28 Of The Best Beatles Songs Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

The Beatles became a global sensation during the 1960s, a pivotal decade that witnessed the birth of the Beatlemania phenomenon.

Because of them, we were introduced to some of the greatest songs ever known, from the infectious energy of “Twist and Shout” to the unforgettable melodies of “Yesterday” and “Let It Be.”

In this post, join us as we look at 28 of the best Beatles songs of all time. Each one has been a huge influence on music lovers across the globe. Dive in, and prepare to be swept away by these musical gems that define generations.

1. “Hey Jude”

Probably the most well-known song by The Beatles is “Hey Jude.”It was released in August 1968 as a single and was a huge success, topping the charts in many countries around the world. It also spent nine weeks at #1 in the United States, which was a record for any Beatles single.

At over seven minutes long, “Hey Jude” was at the time of its release one of the longest singles ever to top the British charts. The song is renowned for its uplifting message and its epic, sing-along coda that comprises the song’s second half.

“Hey Jude” is seen as a quintessential Beatles track, representing their ability to write powerful, enduring pop songs. The song was also notable for its promotion through a music video before music videos became standard.

2. “Let It Be”

“Let It Be” is another iconic song by The Beatles. It was released as a single in March 1970 and later as the title track of their final album in May of the same year. Despite the album being released after “Abbey Road,” much of “Let It Be” was recorded before, making it the last project to be released by the band.

The song was written by Paul McCartney, credited to Lennon-McCartney, and it is often seen as a poignant and introspective ballad reflecting the turbulent period the band was going through during its recording. It is characterized by its calm and soothing tone, McCartney’s soulful vocals, and a beautiful solo from lead guitarist George Harrison.

Like “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be” is regularly included on lists of the greatest songs of all time, and it’s been covered by countless artists since its release, like the charity group Ferry Aid. It’s seen as a song of peace and acceptance, and its universal message continues to resonate with listeners around the world.

3. “Yesterday”

Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon-McCartney, “Yesterday” originally appeared on the album Help! in the UK in 1965. In the United States, it was first released as a single in September 1965 and later also included on the album Yesterday and Today in 1966.

Interestingly, the melody for “Yesterday” came to McCartney in a dream. He woke up with the entire melody in his head and played it out on the piano. After playing the tune for others in the music industry, he began writing the lyrics.

The song’s themes of regret and lost love have resonated with millions of listeners worldwide. Its impact on the music world is immense, showcasing The Beatles’ and McCartney’s ability to create beautiful, timeless melodies and poignant lyrics. It remains a beloved classic and an important part of The Beatles’ impressive legacy.

4. “I Want To Hold Your Hand”

The Beatles’ song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was released in the UK in November 1963 and in the US in December of the same year. The song became a massive international hit and remains one of the band’s most popular songs.

It was composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and reflects their collaborative songwriting at its peak. The result was an upbeat, energetic song with lyrics expressing young love and desire “to hold your hand,” a theme that resonated with listeners and helped cement The Beatles’ popularity.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” had a massive impact and played a pivotal role in The Beatles’ career. Its success in the US led to The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, which marked the start of the British Invasion of the American music scene.

Despite its relatively simple composition and lyrics, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” has become an enduring classic, demonstrating The Beatles’ ability to create catchy, timeless pop music.

5. “She Loves You”

Another iconic song that was crucial to establishing The Beatles’ international popularity is “She Loves You.” Released in the UK in August 1963, the song quickly became a #1 hit; in the US, released in September of that same year, it was also a chart-topper.

Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “She Loves You” is known for its energetic sound, catchy melody, and distinctive “yeah, yeah, yeah” refrain, which became a catchphrase of sorts for the band and a symbol of their fresh, youthful image.

The song marked a departure from traditional love songs in that it was written from a third-person perspective. Instead of expressing their own feelings to a loved one, as was typical in pop music, The Beatles sang about a friend who needs to recognize the love someone else has for him.

“She Loves You” has since been recognized as one of The Beatles’ signature songs and remains one of their enduring tracks. It’s a testament to their ability to write infectious, memorable pop songs we still love today.

6. “Help!”

We have next “Help!” In mid-1965, it was released as a single from The Beatles’ fifth album and quickly became a #1 hit in both the UK and the US, as well as several other countries.

The song was written primarily by John Lennon, though it’s credited to Lennon-McCartney. Lennon later stated that “Help!” was truly a cry for help. At the time, the band’s surge in popularity overwhelmed him, and the song represented his feelings.

