Top 50 Beatles Songs
What is there to say about the Beatles that hasn’t been said? They restructured pop and rock music as we know it more than once during the brief seven years that they made records. They were at the center of a pop-culture revolution that’s still resonating today. And every single one of their albums — from 1963′s debut, Please Please Me, to 1970's swan song, Let It Be — is a classic. You can say that about a huge chunk of their tracks too, as you'll see in our list of the Top 50 Beatles Songs.
Once the Beatles committed to becoming a full-time studio group, they wasted no time exploring the various shapes and colors tucked away in the technological corners. On Revolver's closing cut they tripped out, with backward loops, sped-up tapes and exotic instruments buried in the mind-exploding mix.
John Lennon's whirlwind affair with Yoko Ono yielded a couple experimental records, a ton of controversy and unparalleled scrutiny from the media. After some of the dust on the matter settled, Lennon wrote a song about it, chronicling his yearlong misadventures with messianic, winking frustration.
One of Sgt. Pepper's melodically cheeriest songs rides an undercurrent of melancholy, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney trade words (and moods) on the chorus. "Getting Better," like much of the album, was spearheaded by McCartney, but everyone chips in here.
Generally credited as one of the first songs to include deliberate feedback, "I Feel Fine" helped shape the Beatles' declaration of independence. Within a few months they would replace their traditional forms of songwriting to include more studio effects and audio experiments.
When the Beatles made their first U.S. appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964, this was the song they started with. The two-minute pop explosion served as a perfect intro to the group and the incoming wave of Beatlemania.
Recorded after the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper's but before the fractious White Album sessions that would signal their breakup, "Hello Goodbye" came during a significant period for the Beatles – still a band, but now one where Paul McCartney's voice (both his literal and metaphorical ones) shines bright.
One of the group's earliest songs is as nostalgic as it is forward-looking. Borrowing songwriting cues from the Beatles' rock 'n' roll heroes, "From Me to You" sounds like a tribute to the music's formative years. But the big hook driving it was a taste of things to come.
In the U.K., "Drive My Car" opened the game-changing Rubber Soul, steering straight into a brave new world for pop artists. Staking out a firm identity on the album, the Beatles would never be the same. Rubber Soul was the dividing line; "Drive My Car" is the opening shot.
The Beatles met Bob Dylan while touring the U.S. in 1964. He introduced them to marijuana. But they were also big fans of his music, especially John Lennon, who pretty much lifted Dylan's style and sound on Help!'s acoustic centerpiece "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away."
For the most part, Ringo Starr covered old rock, country and pop hits on Beatles albums. But for "Yellow Submarine," John Lennon and Paul McCartney handed him one of their most playful songs, a singalong number loaded with sound effects and a ton of psychedelic fun.
No longer content writing love songs and singing "yeah, yeah, yeah," the Beatles got deep on Rubber Soul, penning more personal cuts fraught with emotional baggage. John Lennon's "Nowhere Man" peeks into the soul of an everyman and discovers a dark, lonely chasm.
John Lennon has always claimed that the inspiration behind one of Sgt. Pepper's most popular cuts was a drawing by his son. But he isn't fooling anyone. With its spaced-out imagery and kaleidoscopic soundscape, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is an acid trip for your ears.
The Beatles were still finding their footing when they recorded "This Boy" in 1963. Released as the B-side to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (and recorded during the same sessions), the song is built on an R&B rhythm inspired by Motown legend Smokey Robinson. It also features a killer vocal by John Lennon.
The Beatles' last single released as a group, and their final No. 1, was recorded during the tumultuous sessions that spawned the Let It Be album. It's one of Paul McCartney's most gorgeous songs, buoyed by Phil Spector's majestic, and controversial, strings.
Recorded during the Rubber Soul sessions (and released as a single the same day as, but not included on, the album), "We Can Work It Out" is stuffed with the wide-eyed wonderment that graced Beatles recordings during this fertile period. It's one of the few songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote together after they hit it big.
George Harrison's bitter screed against British tax laws (and the people who enforce them) opened one of their most adventurous albums on a tough, sparring note. In addition to unveiling the magical mysteries of Revolver, "Taxman" ushered in a new era of creativity for the so-called Quiet Beatle.
The Beatles reworked "Revolution" so many times during the troubled White Album sessions that three versions appeared in 1968: a bluesy, acoustic crawl found on The Beatles, a messy sound collage also on the LP and this plugged-in electric version, which was released as a single as the B-side of "Hey Jude."
"Paperback Writer" was the only Beatles song to reach No. 1 in 1966. But Beatlemania was far from over. The group was stretching its sound – check out the fatter bass anchoring the track – and boundaries during the era, recording the mesmerizing Revolver before moving on to the colorful popscape of Sgt. Pepper's.
Abbey Road's second side is mostly dominated by a multi-song suite orchestrated by Paul McCartney. But this lovely George Harrison song opens the side with a beam of sunshine that carries in with it the Beatles' glorious final notes.
One of the Beatles' toughest tracks is all raging guitars, scarred vocal cords and blistered fingers. Its abrasive tone rocks the tranquility found elsewhere on the White Album, while still being an integral part of that LP's sturdy-but-crumbling structure.