Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Beatles

Go To
"We were just a band who made it very, very big, that's all."



  • Pretty much everyone since.

"A man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them... 'From this day on, you are Beatles with an "A".' 'Thank you, Mister Man,' they said, thanking him."
— "Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Beatles (Translated from the John Lennon)", Mersey Beat, July 6, 1961

"Ladies and gentlemen, THE BEATLES!" note 

A rock band of truly incalculable influence, The Beatles are credited by many with changing the face of rock and popular music, while for others they were at least major pioneers of the new style of pop-rock, and were a major force of The British Invasion. For a lot of people, they were also the face of The '60s. Not bad work for four young lads from Liverpool.

Arising out of the ashes of teenage skiffle group The Quarrymen, The Beatles formed on 17 August 1960 (though prior to that, the band went through a revolving door of names and members), with the initial stable line-up consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison sharing guitar and vocal duties, Stuart "Stu" Sutcliffe on bass, and Pete Best on drums. Originally just a small-time band, they gained enough professionalism to secure bookings as a house band for sleazy nightclubs in Hamburg, Germany, where tough audiences and gruelling performance schedules forced them to seriously improve as performers by the time they returned to Liverpool.

Sutcliffe didn't last too long, deciding not to return to Liverpool when the rest of the Beatles were forced to leave Hamburg at the end of 1960. Chas Newby briefly joined as bassist for a couple of weeks, but declined Lennon's offer to stay on in January 1961. Sutcliffe returned before quitting for good by mid-1961 to focus on his artwork, at which point McCartney switched to bass. Sutcliffe sadly wouldn't live to see his former bandmates become world-famous, dying from a brain haemorrhage in 1962.

Upon their return to Liverpool, the band faced a future that looked increasingly bleak, with few likely prospects outside of another tour of Hamburg. However, they drew the interest of a budding local music promoter, Brian Epstein, who then persuaded them to have him as their manager. As it turned, as far as music promotion went, Epstein proved a godsend with a knack for publicity combined with some bright ideas such as seriously cleaning up the band's scruffy image. The most obvious element of that was getting the band to abandon their leather-jacketed greaser look for a clean-cut suit and tie ensemble, even as they expanded on their mop-top hairdos which Sutcliffe's girlfriend, German art photographer Astrid Kirchherr, had originally arranged for them.

More fundamentally, Epstein's dealings introduced the band to a lesser-known record producer: George Martin, head of Parlophone Records, which was part of the EMI conglomerate. Martin was previously known for his work making albums for the popular radio comedy series, The Goon Show. Martin and the band hit off fairly quickly, thanks largely to the Four's charm, and his open-mindedness about music recording conventions meant that everyone was allowed to go in new directions. For instance, Martin decided, with the band's concurrence, that Best, who stayed up right up to their first recording session with Parlophone, had to be replaced with a better drummer. Best was infamously sacked and replaced with a veteran local drummer who had occasionally subbed for him on stage before, Richard Starkey (AKA Ringo Starr), just as they were about to make it big.

With that, the band began a meteoric rise to stardom that became truly international with hit singles like "She Loves You," "Love Me Do," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," all written by the band's primary songwriters, Lennon and McCartney. Eventually, the band went to America for three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show that sparked off Beatlemania. Amid that success, the band distinguished themselves by eventually realising they had the clout to expand their artistic horizons and become the best band, not simply as the biggest. For instance, John learned to write songs that dealt with far more than puppy love with newfound sophistication. At the same time, Paul tried out new recording techniques for the songs while branching out into new genres ranging from gentle folk ballads like "Yesterday" to arguably the first Heavy Metal song with the raucously throbbing "Helter Skelter." Meanwhile, George experimented with exotic new instruments be it traditional ones like the sitar or revolutionary ones like the Moog synthesiser that gave pop a wealth of new sounds to play with even as he developed his own songwriting and Ringo strove to expand beyond being simply the drummer even as he became the most popular Beatle in other media.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered by many critics to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time; it also has one of the most parodied and homaged album covers in the history of music. The simpler image on the cover of Abbey Road of the band walking in near-lockstep across the street is a close competitor for the most homaged cover (along with Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon), as is the half-shadowed band portrait that was used on the British album With the Beatles and its American equivalent/Macekre Meet the Beatles.

The Beatles were the first band in history to make music video equivalents to their own songs, which every musician does now. They played themselves in three fictional films: the pseudo-documentary A Hard Day's Night (1964), the James Bond parody Help! (1965), and the critically-panned surrealist television film Magical Mystery Tour (1967); they were also the subject of the documentary film Let It Be (1970). Their Celebrity Toon equivalents starred in two very different Band Toons, each with a distinct set of character designs for the Fab Four. Their wacky 1965 Animated Series was the first made-for-TV cartoon based on a real band (or any real people), and therefore both the Ur-Example and Trope Maker. Meanwhile, the 1968 feature Yellow Submarine brought kid-friendly psychedelic imagery to the masses.

