By Andrea Ruth
Beatles fans were given an early Christmas gift this year when the band announced that its music would be available for streaming beginning Christmas Eve. The Beatles have notoriously avoided having their music on streaming services, like Spotify, or digitized in general—their music only became available on iTunes in 2010—and with major music stars, like Taylor Swift and Adele, keeping their music off streaming apps, it seemed unlikely the band with a Luddite streak would embrace the new way the world experiences music today.
With this expansion, Beatles music will be added to thousands of playlists and stations, exposing millions of listeners to the band’s best work…and its worst.
As a lifelong Beatles fan, I recently decided to listen to their entire catalog in chronological order. While there are many fantastic songs, ranging from pop standards like “Twist and Shout” to sentimental ballads like “Hey Jude,” there are more than a handful that, I’m sorry to say, are just bad. There definitely seems to be a threshold for the amount of drugs artists can ingest before their creativity takes a dive into audible garbage. A fair portion of the Beatles’ self-titled “White” album is a perfect example of this.
As I progressed from their early rock ‘n roll hits, which largely didn’t stray from the formulaic standard of late 1950s and 1960s British Invasion rock, into their experimental stage—lot of hits mixed with the truly awful—it became apparent that some songs never should have made it onto any Beatles album.
Now that the band’s music is streaming, there really ought to be a warning label next to the following songs, as they are the worst it ever released.
1.‘Tomorrow Never Knows’
“Turn off your mind and relax and float down stream.”
At least we know how this song happened. Only a mindless person could record a song like this and think, “The public needs to hear this!” The only good thing about “Tomorrow Never Knows” is Ringo Starr’s irregular drum line throughout. The experimental kazoo-esque effects that permeate the song make you want to plug your ears—or press fast-forward. Whatever will make it stop.
2.‘Wild Honey Pie’
As opposed to the song “Honey Pie,” a perfectly nice song you should definitely listen to, “Wild Honey Pie” is jarringly dissonant and repetitive. This is just one of the “White” album’s many “experimental” tracks. Someone should’ve told Paul McCartney, the sole creator of this song, that not every experiment has a good result, and to put this auditory tripe in the bin where it belongs. The world is just better without some things in it.
3.‘You Can’t Do That’
Turns out there is such a thing as too much cow bell, and this song has it. The percussion instrument is used in quite a few Beatles songs and one hardly notices, but in “You Can’t Do That” the clanging sound effect continuously boxes the listener’s ears. It’s particularly bad with headphones on (just trust me on that).
4.‘Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?’
Why don’t we do it in the road?
Why don’t we do it in the road?
Why don’t we do it in the roooaaad?
Get it? This song is repetitive nonsense, and simply a vehicle for Paul to see how many different ways he can say the same eight words in less than two minutes. Other Beatles songs have only one lyric, but “Why Don’tWe Do It In the Road?” doesn’t use any of the tempo and style changes that can be found in similar songs, like “You Know My Name.” There is no point in listening to this song other than to get on other people’s nerves, or because you simply hate yourself.
5.‘Run For Your Life’
A sampling of the lyrics:
Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am
You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end ah little girl
That’s just the beginning. Usually, I don’t object to songs because of lyrics—I own several Eminem albums—but this one is just creepy and abusive enough to make me hate listening to it, let alone sing along. The tempo and style are fun and easy to listen to, but there are better Beatles songs to spend your time on than this one. It’s the only Beatles song I’d ever consider discouraging my budding-Beatles-fan daughter from listening to.
The lyrics are typical Beatles fare, but the background vocals will truly get to you in this song featuring John Lennon in the lead. It’s a steady stream of “wawawa’s” and “see see see,” as John vies for attention with his equally annoying high notes. If Sadie is sexy, then she definitely would avoid making people aware that this song exists lest her number on the 1 to 10 scale be affected through association.
Besides being the song Charles Manson blamed for inspiring him to instruct his followers to kill everyone at the home of film director Roman Polanski, where his pregnant wife Sharon Tate was killed along with four other people, this song is a mess. Mostly consisting of Paul McCartney screaming into the microphone for nearly five minutes, it’s a song you needn’t suffer through in order to understand references to it in popular culture, so why waste your time?
8.‘Good Morning. Good Morning’
Roosters are pretty much the worst farm animal. They’re nasty, mean, and loud. My neighbor has a rooster, and it’s a blight on my quality of life. What does this have to do with a Beatles song, you ask? Well, this song strongly features a cacophony of barnyard animals, including a rooster, making it one of the worst things you will ever listen to. Add to that the repetitive hook, “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning-Ga,” and it’s best not to risk getting it stuck in your head.
This is not a song. It’s a weird, drugged-out conglomeration of sounds ranging from a fussy baby to a man shouting “Right!” over and over. Maybe if you pick up a serious LSD habit you could enjoy it, but I doubt it. I’ll give you one guess about which album this track appears in. That’s right, the “White” album.
10.‘Within You, Without You’
Here it is. The worst Beatles song ever put on an album. It’s peak sitar-era George Harrison. I’m not against the sitar in most Beatles songs where it’s featured. “Norwegian Wood” is a great song that uses the unique sound of the sitar perfectly. “Within You, Without You” likely wouldn’t be so bad without the accompanying vocals and lyrics from Harrison. The musicianship is excellent, and as an instrumental would actually be a good song, except maybe not on a Beatles album. At the very least, it shouldn’t have been included on the “Sgt. Pepper’s” album, as it didn’t fit at all.
It always kind of hurts when I remember that George Harrison, my favorite Beatle and author of arguably two of the best Beatles songs (“Here Comes the Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”), was capable of writing a song that is one of the band’s most-hated.
The preceding songs notwithstanding, the Beatles are rightly known as one of the greatest bands in music history, with a truly amazing catalog that any band should envy. Having their music easily accessible through streaming opens it to a new generation of fans, and ushers the band into the twenty-first century, where they can continue to hold a place among the greats in the minds of young music lovers.