The 10 worst songs by The Beatles

The Beatles might be the most influential band to have graced the music world, but that doesn’t mean that every track they released was flawless. After becoming The Beatles in 1960, the Fab Four wrote and released hundreds of songs before their breakup in 1970. Despite being together for just a decade, the band completely changed the landscape of popular music.

Experimenting with new instruments, recording techniques and genres led the band to create some of the greatest songs of the era, ranging from ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to ‘Something’. However, the band’s experimental nature often proved disastrous, and they released plenty of tracks that failed to impress.

Despite Paul McCartney and John Lennon being the primary songwriters for the band, it is McCartney that has arguably produced the most duds. Whereas George Harrison was given less authority to pen tracks, when he did, they were usually spectacular. On the other hand, Ringo Starr was rarely allowed to write tracks; when he did, they were often lacklustre.

Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the worst Beatles tracks of all time, ranging from pointless filler tracks such as ‘Maggie Mae’ to outrageously bad experimental pieces like ‘Wild Honey Pie’.

The 10 worst songs by The Beatles:
‘Good Day Sunshine’ (Revolver, 1966)
Revolver is arguably one of the band’s most outstanding achievements, incorporating psychedelic elements and innovative recording techniques such as automatic double tracking. However, one song sticks out like a sore thumb – ‘Good Day Sunshine’. Inspired by the Lovin’ Spoonful, McCartney wrote the song to have “the same traditional, almost trad-jazz feel.”

Unfortunately, the track is laced with kitsch, cheesy melodies and uses a barrelhouse style which cheapens the mood of the otherwise superb album. McCartney’s lighthearted attempt at creating a song inspired by sunny days falls relatively flat.

 

‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ (Abbey Road, 1969)
The Beatles decided to disguise a tale of murder in upbeat vocals and melodies on ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’, with McCartney describing it as “my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does.” The song caused a lot of contention between the band members, with Lennon referring to it as “more of Paul’s granny music.”

In 2008, Starr said, “The worst session ever was ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for fucking weeks. I thought it was mad.”

‘Rocky Raccoon’ (The Beatles, 1969)
On The White Album, The Beatles tried out all sorts of styles, resulting in some of their finest tracks, from ‘Helter Skelter’ to ‘Long, Long, Long’. However, they also tried out a country ballad with ‘Rocky Raccoon’, with McCartney putting on a cringe-inducing western accent to pretend to be a cowboy, as George Martin plays honky-tonk style piano and Lennon contributes harmonica.

Martin even admitted that the track was “filler” to aid the band’s creation of a double album. McCartney admitted that the song was a pastiche – “I was basically spoofing the folksinger.” Quite frankly, ‘Rocky Raccoon’ is a lazy, forgettable piece which should’ve stayed a demo.

‘Run For Your Life’ (Rubber Soul, 1965)
Musically, ‘Run For Your Life’ is by no means terrible, but lyrically, the track is one of the band’s worst. Despite Lennon’s peace and love image, the singer discusses his desire to kill his “little girl” if he catches her with another man. The worst thing about Lennon’s delivery of the lyrics is how proud he sounds to be singing such gross words. “Baby, I’m determined/ And I’d rather see you dead.”

By 1973, Lennon labelled it as his “least favourite Beatles song”. The song was never performed live and remains the weakest track on an otherwise strong album, Rubber Soul.

Yellow Submarine’ (Revolver, 1966)
Yet another McCartney-penned track, ‘Yellow Submarine’ is one of the band’s most cheerful and straightforward pieces. He said: “‘Yellow Submarine’ is very simple but very different. It’s a fun song, a children’s song. Originally we intended it to be ‘Sparky’, a children’s record. But now it’s the idea of a yellow submarine where all the kids went to have fun. I was just going to sleep one night and thinking if we had a children’s song, it would be nice to be on a yellow submarine where all your friends are with a band.”