In 1966 John Lennon gave an ill-thought-out comment that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now." He promptly apologised for it, but it had already been taken out of context by the press. John meant that Christianity was on the decline in Britain to the point that a rock band was a bigger draw — and in 2008, the Vatican admitted that he had a point — but Christian conservatives on both sides of the pond were too outraged to care about the subtleties. In addition, the concert tours were becoming a pointless exercise with audiences more interested in screaming so loud that the band literally could not hear their own music (which was primarily their older songs since their current material simply could not be reproduced with three guitars and drums) over the din. Furthermore, the band's world tours were a trial, with rock-bottom being in the Philippines when they inadvertently snubbed Imelda Marcos' invitation and were violently run out of the countrynote . At that, the band decided to stop touring and focused exclusively on studio recording in Britain, where they proceed to flourish artistically with that focus.

Once manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, tensions grew among the band. The transcendental meditation trip to India and John Lennon's fixated romance with Yoko Ono did not help. Paul increasingly had to take a stronger hand to keep the group cohesive through work, which the others resented however necessary it was. The argument over a new manager was particularly bitter considering that John, George, and Ringo wanted the sleazy Allen Kleinnote  while Paul wanted his future Family-in-Law, the Eastmans, to do itnote . Meanwhile, George was chafing at being treated as the junior member of the group by Paul, John, and George Martin even while his own creative work was increasingly deserving more consideration in respect and royalty revenues. All the while, Ringo was feeling increasingly irrelevant to the band's work, often having to sit out of the way for hours until he was needed to drum, culminating in him briefly quitting during the making of The White Albumnote 

The Let It Be sessions proved that the writing was on the wall for the Beatles, where George Harrison followed Ringo Starr's example and also briefly quit. Finally, John Lennon quit for good in September 1969. The band broke up in 1970 due to Creative Differences under circumstances painful to think about. Everyone went on to solo careers of varying success, most notably McCartney with Wings while Harrison topped them all in album sales with his post-breakup album, All Things Must Pass. The dissolution was finalised in 1974, but Apple Corps (the Beatles' management company) was left intact. For perhaps fifteen years, few people saw any purpose for that.

Of course, by 1974, all four members had topped the Billboard Hot 100 on their own.

But then a second wave of Beatlemania gradually hit, but unfortunately too late for John Lennon, who sadly had been getting the Posthumous Popularity Potential effect since he died in 1980—when he was murdered by a Loony Fan who took offence to his aforementioned "more popular than Jesus" remark as well as the leftist content of his solo output—but everyone else got to see it. The events leading to this, in order: the initial release of the British Beatles catalogue (plus the American version of Magical Mystery Tour) on CD in 1987; the Beatles being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the release of Past Masters (which collects all their non-album singles and rarities), both in 1988; Paul McCartney finally embracing his Beatles heritage fully in 1989, in the process settling the last couple of lawsuits and freeing Apple Corps to act; the 1993 CD reissues of the "Red" and "Blue" compilations; the release of The Beatles Anthology across three compilation albums and a documentary from 1995 to 1996, with "new" Beatles singles "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", which were composed of demos Lennon recorded while solo that the three remaining Beatles contributed to (and which Covered Up the Lennon versions);note  and the release of the 1 compilation in 2000, featuring all of the band's number one singles. Since then, Beatles-related stuff has come out just often enough, with carefully curated anticipation with each new media format, to keep second-generation fans on their toes and the fandom active and aggressive.

George Harrison died of cancer in 2001 and got some true posthumous fame as a relatively under-appreciated artist/humanitarian/patron-of-the-arts in his own right. Sir Paul McCartney (he was knighted in 1997) and Sir Ringo Starr (he was knighted in 2018) are still out there touring, doing a bunch of miscellaneous projects, and occasionally making records—and they both still write GOOD music. Even Pete Best released an album and began touring circa 2008.

The legacy lives on. An installment of Rock Band was made featuring Beatles songs and only Beatles songs. Not quite coincidentally, the entire catalogue has been remastered and was re-released on CD the same day. After years of legal disputes having to do with the "Apple" label, iTunes finally added Beatles music in 2010, which started a sequence of re-releases and various new compilations. In 2017, Giles Martin (son of George Martin) and Sam Okell began to remix the classic albums to bring them up from their original afterthought-ish stereo mixes to sound crisp and clear for the pleasure of modern listeners. Starting with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for its 50th anniversary, the pair have performed the same treatment for subsequent albums almost every year after for The White Album, Abbey Road, Let It Be, and Revolver alongside the 1962-1966 (Red Album) and 1967-1970 (Blue Album) complications.

In 2016, Ron Howard and Apple Corps released another documentary: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, focusing on their live shows and tours between 1962 and 1966. In addition to new interviews with Paul, Ringo, and members of their circle, it featured testimony from such young fans as Whoopi Goldberg, Sigourney Weaver, Elvis Costello, and Eddie Izzard.