Musically, “Help!” is an upbeat folk rock song. The lyrics, however, show a deeper, more complex theme. It speaks of insecurity and vulnerability and a fervent request for assistance in getting back on one’s feet again.

Many other artists have covered “Help!” over the years, like Bananarama in 1989. It’s a key track in The Beatles’ discography, demonstrating the band’s musical evolution and their increasing sophistication as songwriters.

7. “Can’t Buy Me Love”

In March 1964, The Beatles released “Can’t Buy Me Love” as a single, and it later appeared on the album A Hard Day’s Night. The song quickly became another #1 hit in both the UK and the US.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” is noted for its upbeat tempo, characteristic of The Beatles’ early sound. Lyrically, it explores the theme that love is more important than money and that genuine affection can’t be bought.

Interestingly, it was the first Beatles song that gave Paul McCartney sole lead vocal duties. It was also featured in the film A Hard Day’s Night, in which The Beatles performed. The accompanying scene in the movie was a precursor to modern music videos.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” is remembered as an enduring classic, capturing the energy and enthusiasm of The Beatles’ early years. As a testament to its enduring popularity, the song was re-promoted (not re-released, retaining the same catalog number) in 1982 following the release of the film The Compleat Beatles and reached #21 in the UK.

8. “A Hard Day’s Night”

Many of The Beatles’ songs during the 1960s topped charts in the US and UK. “A Hard Day’s Night” is one of them, a single they dropped in July 1964 from the album of the same name.

“A Hard Day’s Night” is known for its iconic opening chord, which has been the subject of much debate among musicians due to its unique, complex sound. The chord, played by George Harrison on a 12-string electric guitar, instantly grabs the listener’s attention and has become one of the most famous chords in rock music.

The title of the song reportedly came from Ringo Starr. After a long day of work, Ringo remarked that it had been a “hard day’s night,” confusing two expressions “a hard day” and “a day’s night.” Lennon liked the phrase and decided to use it as a song title.

The song, the album, and the film all marked important points in The Beatles’ career, helping to solidify their popularity and influence during that decade.

9. “Love Me Do”

One of the notable songs in The Beatles’ discography is “Love Me Do,” the iconic debut single. This track was initially released in the UK in October 1962 and in the US in 1964.

Primarily written by Paul McCartney at just 16 years old, he later worked alongside Lennon to finalize its composition, marking the beginning of the iconic songwriting partnership. This early collaboration set the stage for their future success, making “Love Me Do” a pivotal moment in pop music history.

Interestingly, “Love Me Do” has three known recorded versions featuring different members on drums. One with Ringo Starr, another with session drummer Andy White and Starr on tambourine, and the third one featuring Pete Best, The Beatles’ drummer before Starr joined the band.

While “Love Me Do” wasn’t a huge hit upon its initial release, reaching #17 on the UK charts, it gained popularity after The Beatles’ breakthrough, and it eventually reached #1 when it was re-released in the United States in 1964.

10. “Penny Lane”

Released as a single in February 1967, “Penny Lane” was part of a double A-side, sharing the spotlight with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Written by Paul McCartney, it carries the signature Lennon-McCartney credit that adorned most of their songs.

The title itself is a nod to a street in Liverpool where both John Lennon and McCartney spent their formative years. As you listen, you’ll catch glimpses of McCartney’s nostalgic recollections of his younger days in Liverpool, with charming references to local landmarks and characters.

The song is musically noteworthy for its complex structure and its use of a piccolo trumpet, played by session musician David Mason, which was a departure from the instrumentation typically found in pop and rock music at that time. This contributes to its unique, baroque-pop sound.

“Penny Lane” was well-received critically and commercially. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #2 in the UK, blocked from the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me.”

11. “All You Need Is Love”

In 1967, the BBC asked The Beatles to write a song for the United Kingdom’s contribution to the program Our World, the first live international television broadcast, and “All You Need Is Love” was the result.

The song was performed by the band on Our World on June 25, 1967, and was watched by over 400 million people worldwide. The message “Love is all you need” was a simple one that could be easily understood by all nationalities.

The song was produced by George Martin, who incorporated a number of unusual elements into the track. This included using a 41-piece orchestra, layering in bits of other songs, including “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, and The Beatles’ own “She Loves You” at the end of the track.

“All You Need Is Love” was released as a non-album single that year and was later included on the American version of the album Magical Mystery Tour. It topped the charts in both the UK and the US, along with many other countries, and has since become one of The Beatles’ most popular and enduring songs.