Vocal duties were given to Starr, which was never the best of ideas. Although it is quite a sweet song for children, for adult listeners, ‘Yellow Submarine’ doesn’t have much going for it.

‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ is another one of McCartney’s kitsch creations that lacks any impressive melodic skill, perhaps because he wrote the melody when he was 14. “Rock and roll was about to happen that year; it was about to break, [so] I was still a little bit cabaret minded,” he said, and this is evident in the track. “I wrote a lot of stuff thinking I was going to end up in the cabaret, not realising that rock and roll was particularly going to happen.”

According to McCartney: “I did it in a rooty-tooty variety style… George helped me on a clarinet arrangement.” Although the lyrics have some charm to them, with McCartney singing, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me/ When I’m sixty-four,” the vaudeville style he often leaned towards provided the band with some of their weakest moments.

on’t Pass Me By’ (The Beatles, 1968)
‘Don’t Pass Me By’ is another example of why Ringo shouldn’t have been given any vocal duties – or solo writing duties, for that matter. The main issue with the country rock song is that it is simply dull and forgettable. According to Starr: “I wrote ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ when I was sitting round at home. I was fiddling with the piano – I just bang away – and then if a melody comes and some words, I just have to keep going.”

He continued: “It was great to get my first song down, one that I had written. It was a very exciting time for me and everyone was really helpful, and recording that crazy violinist was a thrilling moment.” Sadly, the final result sounds far from thrilling.

‘Maggie Mae’ (Let It Be, 1970)
Easily one of The Beatles’ most pointless songs, ‘Maggie Mae’ only clocks in at 40 seconds, but that still feels too long. Sitting in the middle of Let It Be, the track is simply redundant and annoying. The band based the piece on a traditional Liverpool folk song, and Lennon and McCartney make themselves sound as Scouse as ever as they deliver lines such as “that dirty no good robbing Maggie Mae.”

The band performed the track whilst warming up in the studio, paying homage to the old skiffle and rock and roll songs they played when they were The Quarrymen. However, the song would’ve been better left off their final album.

Wild Honey Pie (The Beatles, 1968)
Another track that didn’t need to end up on an album, ‘Wild Honey Pie’ is less than a minute long and incredibly unpleasant – I’m not sure who would sit down and willingly listen to it. Distorted guitars welcome warped screeches of “Honey pie!” by McCartney. According to the musician, Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd “liked it very much, so we decided to leave it on the album.”

Author Mark Hertsgaard explains the track well: “Wild Honey Pie’ […] simply assaulted the ear; it sounded like someone had taken a hammer to a giant pocket watch until the springs inside collapsed in heavy, discordant agony.” The band’s experimental sensibilities often paid off, but certainly not here.

‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ (The Beatles, 1968)
Appearing on the band’s self-titled double album often referred to as The White Album, ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ is simply terrible. The track features a plodding beat, jarring piano, and obnoxious hand claps, leaving much to be desired. Rightly so, Lennon “openly and vocally detested” the track, which was a McCartney creation, calling it “Paul’s granny music shit.”

According to Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn, McCartney recorded the song over 60 times until he was happy with it, which drove Lennon insane. Out of frustration, Lennon disappeared to get high and, upon returning, went to the piano and played the track faster and louder in a “mock music-hall” style, which ended up being the version used on the album.

‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ (The Beatles, 1968)
Appearing on the band’s self-titled double album often referred to as The White Album, ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ is simply terrible. The track features a plodding beat, jarring piano, and obnoxious hand claps, leaving much to be desired. Rightly so, Lennon “openly and vocally detested” the track, which was a McCartney creation, calling it “Paul’s granny music shit.”

According to Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn, McCartney recorded the song over 60 times until he was happy with it, which drove Lennon insane. Out of frustration, Lennon disappeared to get high and, upon returning, went to the piano and played the track faster and louder in a “mock music-hall” style, which ended up being the version used on the album.

1 comment
  1. “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” is another awful song. As good as most of the White album was it contained some poor fillers Number 9….number 9….number 9 etc,.

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