It is difficult to explain just how significant this band's impact has been, because their scope of influence is massive, not just for music but for Western culture as a whole; the legacy of the Beatles is so great that Wikipedia has a thorough enough article on the subject to potentially be its own book. Among other things in the music world alone, the Beatles hold the world record for most album sales and most #1 hits on the Hot 100. Their decisions as musicians have shaped the industry; they are, for instance, the Trope Makers for the idea that real bands play their own instruments and write their own songs. And that's not even counting the covers; 12 of the 20 most covered songs of all time are Beatles songs (13 if you count "Imagine", which was a Lennon solo song), including numbers 1-4. If you like rock music, you are a fan of The Beatles — either directly, or by proxy because someone you are a fan of is a fan of theirs. They are, in short, the most influential rock band there has ever been, and rank among the most influential human beings (outside the scope of politics, religion, science, and economics) of all time, with the only other music artists rivaling them in this respect being Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 (as have all four of its members individually), and have won several Grammy Awards as well as a Best Music (Original Sound Score) Oscar for Let It Be.

As the band recorded over 200 songs while being signed by EMI, the number of studio out-takes and even unreleased songs (or just different song versions) is larger than the entire discography of many smaller bands. The commercial potential of virtually anything containing Beatles music was understood very early on and sparked a big bootleg market, partly fueled by the decision of EMI and the band to not release virtually anything that wasn't part of the original released recordings until the Anthology project materialised in the early '90s. With three double albums and an eight-episode TV series, most of the material finally saw a public release that way and diminished the market potential for bootleggers beyond the hardcore collectors.

You can vote for your favourite Beatles album by heading over to the Best Album crowner.

Similarly, you can vote for your favourite Beatles song by heading over to the Best Song Crowner.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold):

  • invokedPete Best - drums, vocals (1960–62)
  • George Harrison - guitar, lead vocals, sitar, bass, keyboard, percussion, synthesiser, ukulele, claves, tamboura, sound effects, maracas, tambourine, harmonica, kazoo, organ, drums, harmonium (1960–70, 1994–95, died 2001)
  • John Lennon - guitar, lead vocals, harmonica, keyboard, percussion, bass, organ, tambourine, piano, harmonium, sound effects, cowbell, mellotron, clavioline, saxophone, glockenspiel, ukulele, synthesiser (1960–69, died 1980)
  • Paul McCartney - bass, lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, piano, percussion, drums, maracas, double bass, cowbell, organ, güiro, clavichord, sound effects, mellotron, recorder, timpani, bells, flugelhorn, trumpet, synthesiser (1960–70, 1994–95)
  • Chas Newby - bass (1960-61)
  • Jimmie Nicol - drums (1964)note 
  • Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) - drums, lead vocals, percussion, keyboard, tambourine, maracas, bongos, timpani, cowbell, bells, cymbals, congas, piano, tubular bells, harmonica (1962–70, 1994–95)
  • Stuart Sutcliffe - bass, vocals (1960-61, died 1962)

Canonical studio discography: note 

See also Past Masters, below.

Live discography:

  • 1964 — Live! At the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 note 
  • 1977 — The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl note 
  • 1994 — Live at the BBC note note 
  • 2013 — On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2 note 
  • 2016 — The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl note 

Non-album singles:

  • 1963 - "From Me to You" / "Thank You Girl"
  • 1963 - "She Loves You" / "I'll Get You"
  • 1963 - "I Want to Hold Your Hand" / "This Boy"
  • 1964 - "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" / "Sie liebt dich" note 
  • 1964 - "I Feel Fine" / "She's a Woman"
  • 1965 - "Ticket to Ride" note  / "Yes It Is"
  • 1965 - "Help!" note  / "I'm Down"
  • 1965 - "Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out"
  • 1966 - "Paperback Writer" / "Rain"
  • 1968 - "Lady Madonna" / "The Inner Light"
  • 1968 - "Hey Jude" / "Revolution"
  • 1969 - "Get Back" note  / "Don't Let Me Down"
  • 1969 - "The Ballad of John And Yoko" / "Old Brown Shoe"
  • 1970 - "Let It Be" note  / "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)"
  • 1988 - Past Masters - collection of all the non-album songs listed above, as well as some other miscellany
  • 2023 - "Now and Then" / "Love Me Do" note 

