt at solo songwriting, it should have been his last. Country chaos, that includes the immortal couplet: “”I’m sorry that I doubted you, I was so unfair / You were in a car crash and you lost your hair”
11. Savoy Truffle (The Beatles aka The White Album)
As glorious as The White Album is, its questionable whether they had enough really great songs to make it a double. Here George fills the gaps with a little ditty about the contents of a box of chocolates. It’s basically a song about the munchies from the marijuana mystic.
12. Octopus’s Garden (Abbey Road)
Ringo trying to replicate the childish underwater joys of Yellow Submarine, but only succeeding in ruining the otherwise perfect Abbey Road album
13. Maggie Mae (Let It Be)
During increasingly acrimonious recording sessions, The Feuding Four release tensions with a sudden burst of a dirty scouse folk song. Not their finest moment.
14. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) (B side, available on Past Masters)
We can play out with another stoned farrago of a comedy song. You should only be grateful that I didn’t include What’s The New Mary Jane from Anthology.
As for the rest? Unmitigated genius.

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More: Genres, Lists, Remake, Musical

27 Comments

  • Albatoss | October 26, 2011 7:52 AMReply

    Crap list...."Boys", "Mr. Moonlight" and "Honey Don't" are COVERS which should automatically exclude them from this list. "Long, Long, Long" is one of Harrison's best songs and I love "Blue Jay Way". I would put "Tell Me Why" on this list.

  • Jl | September 7, 2011 4:00 AMReply

    Dead wrong on Hey Bulldog! An under-rated classic. I cannot fathom its inclusion on a worst of list. No other worst Beatles song list includes it.

  • Me | August 25, 2011 2:28 AMReply

    Hey Bulldog is AMAZING. it took a while to grow on me, but it's definitely in my top ten now.

  • Chris | July 30, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    I love the magical mystery tour,song,movie,and album puts me in a very good mood.also why the ringo hate? Listen to him rock out on "what goes on" off rubber soul,very fun easy on the ears,and not the best song but the first one I skip to on that album,Ive also always enjoyed hey bulldog,

  • Dominique | May 19, 2011 8:16 AMReply

    a lot of your songs are covers you know....

  • You smell | April 24, 2011 6:08 AMReply

    Gay fag is gay

  • martha s | April 21, 2011 4:37 AMReply

    you mother should know is a good song but i hate good night and revolution 9

  • ian sane | January 21, 2011 12:01 AMReply

    I agree with Bob, Hey Bulldog is good. I put this on another blog and am still waiting for somebody to tell me what's wrong with it. The lyrics might be a bit jumbled but so was John Lennon which is why we liked him, but the performance is top notch and does indeed rock. George Harrison's reedy wistful tracks are also good music. People sometimes knock what they don't understand and think it makes them look clever when in fact... quite the reverse.

  • Pat | December 23, 2010 2:04 AMReply

    I love "You know my name (Look up my number)," and am surprised that nobody has mentioned the cloying "Honey Pie" from The White Album.

  • Brian W. Fairbanks | December 19, 2010 12:32 AMReply

    "I'll Get You" is a terrific song and I like the way the lyrics presage Lennon's "Imagine" ("Imagine I'm in love with you"). "Yellow Submarine" and Ringo's "Octopus's Garden" are wonderful too. "Revolution 9" isn't a song at all, but a very interesting (and eerie) experimental track. You really have to dig hard and deep (and be in a bad mood) to find any really bad songs from the Beatles, although I would agree that George's "Long, Long, Long" isn't much of a song.

  • bRUNO | December 14, 2010 3:05 AMReply

    you are so idiot, ALL BEATLES SONGS ROCK

  • Josh Blake | December 13, 2010 8:19 AMReply

    I actually really like 'Magical Mystery Tour' and I don't think it deserves to be on the worst songs list. There are plenty of dull and tuneless tracks on Abbey Road in my opinion which aren't as good.

  • coastwatcher | November 23, 2010 11:24 AMReply

    Just as Boys is just a cover, Starr didn't write Yellow Submarine. It was written by McCartney, but was a rare song sung by one of the other band members.

  • davidg | November 23, 2010 10:22 AMReply

    Anne, Boys isn't strictly a Beatles song. It was originally a B-side (remember them?) by, I think, the Shirelles......

  • Anne Thompson | November 23, 2010 4:59 AMReply

    I know "Boys" is a cover. It got stuck on Beatles Rock Band at one point and I dread hearing it now.

  • Jenny | November 22, 2010 11:43 AMReply

    Savoy truffle was written as a reaction to Clapton's bad teeth. Learn your facts before you post.

  • Jenny | November 22, 2010 11:41 AMReply

    I disagree. "Blue Jay Way" is an amazing song. If you don't get it, it's not the song's fault. There are of course less than stellar compositions in Beatles catalogue but I tell ya, these compositions are 10000 times better than the top 40 crap on MTV now. Leave the Beatles be.

  • Chico | November 21, 2010 5:47 AMReply

    Anne, I love the fact that you play Beatles Rock Band at home. That's completely wild. I can't wait until we get Queen Rock Band and Pink Floyd Rock Band.

  • Keith Dietz | November 20, 2010 11:51 AMReply

    Your list blows

  • Bob Westal | November 20, 2010 10:36 AMReply

    Oh, and people who post things like "your list blows" kind of blow. They also aren't getting the point of the exercise.

  • Bob Westal | November 20, 2010 10:35 AMReply

    Hey, "Hey Bulldog" is one of my personal favorites.

  • rgm | November 20, 2010 10:03 AMReply

    Yellow Submarine ?!?! Don't you remember in NYC, bqck then, getting on the subway after school and all the Hispanic and Puerto Rican kids would start singing "We all live in a yellow submarine, eating rice and beans. eating rice and beans..." It was fun.

  • Taffy is Mad | November 20, 2010 8:25 AMReply

    Why all the spite towards George Harrison? Long, Long, Long is fucking incredible. sounds like you don't get the white album either

  • MT | November 20, 2010 4:04 AMReply

    "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" was written and performed by McCartney.

  • Darkelgta3 | November 20, 2010 3:38 AMReply

    He means it was written by Lennon you idiot think before posting.

  • fuck you | November 20, 2010 2:58 AMReply

    do it in the road is great and lennon had nothing to do with it. fuck you

  • arrose | November 20, 2010 2:27 AMReply

    you meaning singing in beatles rock band?

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