The Beatles altered the music world forever. They were voted the most “mood-boosting” band by one recent survey, and are considered the most influential band of all time by many. Though the band parted ways way back in 1969, they have never left the pop culture conversation. Their legacy of timeless hits became a never-ending debate about which are the best Beatles songs. And there are many, many to choose from — which means there isn’t one “right” answer.
Of course, the “best” means different things to different people. In a survey of 2,000 adults, “Let It Be” by The Beatles was listed as one of the most relaxing tunes. For the saddest song, the youngest age range selected “Yesterday.” And “The Long and Winding Road” also made the list of saddest songs ever.
Are magic mushrooms the magic behind the band? Psychedelics became popular during the “Flower Power” movement of the 1960s. They even inspired a host of bands including, reportedly, The Beatles. Or, maybe the magic came from transcendental meditation? This form of meditation first gained international recognition when The Beatles traveled to India to learn its secrets.
We’ll probably never know the secret sauce behind the Fab Four’s music. But what we do know is that there are some seriously serious fans — including major names in music — who’ve taken the time to strum up lists of their best songs. But because every “best Beatles songs” list could very well have its own top five, we went by what 15 music pros rave about the most. Below, these experts rank them from fab to far out.
The List: Top 5 Beatles Songs, According To Music Experts
1. “A Day in the Life”
Rolling Stone puts this song above the rest, writing, “‘A Day in the Life’ is the sound of the Beatles on a historic roll. ‘It was a peak,’ John Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970. It’s also the ultimate Lennon-McCartney collaboration.”
“No one knits together the grandiose and the mundane like The Beatles. Lyrically, ‘A Day in the Life’ is pure poetic banality: John goes to the pictures and worries about holes in the road while Paul gets startled by his alarm clock and smokes a joint on the bus. But musically it’s an apocalypse: from the concrete opening piano chords to the queasy orchestral climax, this song feels like the end of, well, everything,” TimeOut says.
This song is a winner, according to For The Win: “I tried to see if I could think of a Beatles song that was better, mostly because if you polled 1,000 fans, I’d bet this song would come out on top. But there’s a reason for that, isn’t it? It’s not so much a song as it is a symphony. And this is the apex of the Lennon-McCartney partnership that produced so many amazing songs — John on the verse, Paul on the bridge, leading up to that thunderous piano chord that gives me chills nearly every time I hear it.”
2. “In My Life”
According to SmoothRadio, “This emotional track is a reflective look at one’s life, and was written by both McCartney and Lennon, though both men disputed each other’s contributions later in life. Lennon later said that the song was his ‘first real major piece of work’ as it was the first time he wrote personal lyrics about his own life.”
“The song is one of the best Beatles songs of all time, held in high regard by both fans and critics. Many Beatles songs bestow upon you a warm feeling of nostalgia, but this song best encapsulates that feeling in a single track,” Music Grotto raves.
Gold Radio calls this one of the best: “It’s maybe impossible to say that any one Beatles song is their best, but it’s hard to give any sort of argument against ‘In My Life.’ It’s a gorgeous, wonderful, heartbreaking and nostalgic study of life and loss. A masterpiece.”
PinkVilla chooses this popular track as a top pick: “When this song was first released in 1965, it immediately became popular. It was first included in ‘Help!’ and later made available as a single. The audience reacted favorably to this Lennon McCartney tune. This Beatles song is made lovely by the acoustic guitar playing in the background.”
“It might be cliche to name ‘Yesterday’ as the best Beatles song, but cliches aren’t necessarily a bad thing when they’re this devastatingly beautiful. Its beauty can be found in its lyrics and its simplicity. It’s a masterclass in pop excellence, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to disagree with that,” WMMR writes.
OldTimeMusic credits this song for taking The Beatles to the next level: “Paul McCartney’s composition and delivery of the song ‘Yesterday’ turned the tide again. It took The Beatles to another level again. An eternal tearjerker ever since … And, I might say, the scourge of the karaoke bar. It is still one of the Top 10 requested Beatles songs.”
4. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
“If you’re searching for the best Beatles songs ranked, many would agree that ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is at the very top. Besides being a timeless hit, the song also has an interesting story behind it. George Harrison apparently decided to write the lyrics based on the first words he sees after opening a book in his parents’ house. The first words he saw was the phrase ‘gently weeps.’ And that’s how ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was born,” MidderMusic tells.
Yardbarker calls it stirring: “George Harrison finally realized his songwriting potential with this blisteringly emotional track. As The Beatles began to grow further apart, Harrison turned inward; while his band mates dabbled in Indian spiritualism, Harrison firmly embraced it and poured all of his hopes and frustrations into this song. It was a stirring preview of what he’d accomplish with ‘All Things Must Pass.’”
“Although ostensibly ‘a George song,’ this beloved White Album track has a secret, uncredited session musician: fellow Englishman and guitar hero Eric Clapton, with whom George shared a rather complicated relationship, plays the wailing guitar solo on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ Harrison blends his burgeoning East-meets-West musical and lyrical influences, and as such, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is one of his most lauded works with The Beatles,” Paste Magazine writes.
5. “Tomorrow Never Knows”
According to Mojo, “The recording of the song is the perfect illustration of The Beatles’ experimental epiphany. McCartney recorded several tape loops in his home studio, capturing abstract, repeating phrases. Back at Abbey Road, these loops were loaded onto multiple tape machines, which were fed to the recording console. As the tape loops played endlessly, the group and engineer were able to raise and lower the volume of each loop, creating a sonic collage that faded in and out. [An] effect soon to be copied by tribes of would-be psychedelic voyagers.”
NME credits this song as the origin of dance music: “It’s possible to trace the origins of most modern music back to The Beatles catalogue. But ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was perhaps their most influential track of all. In trying to recreate the sound in Lennon’s head to emulate a transcendental acid high, the band experimented with loops, sampling, drone and tape manipulation, creating not just the epitome of psychedelia, but effectively inventing dance music.”
“Here’s where LSD, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead and one of Ringo’s malapropisms collide. McCartney’s avant-garde tape loops, processed beats and backwards instrumentation and rock music shifted course once again,” Louder says.
What’s your favorite? Let us know which you think is the best Beatles song in the comments below.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Beatles Albums of All-Time
- Best Rock Bands of All-Time
- Best Heavy Metal Bands of All-Time
- Best Rolling Stones Albums Of All-Time
- Best Elvis Presley Songs Of All-Time
- Rolling Stone
- For The Win
- Music Grotto
- Gold Radio
- Paste Magazine
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