Important compilations

  • 1966 - Yesterday and Today. The band's American label, Capitol Records, as an indirect result of reversing the English practice of not including singles on albums note , and thus needing to hold back songs, songs that would (for other bands) be Album Filler, was left with a hodgepodge of songs they decided to collect in a "new" album. So far, so ordinary; the problem came when the Beatles were asked to submit an album cover. They chose a photo they had done previously consisting of them in butcher's smocks, holding raw meat and parts of dolls. This, needless to say, led to controversy, and the album was quickly recalled. However, Capitol chose to release a certain number of the same physical albums with the "Butcher Boy" cover, with a new cover glued on (the Beatles sitting on a box, except Paul, who was in it — and yes, this would later be part of the whole infamous "Paul is Dead" theory). More here.
    • There are other Capitol "Odds and Sods" albums, but Yesterday and Today is probably the sole one worth mentioning on its own (see below for the others).
  • 1966 - A Collection of Beatles Oldies. Released during the Christmas season of 1966 when the band had no new album on the shelves while they were hard at work on Sgt. Pepper, this UK release was the first attempt at an official Beatles Greatest Hits album and featured a mix of album cuts like "Michelle", singles like "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and a cover of Larry Williams' "Bad Boy" that had been released in the US the previous year but was making its UK debut here. It was something of a sales disappointment for Parlophone in the UK that Christmas, but it was popular when released in other countries and was also a popular import to the United States.
  • 1973 - 1962-1966 (the "Red Album") and 1967-1970 (the "Blue Album"), probably the best known Greatest Hits compilations prior to 1. This release was partly sparked by the release of grey market bootleg hit collections as there was no Greatest Hits compilation available in the US, unlike for most other famous bands.
  • 1978/80 - Rarities. Two separate albums from the UK and US with different track listings and backgrounds. The UK version was released in '78 as an addendum for the 13-LP collection to also provide the singles tracks that were not on the Red and Blue albums mentioned above (as those didn't include many B-sides nor the Long Tall Sally EP). In 1980 Capitol released their Rarities in the US to release some songs that never made it on a Capitol release before, like the hit singles from '63 that were released by other labels before Capitol finally signed The Beatles in '64. Side 2 also features some actual rarities like two tracks from the mono version of the White Album which itself wasn't released in the US.
  • 1982 - 20 Greatest Hits — a compilation of, well, twenty of their greatest hits, released to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut single ("Love Me Do"). Notable for being the last Beatles album to be released with variants between the British and US versions note , and to all intents and purposes supplanted by 1 which was released eighteen years later.
  • 1988 - Past Masters — a collection of all official 1962-70 Beatles releases not included on the studio albums listed above. This includes most of the band's hit singles, such as "She Loves You" and "Hey Jude",note , the B-sides to those singles, and a few other rarities. Just like the UK Rarities, it was meant to augment the album catalogue, this time being newly released to the CD format, but also functioned as the de facto Greatest Hits compilation for that format until the CD reissues of "Red" and "Blue" in 1993 and the release of 1 in 2000.
  • 1995-96 - Anthology 1, 2, and 3. After decades of various 'hidden' Beatle material circulating as bootlegs, Apple finally released an official collection of (almost all) unreleased material. Notable mainly for 1 and 2 including arguably the last proper Beatles singles ever recorded, consisting of leftover John Lennon tracks backed by the remaining Beatles. Other than those two songs, the albums feature mostly studio out-takes, demos, and live performances.
  • 2000 - 1 — probably the best-known Greatest Hits compilation. The name is actually a double meaning — the album condensed things down to one CD (the Red and Blue albums are 2 CDs each)note  and consisted only of songs that hit number one in the British or US charts. This leaves out some notable songs that were not number one hits (like "Strawberry Fields Forever" which reached number two in Britain and was never released as a single in the US). Such was the demand for a single-disc set of the Beatles' biggest hits, even decades after their release, that 1 became the best selling album of the 2000s worldwide and sold 30 million copies (11 million of which were in the US alone).
  • 2003 - Let it Be... Naked. Paul McCartney's attempt to "fix" Let It Be. Met with mixed reactions, for obvious reasons. The Deluxe version included a second CD titled Fly on the Wall with background recordings made during the studio rehearsals.
  • 2004/06 - The Capitol Albums. Essentially, just the edited Capitol records albums as a pair of CD boxed sets. Of some historical interest because the Capitol mixes differ slightly from the UK releases (notably, in the use of Duophonic sound aka "mock stereo", and thus for many years the only stereo version available for many Beatles songs; see the Wikipedia article on the process), and Meet the Beatles and the U.S. version of Rubber Soul are arguably better albums than their respective U.K. equivalents. The collection just contains the first 8 popular albums, the '66 Yesterday and Today album was notably left out. Superseded by the 2014 The U.S. Albums compilation.
  • 2006 - Love. A collection of remixes and mashups of various songs, compiled for the purposes of having a Cirque du Soleil show featuring songs from the Beatles. The original versions were showing their age, and weren't quite up to the mixing needs of Cirque, thus resulting in a new mix being needed; George Martin and his son Giles supervised this new mix, with the permission of either the remaining Beatles or their widows.
  • 2009 - The Beatles in Mono. Part of the 2009 remastering project, for the first time the entire album catalogue for which official mono mixes were made was remastered and released on CD, in a full box set of which the albums were not individually available (and is also not available on streaming services like the stereo ones). Includes a Mono Masters double album that mimics the Past Masters compilation, but also includes previously unreleased mono mixes of the Yellow Submarine album songs as well as the 'clean' "Across the Universe".
  • 2014 - The U.S. Albums. Apple's take on releasing all US albums in a single collection. These include the Capitol albums that were left out the 2004/6 compilation as well as the non-Capitol albums like the '64 A Hard Day's Night soundtrack and the '69 Hey Jude compilation. While the 2004/6 compilation used straight transfers of the original LP masters (and thus disappointed slightly in sound quality), this compilation mostly used the 2009 UK remastered songs as its source, with some of the US versions actually sourced from US tapes, but some also 'recreated' which again disappointed the hardcore fans that expected a proper remaster of the original US discography.
  • 2015 - 1+. Video album of the various music videos, remastered to DVD and Blu-Ray, released together with a remix of the 2000 1 compilation. Most videos were already integrated into the 1995 Anthology tv-series, but there they were 'mixed' into the narrative, often with cutaways and voice-overs, as well as being in lower quality.

