Considering they’re the Greatest Band Of All Time, The Beatles are responsible for a surprising amount of ropy old toss. Indeed, listening to their collected works on shuffle is an exercise fraught with potential danger.
You might be sitting there, blissing out to ‘Across The Universe’, or marvelling at the dazzling harmonic perfection of ‘In My Life’, when – wham! – ‘Oh Bla Di Oh Bla Da’ blurts out of the speakers and the reverie is shattered, forcing you to sprint across the room to hit ‘next’ before your ears are corrupted by the least convincing cod-reggae skanking this side of the Q.I. theme tune.
The Beatles songs that attract the greatest scorn are generally the cosy, nursery-rhyme ones – ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, ‘Octopus’ Garden’ etc – but there are more serious objections to be made, besides mere tweeness. At times, John Lennon’s lyrics could be so caustic as to be downright repellent, as with ‘Run For Your Life’, a kind of evil twin to ‘Jealous Guy’, in which Lennon’s possessiveness boils over into violent rage (“I’d rather see you dead little girl/Than to see you with another man”).
Lennon later deflected responsibility for this, saying he’d simply lifted the line from Elvis Presley’s ‘Baby Let’s Play House’ – although that didn’t stop him registering ‘Run For Your Life’ as a Lennon/McCartney composition.
Obviously it goes without saying that The Beatles were, at their peak, superhuman compositional geniuses – hence our reader poll, which aims to celebrate their greatest songs. But as a light-hearted corrective to all the hero-worship and hyperbole, we thought we’d kickstart a debate about their least inspired moments, too.
Our picks are after the jump, what are yours?
Tom Pinnock: ‘The Long And Winding Road’. There had been below-par songs by them before – ‘Honey Pie’, ‘Octopus’s Garden’, etc. – but none as joyless or, with Phil Spector’s phoned-in string-drenched production, as cheesy as this. A sad end.
Paul Stokes: ‘Taxman’ – love the music, could have been a classic, but a millionaire rock star singing about the unfairness of a progressive tax system? Come on George there must have been more interesting things to being in the Beatles.
James McMahon: I don’t really listen to any of the kids nursery rhyme ones – ‘Octopus’s Garden’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, all that – but then I’m not a kid anymore. This would have been a very different answer if you’d asked me twenty years ago.”
Marc McClaren: ‘Lady Madonna’ – Beatles by numbers. Cheesy. That whole boogie-woogie thing grates. Still brilliant though.
Jamie Fullerton: ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ – it’s the kind of song title that should be alongside Eric Clapton efforts on a Clarkson-approved driving compilation.
Tim Chester: ‘Revolution #9’ – for obvious and repetitive reasons.