12. “Ticket To Ride”

From the 1965 album Help!, we have “Ticket to Ride.” The song was also released as a single in April 1965, becoming The Beatles’ seventh consecutive #1 hit in the UK and their third in the United States.

The song was written primarily by John Lennon, although it is credited to Lennon-McCartney. With its distinctive, hard-hitting guitar riff, “Ticket to Ride” represents an important point in The Beatles’ career as they began to experiment more with their sound and moved away from their early pop-oriented material.

It features a distinctive drum pattern from Ringo Starr, contributing to the song’s unusual rhythmic feel. It also has a long, faded outro that was also quite innovative for pop music at the time.

The lyrics, while open to interpretation, have been suggested to describe a woman leaving her lover, hence “She’s got a ticket to ride.” However, as with many Beatles songs, the exact meaning of the lyrics has been the subject of speculation and debate.

13. “Eleanor Rigby”

“Eleanor Rigby” is a song from The Beatles’ 1966 album, Revolver. It stands out in the band’s discography for its somber lyrics and classical-inspired instrumentation, featuring a double string quartet arranged by George Martin, their producer.

The absence of any traditional rock instruments in the arrangement was a departure for the band. It highlighted their evolving, experimental approach to songwriting and recording.

Lyrically, “Eleanor Rigby,” tells the story of two lonely people: Eleanor Rigby, who “waits at the window,” and Father McKenzie, who writes sermons “that no one will hear.” The two characters never meet, and the song ends with the line “Ah, look at all the lonely people,” suggesting a meditation on loneliness and isolation.

“Eleanor Rigby” reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It has since been covered by numerous artists in various styles, including Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, highlighting its enduring appeal.

14. “Something”

Released as a double A-side single with “Come Together” and as a single from the 1969 album Abbey Road, we have “Something” as the next song. “Something” is noteworthy as it is one of the few Beatles songs written by George Harrison that was released as a single.

“Something” is considered one of Harrison’s finest compositions. The song’s lyrics describe a deep, mature love, in contrast to some of the band’s earlier, more youthful love songs.

The title of the song came from a phrase Harrison used as a placeholder (“something in the way she moves”) while he was writing the song. Musically, “Something” features a smooth, flowing melody that is complemented by the band’s understated performance and an expressive guitar solo from Harrison.

Upon its release, “Something” was widely praised and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. The song has been covered by numerous artists, most notably Frank Sinatra, who famously described it as “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.”

15. “Yellow Submarine”

We have a unique song from the other Beatles hits on this list in “Yellow Submarine.” Why? It was sung not by Paul McCartney but by Ringo Starr.

Released as a single in 1966, sharing a double A-side with “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yellow Submarine” tell the story of a man who sails the seas in a yellow submarine. McCartney intended it to be a children’s song, and it indeed became a favorite, topping the UK chart and being #2 on Billboard Hot 100.

The song’s distinctive sound effects contribute to its nautical theme and include recordings of ship’s bells, chains, and a band playing in a village hall to create the impression of a sailor’s hornpipe. These innovative touches were part of The Beatles’ ongoing experimentation with the possibilities of the recording studio during this phase of their career.

Despite its seeming simplicity, or perhaps because of it, “Yellow Submarine” has endured as one of The Beatles’ most popular and beloved songs. Its light-hearted, imaginative lyrics and memorable melody make it a standout track in the band’s discography.

16. “Here Comes The Sun”

One of George Harrison’s best-known compositions during his time with The Beatles is “Here Comes the Sun.” The song is from their 1969 album Abbey Road.

“Here Comes the Sun” was written by Harrison in Eric Clapton‘s garden while taking a break from band business. The song was inspired by the arrival of spring and the relief he felt upon realizing that winter was finally over. The lyrics and melody are filled with a sense of optimism and joy, reflecting the song’s uplifting title.

Musically, the song features a distinctive arpeggiated guitar part, a Moog synthesizer, and a rhythm track that incorporates handclaps and tambourine. This gives it a bright, fresh sound that complements the song’s sunny theme.

“Here Comes the Sun” was not released as a single but has since become one of The Beatles’ most popular songs. Its warmth and positivity have resonated with listeners. It remains a beloved classic and one of the highlights of the band’s late career.

17. “We Can Work It Out”

Released late in 1965 as a double A-side single with “Day Tripper,” “We Can Work It Out” was another commercial success for The Beatles, reaching #1 on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as other countries around the world.

The song’s lyrics center on a disagreement in a relationship, with the singer expressing his optimism that they can overcome their problems through communication and compromise, hence “We can work it out.”