"The Fab Tropes":

    open/close all folders 

  • The '60s: They basically dominated the decade, as they began by starting the British Invasion.
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Lennon's "Pride comes BE-fore a fall" from "I'm a Loser".
  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • None of the Beatles received any formal training in music composition, and even their performance skills were mostly self-taught (with the exception of George's training on the sitar). Some of the innovation they displayed in their sound and style was because they hadn't been taught the "right way" to write music, and instead just did what sounded interesting to them. This also goes for Ringo, who played with a standard drum kit, despite being left-handed, allowing him to do riffs, fills, and other little tricks that were very difficult for other drummers using "proper technique" to replicate.
    • In an episode of Between The Lines about prosody, Kyle Kalgren points out how every single form of poetic meter in written verse can be applied to at least one Beatles song.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam".
    • "Bungalow Bill", "Rocky Raccoon" and "Sexy Sadie".
    • "Whisper words of wisdom, let it be..."
    • "Long Long Long".
  • Aerith and Bob: John, Paul, George, and... Ringo?
  • Affectionate Parody: With the Beatles being as popular and as influential as they were, there are literally more of these than can be counted.
    • The Rutles.
    • And The Monkees, to an extent.
    • The Beach Boys had "Girl Don't Tell Me" from the album "Summer Days And Summer Nights", which comes across as a parody of George Harrison's writing style, although the lyrics are quite Lennon-esque. In turn, The Beatles acknowledged being influenced by The Beach Boys for "Here There And Everywhere".
    • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Meet the Beat-Alls" is basically a protracted parody of every bit of Beatles trivia that the writer could remember.
    • Sgt. Pepper's Shout-Out and Abbey Road Crossing can usually be considered subtropes of this.
    • Deface the Music by Utopia is a particularly good Affectionate Parody which, like The Rutles, goes through a large portion of the Beatles' career.
    • The 1977 novel Paperback Writer by Mark Shipper. A hilarious absurdist revisionist history of their career (for starters, their debut album is called We're Gonna Change the Face of Pop Music Forever), ending with an ill-fated late-'70s reunion album and tour.
    • And for the Sesame Street-watching demographic, there was also The Beetles!
  • Age-Progression Song: "In My Life", "When I'm 64", "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".
  • Album Filler:
    • McCartney admitted that "Hold Me Tight" off With the Beatles was this.
    • In contrast to A Hard Day's Night which was all original material, Beatles for Sale is considered to contain a lot of filler since there are six covers the band had been playing since their Quarrymen days (as well as "I'll Follow the Sun", which was one of the first songs Paul McCartney ever wrote). Some of the covers are still well-liked, but "Mr. Moonlight" tends to be poorly regarded.
    • The Beatles also covered the Larry Williams song "Bad Boy" solely to fill out the US-only album Beatles VI. The song would not see British release until a Greatest Hits album in 1966.
    • From Rubber Soul, "Wait" was a song that remained from the Help! sessions.
    • Sometimes John composed songs just because he didn't have enough in the record, such as "Run for Your Life" in Rubber Soul and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" in Sgt. Pepper's. Lennon later admitted to hating these songs, although he hated "Run for Your Life" even more, perhaps more than any other song he had ever written, because of its misogynistic lyrics.
    • The White Album, the band's only double studio album, is sometimes criticised for this. George Martin even asked them to trim it down to one album since he felt there was too much filler, but the band didn't listen, being eager to fulfil their album commitment to the EMI record label as quickly as possible.
    • Some consider the George Martin composed orchestrations to be this on the flip side of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.
    • The inclusion of "Across the Universe", "One After 909", "Dig It", and "Maggie Mae" on Let It Be. "Across the Universe" was recorded in early 1968, long before Let It Be was released. "One After 909" was one of the first songs Lennon and McCartney had ever written; they recorded a version of it in 1963, which was never included on an album because they were never satisfied with it. They recorded a new version of it for Let It Be (while the original version was released years later on Anthology 1). As for "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae", when the album was remixed as Let It Be... Naked in 2002, they were even dropped from the track list.
  • Alternate Album Cover: The original release of the US-oriented compilation Yesterday and Today infamously depicts the band in butcher smocks, covered in raw meat and chopped-up baby dolls. After the artwork stoked controversy for its violent content, it was hastily replaced with a new photo depicting the band in and around a steamer trunk; copies with the original cover have since become a highly coveted rarity.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: One interpretation one can make of them adopting the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" persona for the song of the same name, in the album of the same name. "We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band..."
  • Almost Holding Hands: "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The upbeat melody implies the singer will touch his crush's hand and they will hold hands eventually.
  • And Starring: Billy Preston's work on keyboards with the band during the Get Back sessions earned him a special credit; the "Get Back"/"Don't Let Me Down" single was attributed to "The Beatles with Billy Preston". This was the only time the band shared billing with another artist.
