Worst is a relative term. Like any other band, The Beatles released their fair share of songs that don’t quite measure up to the extraordinary standards of quality set by their greatest tracks. Thus, these songs make up the worst of their storied career, but that hardly means they aren’t enjoyable in their own right.
With that said, let’s look back at the biggest musical missteps of the Fab Four’s discography and marvel that it’s difficult to pick even 10 Beatles songs that are mediocre enough to be considered their worst. These are the worst Beatles songs as I see them, and they’re still pretty damn good.
10. ‘Revolution 9’
I don’t hate “Revolution 9” as vehemently as many do. Many likely haven’t even listened to this White Album track all the way through, as it’s more of an experimental sound collage than a traditional song. It’s an interesting bit of work for the avant-garde sensibilities on display and the eerie atmosphere it evokes, but that doesn’t stop me from skipping it nearly every time it comes on.
9. ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’
John Lennon hated this Abbey Road track even while recording it, calling it “more of Paul’s granny music.” While I’m a sucker for most of McCartney’s schmaltziest tracks (“Honey Pie,” “When I’m Sixty-Four”), I have to agree with Lennon on this one — “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is an irritating piece of work, its jaunty nursery rhyme melody is only made more annoying by the incongruously dark lyrics.
8. ‘You Like Me Too Much’
Their fifth U.K. release Help! found The Beatles dipping their toes into folk music and more emotionally complex lyricism, but the album was nonetheless weighed down by a couple weak rockers. “You Like Me Too Much” stands out as a weak point, an early George Harrison contribution that only serves to show how much he improved as a singer and songwriter on subsequent releases.
7. ‘Don’t Bother Me’
The first song by George Harrison to ever appear on a Beatles release, “Don’t Bother Me” is another weak point in the Beatles’ early catalog. Even Harrison said of the song, “at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing, and then maybe eventually I would write something good.” It’s totally fine, but the lacking melody and rather messy production sound puts it a few notches beneath the album’s other tracks, including the ones immediately before and after (“All My Loving” and “Little Child”).
Maybe I’ve just heard it one too many times, but “Birthday” is surprisingly lacking in lyrical and musical content, particularly for a song released this late in The Beatles’ career. Sure, it has a propulsive, fun sound, but that doesn’t matter much when the song is only slightly more complex than “Happy Birthday,” and also operates on the assumption that your birthday is the same as Paul McCartney’s.
5. ‘Run For Your Life’
John Lennon was a woman-beater, but he worked hard to understand and move past his violent tendencies, a struggle exemplified beautifully in his solo track “Jealous Guy.” Years earlier, however, he wrote the disturbing “Run For Your Life,” a jaunty little tune wherein he repeatedly threatens physical harm against a significant other if he catches her with another man. It’s Lennon’s least favorite Beatles song, and the only weak spot on the otherwise perfect Rubber Soul album.
4. ‘Honey Don’t’
This Carl Perkins cover was Ringo’s one vocal contribution to Beatles for Sale, and it’s lacking even for a Ringo track, which are rarely album highlights. The rockabilly flavor of the tune sounds out of place, particularly since The Beatles have always sounded better when trusting their own material rather than covering their influences (okay, except for “Twist and Shout,” which is both a cover and an absolute triumph).
3. ‘Wild Honey Pie’
Not to be confused with “Honey Pie” (which is awesome), “Wild Honey Pie” is a definitive throwaway Beatles track, a tossed-off song that’s only entertaining because it lasts only 52 seconds. Though it’s an unusual enough diversion and doesn’t overstay its welcome, it’s hard to think of a good argument for its existence.
2. ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’
Another weak cover, and another Help!-era rocker that underwhelms. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” just sounds lousy. Lennon yowls the lyrics in a way that only dilutes the melody, and the production is a mess of double tracking. And yet somehow, McCartney considers this one of The Beatles’ very best recordings.
1. ‘All Together Now’
There are a few Paul McCartney songs that sound like children’s music, but none are worse than “All Together Now,” which boasts moving lyrics like “A, B, C, D / Can I bring my friend to tea?” which seems like a placeholder nobody ever bothered replacing. There’s a rousing quality to the group-sung chorus and the strange instruments buried in the mix, but it never adds up to anything more than an ersatz imitation of “Yellow Submarine” with worse lyrics.
Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf
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