Our Broward-Palm Beach New Times colleague Ryan Burk recently stirred up quite a healthy debate in the reader feedback section of his blog post, "Top Five Worst Beatles Songs" with comments ranging from Snarfblatt's supportive, "This is a spot-on review," to Chris Clouston's "You should have your freedom of speech taken away if this is how you use it..." (Top Worst Amendment? The first!) My personal favorites are the ones that start something like, "Clearly, you are not now and never have been a Beatles fan because if you were, you would have read John's postscript to his third letter to BLAH BLAH SNORE SNORE ZZZZ." For the record, Burk's Beatles Hell Mixtape features:
1. "Hey Jude"
2. "Glass Onion"
3. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
4. "Yellow Submarine"
5. "Her Majesty"
I love a free press and would never wish to restrict Burk's freedom to complain about whatever popular songs he wants, but I have to agree with the popular opinion that this is a very controversial list.
Should "Her Majesty" even be considered a "song"? A ditty perhaps, but its inclusion feels a little too easy and anyway, it's a fitting coda to the schizophrenic stylistic exploration of "The End." Hating "Yellow Submarine" that much is like hating the sight of a child's smile. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"? That bass line is great! "Glass Onion" may be lyrically a little too self-parodic but that 1-2 drum hit that kicks it off and pops up occasionally throughout the song is pretty great.
And "Hey Jude" a "festering turd of a song"? Come now! Ok, maybe Ringo rides that cymbal a little hard but McCartney's yowling Cary Grant impersonation is great to sing along with in the car. Anyway, no "Hey Jude" means no this. And you wouldn't want to live in a world where that didn't exist. By no means should "Hey Jude" be considered the absolute worst Beatles song, especially with the following contenders. After the jump, my absolutely objective, debate-ending, 100% for sure top five worst Beatles songs.
5. "Do You Want to Know a Secret"
Some would consider including such an early Beatles song slightly unfair due to the incredible leap in experimentation and songwriting that occurred around the recording of Help! but the fact is the Beatles came out of the gate strong and most of their early output was head and shoulders above their contemporaries. "Do You Want to Know a Secret," is just not a good song, however. Despite a promising opening, the song almost immediately devolves into early '60s schmaltz, completely indistinguishable from much of the rest of the dreamy-eyed teen pop hits of that era with some of the more insipid lyrics ever to grace a Beatles tune. It's no surprise that the composing of the song was inspired by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because it's clearly intended for babies. When George Harrison sings, "I've known a secret for a week or two/Nobody knows, just we two," you just want to push his shaggy head off your shoulder and run for your life if you can, little girl. This is one secret he can keep.
4. "Penny Lane"
There's nothing wrong with this song lyrically but musically it's twee and syrupy with some obnoxious horn trills and about 20% too much "bounce." Rolling Stone ranked it #449 on their list of the top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. This is pretty impressive until you realize that R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" came in at #406 and also that Rolling Stone is horrible. The fact that this is one of the songs most associated with the Beatles is a tragedy. Penny Lane is in my ears and I want it out NOW.