  • Animated Adaptation: The Beatles Animated Series and the Yellow Submarine movie.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", its lyrics being drawn from a Victorian circus poster.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • McCartney's "I'll Follow The Sun" and "Good Day Sunshine", Lennon's "Sun King", Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun"... see a theme here? Subverted with Lennon's Happy Rain song, "Rain".
    • In Yellow Submarine, the animated Ringo says "I'd jump into the River Mersey, but it looks like rain."
  • Artifact Title: The name The Beatles is a pun on the genre Beat, which is what the band started off playing, but they changed their sound so much over the years that it wasn't really accurate by the time of Revolver. The casual music crowd of today doesn't listen to any other early 60s artists apart from The Beatles, so they are unaware of the context of the band's name. Luckily, it can also refer to the Beat of a song rather than just the genre.
  • Artist and the Band: Notably averted. When they were starting out in Liverpool in the late '50s, almost every rock n' roll group followed the naming format "X and the Ys." The future Beatles, then a trio calling themselves the Quarrymen, did not have a dedicated lead singer, with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison more or less taking equal time leading songs. They did play this trope straight for a single performance in 1958, where they called themselves "Johnny and the Moondogs."
  • Artistic License: The cover of Help! features the Beatles supposedly spelling out 'HELP' in semaphore, but in actuality, they're spelling out 'NUJV'. This is because they realised that their intended message looked rather awkward in semaphore form, so they instead went for a gibberish message in order to get a more aesthetically pleasing image.
  • Artistic Stimulation: The boys have admitted that the majority of their movie Help! was filmed in "a haze of marijuana," and that this was part of the reason that they didn't bother to take much creative control of the movie.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: In "Sun King", the last three lines of the song are "Quando para mucho mi amore de felice corazon / Mundo paparazzi mi amore chicka ferdy parasol / Cuesto obrigado tanta mucho que canite carousel", a faux mixing of Romance languages.
    Lennon: We just started joking, you know, singing "cuando para mucho." So we just made up... Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, you know. So we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something. And of course we got "chicka ferdy" in. That's a Liverpool expression. Just like sort – it doesn't mean anything to me but (childish taunting) "na-na, na-na-na!"
    • Also, 'que canite' can be heard as 'cake and eat it'.
  • Ascended Fangirl:
    • Two of the "Apple Scruffs" — fans that lurked outside Apple Studios constantly while the Beatles were recording—were brought inside to sing backup on "Across the Universe". Their off-key bleating was one reason why "Across the Universe" was given away to a charity album, and when the song was remixed for Let It Be the girls were mixed out.
    • Ringo's first wife, Maureen.
    • Paul's 60s girlfriend Jane Asher, to an extent. She met him when she was sent to cover the band during a gig at the Royal Albert Hall in which she was photographed screaming.
    • The boys themselves, too, when they reportedly had a private jam session with their idol Elvis Presley in 1965.
  • Avant-Garde Music: The band pushed musical boundaries by experimenting with new sounds and techniques in their work, though they always kept their ear for tuneful melody. The most important exception was also their most pop-music-unconventional track: "Revolution 9" on The White Album; this selection is a textbook example of musique concrete, influenced by the work of Edgard Varčse and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and anticipated by the last two album sides of Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention.
  • B-Side: Their B-Sides quite often became big hits in their own right, but "We Can Work it Out"/"Day Tripper", "Yellow Submarine"/"Eleanor Rigby", "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Come Together"/"Something" were all officially considered double A-sides. On November 15, 1969, "Come Together" was #2 and "Something" was right behind at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Finally Billboard decided to just change their policy and start listing a popular B-side along with the A-side, and two weeks later they combined as a #1 hit. Billboard also charted "The Long and Winding Road" and "For You Blue" as a double-A side.
  • Badass Boast: "When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best fucking group in the goddamn world."—John Lennon, 1980
  • Ballad of X: "The Ballad of John and Yoko".
  • Baroque Pop: Most of their later output, especially The White Album.
  • The Beat Generation: The name of the band was partially inspired by the Beats and Lennon in particular named Jack Kerouac as an influence. Allen Ginsberg later on became friends with the band, with Paul McCartney actually playing guitar on one of Ginsberg's albums.
  • Be Yourself: "All You Need Is Love" tells us that "Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time/It's easy!"
  • Better Partner Assertion: "This Boy" is from the perspective of a man trying to tell an ex that he cares about her feelings more than their new significant other does.
    Oh, and this boy would be happy
    Just to love you, but oh my
    That boy won't be happy
    'Til he's seen you cry
    This boy
    Wouldn't mind the pain
    Would always feel the same
    If this boy gets you back again
  • Bifauxnen: "Well you should see Polythene Pam/She's so good-looking that she looks like a man..."
  • Big "YES!":
    • "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah..."
    • Played sarcastically in "Polythene Pam."