This was reflective of The Beatles’ evolving lyrical content, which was beginning to move beyond straightforward love songs to explore more complex themes and emotions.

“We Can Work It Out” is often noted as a strong example of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, with each contributing different sections and ideas to the final composition. It remains a beloved part of The Beatles’ catalog and a favorite among fans.

18. “Twist And Shout”

The original version of “Twist and Shout” was recorded in 1961 by The Top Notes. However, it was The Beatles’ version two years later, sung by John Lennon, that made it famous worldwide.

The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” was recorded at the end of a marathon recording session for the Please Please Me album. The band had been recording for over 10 hours, and Lennon’s voice was nearly gone, but they decided to do the song in one last effort. His strained, raspy vocal is often cited as one of the song’s key features.

“Twist and Shout” became a major hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It’s one of the band’s most well-known cover songs and a staple of their live performances in their early years.

In popular culture, The Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout” is perhaps best known for its use in the parade scene of the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, helping to introduce the song to a fresh generation of listeners.

19. “Come Together”

“Come Together” was originally written by John Lennon as a campaign song for Timothy Leary’s run for governor of California, which was eventually cut short when Leary was sent to prison. Lennon repurposed the song for The Beatles’ Abbey Road album in 1969, and it became one of the band’s late-period #1 hits.

Musically, “Come Together” is known for its distinctive bass line and Lennon’s vocal performance. The song’s cryptic lyrics are full of wordplay and enigmatic phrases.

Interestingly, the song was the subject of a copyright lawsuit brought by the publisher of Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me,” claiming that Lennon had borrowed too heavily from the song. The lawsuit, however, was eventually settled out of court.

Despite its somewhat complicated legal history, “Come Together” remains a staple of The Beatles’ catalog and is one of their most enduring and popular songs.

20. “Strawberry Fields Forever”

The other side of the 1967 double A-side single “Penny Lane” is “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The song’s title is derived from a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool near where Lennon grew up named Strawberry Field. Its lyrics reflect the songwriter’s nostalgia for his childhood.

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is known for its complex and innovative production. The final version of the song was created by combining two different takes, which were in different keys and tempos. This required producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick to adjust the speed of the tapes to make the two takes match, creating a unique sonic effect.

The song also features a reversed vocal effect in the final verse, and its psychedelic sound is complemented by an equally psychedelic film clip, which was among the first examples of what would later become known as music videos.

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is considered one of The Beatles’ greatest achievements in the studio and one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era. Today, it remains one of the band’s most beloved and frequently analyzed songs.

21. “In My Life”

Primarily written by John Lennon, though credited to Lennon-McCartney, “In My Life” is a song by The Beatles from their 1965 album Rubber Soul.

Lennon began writing the song as a nostalgic reflection on his childhood years in Liverpool. Originally, it contained specific references to places he remembered, but the lyrics eventually evolved into a more general meditation on his past.

The result is a poignant and introspective song that stands as one of the band’s most mature and emotionally resonant works. The song’s lyrics are complemented by its melodic, folk-inspired music.

One of the standout features of “In My Life” is a distinctive keyboard solo played by George Martin. The solo was actually recorded at half speed and then sped up to create its unique, harpsichord-like sound.

While “In My Life” wasn’t released as a single, it has been covered by numerous artists, like Ozzy Osbourne and Bette Midler, further attesting to its enduring appeal. Over the years, it’s been recognized and ranked highly on various lists of the greatest songs of all time.

22. “Blackbird”

From The Beatles’ eponymous album in 1968 (also known as The White Album), we have “Blackbird,” a solo performance by McCartney. It features his voice, an acoustic guitar, and the sound of a bird in the background.

The song’s lyrics are simple yet poignant and have been interpreted in various ways. McCartney explained that “Blackbird” was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The blackbird is a symbol of a black woman “living in the dead of night,” or in other words, facing racism and societal injustice. The song is a message of hope, encouraging the listener to take these broken wings, learn to fly, and look forward to the arrival of a better day.

Over the years, “Blackbird” has been covered by many artists and bands, making it one of the most covered songs by The Beatles. Its powerful simplicity and the depth of its message have helped it remain one of the most beloved songs in their extensive catalog.

23. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”

Next is our first and only song from The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Primarily written by John Lennon, the song’s title and lyrics were inspired by a drawing made by Lennon’s son, Julian, who was then a young boy.

However, the song’s release was met with controversy as many read the title “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” as a thinly veiled reference to LSD, a powerful hallucinogenic drug. The Beatles and their management consistently denied this interpretation, stating that any such connection was purely coincidental.

