George Harrison Said The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ Wasn’t ‘Any Good’ But He Had a Theory About Why It Was Popular

The soundtrack album Yellow Submarine includes some of The Beatles‘ most famous songs. Despite this, George Harrison criticized the album in an interview. Notably, he had a theory about why Yellow Submarine was so popular even in the 1990s.

The Beatles' George Harrison wearing a suit and standing near someone dressed as a Blue Meanie from 'Yellow Submarine'
George Harrison with someone dressed as a Blue Meanie from The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ | Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

George Harrison liked some of The Beatles’ albums but not others

According to the book George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters, George said he was a fan of The Beatles’ Revolver and Rubber Soul in 1977. Despite this, he didn’t like all of the Fab Four’s albums. “There were albums which weren’t any good as far as I was concerned, like Yellow Submarine,” he said

Furthermore, George didn’t like the way The Beatles’ albums were released in the United States. He said he didn’t like how record labels would create albums like Yesterday and Today that included Beatles songs without honoring the band’s original intent.

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George Harrison said the songs from ‘Yellow Submarine’ sounded different from more recent music

During a 2000 interview with Billboard, George discussed why the 1999 home video release of Yellow Submarine was a hit. “I think because it’s the same when people were 9 or 16 back in the ’60s,” he opined. “They liked it then, and they like it now for the same basic reasons: The songs are catchy, they’re fun, and they still have whatever it was then.”

George contrasted the songs of Yellow Submarine with more recent music. “It’s in those grooves, and it’s boom,” he said. “Also they’re a bit of light relief after all this drum machine stuff that we’ve been having for the last 15 or 20 years.”

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The way the world reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’

Regardless of what listeners thought of drum machines, “Yellow Submarine” became a huge hit. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. The album Yellow Submarine was a success too. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and it remained on the chart for 25 weeks.

“Yellow Submarine” was popular in the United Kingdom as well. According to The Official Charts Company, a double A-side of “Yellow Submarine” and “Eleanor Rigby” reached No. 1 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for 13 weeks. Meanwhile, Yellow Submarine hit No. 3 in the U.K. and lasted on the chart for 10 weeks.

Yellow Submarine had an impact on pop culture beyond its time on the charts. Oasis alluded to the song in the lyrics of “Supersonic.” In the same vein, The Simpsons and Family Guy referenced the film. The Rutles released a spoof album titled Yellow Submarine Sandwich. George didn’t like Yellow Submarine — but the public seemed to embrace it.

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