  • Bigger Than Jesus: The Trope Namer came from a series of four profiles of each Beatle by Maureen Cleave in the Evening Standard, meant to show that they had a serious, intellectual side. In Lennon's interview, he did NOT say "we're bigger than Jesus" but rather "we're more popular than Jesus now", and he was aiming just as much at media hype as religion. Given the intensity of Beatlemania, that was a defensible statement. Additionally, the very real decline in interest in Christianity in the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 60s was a popular conversation topic among intellectuals in the country. As a result, the comment was published without controversy in Britain. The quote and even the whole interview had been printed in various American publications in the spring and early summer of 1966 without much comment. Then Datebook, a teen magazine that had recently undergone a shift in editors and was aiming itself at more sophisticated, politically left-wing music fans (almost like a proto-Rolling Stone) picked up the interviews and printed them to coincide with the band's American tour. It was when the magazine sent copies of the issue to radio stations in the Deep South that it blew up into a full-blown firestorm, garnering a great amount of ill will from the kinds of people who weren't inclined to like The Beatles in the first place (mostly religious fundamentalist types). The protests that dogged The Beatles over their American tour played no small part in convincing them to give up touring for good.
  • Biopic:
    • Birth Of The Beatles (1979) is about the early years of the band from 1960 to 1964, as they acquire a drummer in Pete Best, go to Hamburg, acquire a manager in Brian Epstein, get a record deal, fire Best, get Ringo into the band and achieve worldwide fame on The Ed Sullivan Show. Best was a consultant on the film, and it shows. Directed by Return of the Jedi's Richard Marquand.
    • John and Yoko: A Love Story (1985) is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but the first half also deals with the band's highs and lows in the 1966-70 period, including Peter Capaldi as Harrison. Yoko Ono was heavily involved, partly because the producers needed her cooperation for music rights, and predictably she gets a positive portrayal.note 
    • Backbeat (1994) depicts the group's Hamburg days and in particular the relationship between John Lennon, Stu Sutcliffe, and the latter's girlfriend/muse Astrid Kirchherr.
    • Two of Us (2000) is a fictionalised account of an afternoon Lennon and McCartney spent in New York City in 1976, going over the past and patching up their post-breakup friendship. Directed by Let It Be's Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
    • Nowhere Boy (2009) focuses on Lennon and his complicated family history but also dramatises his meeting with McCartney and the formulation of the band.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • Paul wrote "You Never Give Me Your Money" to voice complaints about the financial practices of Apple Records and Allen Klein.
    • Similarly, George wrote "Only a Northern Song" to gripe about the bad deal the band had gotten from their publisher, Northern Songs.
  • Black Comedy: The original, infamous "butcher" cover of the album Yesterday and Today. Also, at a stop in Australia, there's a brief clip of them mockingly shouting "Deutschland über Alles!" at the adoring crowd, just to prove they could say or do just about anything and the fans would keep screaming.
  • Blasphemous Boast: How remarks made by John Lennon were widely misinterpreted after telling an interviewer that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus."
  • Book Burning: After Lennon's infamous "Blasphemous Boast" comments (see above) made their way across the Atlantic, several radio stations in the southern United States organised mass protests wherein Beatles albums and merchandise were collected and burned on bonfires. This coincided with what would end up being the band's last American tour, and it's likely that the mass hysteria resulting from this contributed heavily to their already existing Artist Disillusionment towards touring. Official records of how many kids secretly replaced the albums and merchandise that was torched are unavailable.
  • Bookends:
    • The original Get Back album was supposed to have a 1969 photo of the Beatles in the exact same pose (and on the exact same balcony) that they used for their breakout 1963 Please Please Me album. This idea was abandoned when the Get Back album was reworked into Let It Be, but the photo was eventually used for the cover of the 1967-1970 compilation album.
    • Sgt. Pepper's opens with the title track, and the penultimate track is a reprise (if "A Day in the Life" is an encore of the band's concert or just a random song is up to you).
      • Possibly unintentional, but "Ain't She Sweet" appears twice on the Anthology albums — on the first disc of Anthology 1 and the last disc of Anthology 3.
      • To a lesser extent, the 2005 Live 8 concerts opened and closed with Paul teaming up with another artist to perform a Beatles song, though not the same one ("Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with U2 for the opening, and "Hey Jude" with every performer for the finale).
    • The opening verse of "Got to Get You into My Life" gets repeated at the end.
    • "Rocky Raccoon": At the beginning and the end of the song, he's checking into a hotel room and finding "Gideon's Bible".
    • "Now and Then", serving as the Beatles final release as of 2023, is backed on its vinyl version by "Love Me Do" — the very first A-side of the band's career.
  • Boy Band: Are sometimes referred to as this, at least for their early material, though as Ringo (among many others) have argued, this isn't really the case since they weren't manufactured by the record label, maintained full creative control, and wrote and played all their songs. (Not to mention there were four of them as opposed to five.) Still, their teenage girl audience, propensity for Silly Love Songs, and the TV and film appearances that gave each of them distinct, slightly fictionalized personalities all ended up proving to be highly influential on boy bands to come - most directly influencing The Monkees, generally considered the Ur-Example of a one.
  • Break-Up Song: "Don't Bother Me", "No Reply", "Baby's in Black", "I Don't Want to Spoil The Party", "You Won't See Me", "For No One", "Yesterday", "Not a Second Time", "I'll Follow the Sun", "Another Girl", "Yes It Is" (which in essence is a rewrite of "Baby's in Black"),...
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Journalist Maureen Cleave wrote of John, "He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England."