Regardless of the controversy, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is often highlighted as a standout track from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s also considered a key song within the psychedelic music era, its fantastical imagery, and soundscapes representing the band’s interest in pushing the boundaries of what was possible in popular music.

24. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

Another hit from The White Album is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The song was written by George Harrison, the band’s lead guitarist, making it one of his best-known contributions to The Beatles’ catalog.

The inspiration for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” came to Harrison when he decided to write a song based on the first words he saw upon opening a random book. The words were “gently weeps,” hence the title.

The song is particularly noted for its guest musician: Eric Clapton. Clapton played the lead guitar solo on the track but was initially uncredited on the album sleeve.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is often celebrated as one of Harrison’s best songs and is a fan favorite. A stripped-down version of the song, featuring just Harrison on acoustic guitar and Paul McCartney on harmonium, was later released on the Anthology 3 compilation and the 50th-anniversary edition of The White Album.

25. “Get Back”

The Beatles released our next song, “Get Back,” on their 1969 album Let It Be. Soon after release, the song became another of the band’s #1 hits in both the US and UK.

One of the most iconic moments associated with “Get Back” is The Beatles’ rooftop concert on January 30, 1969. During this impromptu concert on the roof of the Apple Corps building in London, the band played this song alongside other tracks from the album.

The rooftop performance of “Get Back” not only marked the end of The Beatles’ live career but also highlighted the tensions that were building up among the members. These tensions would eventually lead to the band’s breakup in 1970.

Despite this, “Get Back” remains a testament to The Beatles’ unparalleled ability to create timeless, engaging music that helped shape the rock and roll genre. Today, it is regarded as one of the best songs by The Beatles and a classic hit from the late 1960s.

26. “Michelle”

As one of the softer and more romantic songs in The Beatles’ catalog, “Michelle” stands out for its lovely melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and the use of French to convey a sense of love and tenderness. The popular ballad appears on their 1965 album Rubber Soul.

The song is notable for its blend of a gentle acoustic guitar intro, McCartney’s angelic vocals, and the backing harmonies of John Lennon and George Harrison. Combining these elements, “Michelle” creates a beautiful and intimate atmosphere that perfectly complements its lyrics, which convey an almost yearning love for a French girl named Michelle.

“Michelle” quickly earned critical acclaim and became one of the standout tracks on Rubber Soul. In 1967, the song went on to win the Grammy Award for Song of the Year, marking one of the many accolades the band received throughout their illustrious career.

27. “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”

Another song from the album Rubber Soul hits this list. “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

“Norwegian Wood” is notable for its revolutionary use of the Indian sitar that George Harrison introduced to the band, which marked a significant step for The Beatles in their musical evolution.

In addition to the sitar, “Norwegian Wood” features an acoustic folk guitar strumming pattern played by Lennon, McCartney’s bass guitar, and Ringo Starr’s gentle cymbals and tambourine, providing a perfect backdrop for the introspective lyrics.

The song’s unique combination of Western and Eastern musical elements exemplifies The Beatles’ creativity and fearless experimentation, making “Norwegian Wood” a classic track that continues to inspire musicians and listeners alike.

28. “Day Tripper”

Though The Beatles has many more songs on their discography, we end this list with “Day Tripper,” a lively song they released in 1965 as a double A-side single with “We Can Work It Out.” The song begins with an iconic and recognizable guitar riff by George Harrison.

According to Lennon and McCartney, “Day Tripper” was written as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the rise of recreational drug use in the 1960s, with the term “day tripper” referring to someone who dabbles in drugs but isn’t fully committed to the counterculture lifestyle.

“Day Tripper” features energetic vocal performances from Lennon and McCartney, while Harrison’s driving guitar riff and Ringo Starr’s perfectly in-sync drumming contribute to the song’s upbeat tempo.

Upon its release, “Day Tripper” became an instant hit, reaching #1 on the UK Singles Chart and #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Today, it’s regarded as one of The Beatles’ classic hit singles and a staple of rock playlists worldwide.

Summing Up Our List Of The Greatest Beatles Songs

From “Hey Jude” to “Day Tripper,” The Beatles’ remarkable collection of chart-topping songs solidifies their legacy as one of the most extraordinary bands in history. Their ability to consistently produce hits that resonate across generations is a testament to their musical talent and enduring appeal.

We hope that this article exploring some of the best Beatles songs has brought you joy and nostalgia and perhaps even inspired you to revisit these timeless classics. As you continue to delve into The Beatles’ music, may their melodies continue to captivate your heart and remind you of the timeless power of great music.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.