    • John even wrote a song about it called "I'm Only Sleeping."
    • He also wrote "I'm So Tired" — though that was less about laziness and more about despair.
  • British Brevity: Averted, with around 200 commercially-released songs in an initial run of eight years. Their early albums, though, could be considered examples if taken individually since they're mostly around half an hour, which is pretty short for a full-length album.
  • Broken Record:
    • "Wild Honey Pie" ("HONEY PIE! HONEY PIE!") and "Why Don't We Do it in The Road?", widely considered to be White Album Filler, although John once said the latter was the best thing Paul ever wrote.
    • Also from "The White Album":
      "Number nine...number nine...number nine..."
    • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band contained a few seconds of audio in the usually-empty runout groove of the record. On players that didn't have automatic pickup arm return (fairly common for cheaper players in the 1960s), this would loop until you got sick of it and turned it off.
    • The lyrics of the last four minutes of "Hey Jude" consist entirely of "Na, na na, na na na na, na na na na, Hey Jude" being repeated. Nineteen times.
    • "Blue Jay Way" ends with variations of a certain phrase being repeated 18 times. The phrase? "Don't be long."
    • "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" ends with 3 minutes of the same guitar riff repeated over and over.
  • B-Side: The Beatles' B-sides often weren't the typical throwaway song. Among the notable Beatles tracks released as B-sides were "This Boy", "She's a Woman", "Yes It Is", "Rain", "The Inner Light", "Revolution" (!!), "Don't Let Me Down" (!!!), and "Old Brown Shoe".
    • Sometimes they had two songs that were so strong they wouldn't even say one was the A and the other the B: "We Can Work It Out"/"Day Tripper", and, even more powerfully, "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane". This practice, usually referred to as a "Double A-Side", though not invented by the Beatles, was certainly popularised in the UK by them.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "It Won't Be Long", "With a Little Help From My Friends", "Getting Better", "Baby You're a Rich Man" and many others.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the middle of "Carry That Weight" they break into a new verse of an earlier '"Abbey Road'' track, "You Never Give Me Your Money", then they switch back to "Carry That Weight".
    • The lyrics of "Glass Onion" consist almost entirely of references to the band's previous songs, including "I Am the Walrus", "She Loves You", "The Fool on the Hill", "Fixing a Hole", and "Strawberry Fields Forever". In the last case, the song even includes a little snatch of flute as a musical echo of the original's introduction.
    • "She Loves You" and "Yesterday" are also quoted at the end of "All You Need Is Love."
    • Probably not intentional, but the first Christmas record for their fan club in 1963 uses re-worded renditions of "Good King Wenceslas" as a Running Gag. In the final fan club Christmas record from 1969, John sings a bit of that carol.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Not as frequently as might be expected, but "She's Leaving Home" leans in this direction.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • The American version of Magical Mystery Tour, which added the band's 1967 singles to Side 2 in order to make it a full album, solving the problem the Beatles had with the soundtrack in the first place (there were not enough songs in the movie for an album, and there was almost no incidental music to pad it with). The American version is now the canonical version, so much that the version in the 9/9/09 re-release also has the American box art. (Even the artwork on the actual disc is modelled after a record label from EMI's American Capitol Records brand, instead of its British Parlophone imprint as with the band's other pre-Apple albums.)
    • The stereo versions of their early work could also be considered this. They were mostly produced without the Beatles' involvement. The mono versions of all albums before The Beatles could be considered the "canon" versions.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • "Come Together" informed us that "One and one and one is three" and "He got feet down below his knee".
    • "O-U-T spells out" - "Christmastime is Here Again" (but this phrase is also a reference to schoolyard picking-games)
    • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band":
      But I thought you might like to know
      That the singer's going to sing a song
  • Careful with That Axe: The creepy screaming on "Revolution 9", Ringo's quite unsettling "I'VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!" at the end of "Helter Skelter", and Paul's full-throated screams (after a blistering opening guitar riff) on the single version of "Revolution"; John's on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", which is so alarming that somebody off-mic shouts a response.
    • This could also apply to Paul's soul-style screams during "Hey Jude" and "I'm Down," among other songs. These show clear influence of Little Richard.
  • Celebrity Toons: The Beatles had a cartoon series in the 1960s at the height of their fame. The real lads from Liverpool greatly disliked this series because of cheap animation and terrible voices (provided by Paul Frees and Lance Percival, who later was the voice of Old Fred in Yellow Submarine, which is a masterpiece compared to this series).
  • Changed for the Video:
    • The Beatles made videos for both sides of their "Hey Jude"/"Revolution" single. Both are filmed performances, semi-live (live vocals with at least some instruments synched from the recordings). The "Revolution" video is a hybrid of the single "Revolution" and the album version "Revolution 1", with the harder sound and faster tempo of the single but the "shoo-be-doo-wah" backing vocals from the album version. "Hey Jude" is a good minute shorter than the single, and if you listen to the long coda, Paul McCartney ad-libs different words, like when he gives a Shout-Out to The Band by quoting the "take a load off, Fanny" chorus from Band single "The Weight".
    • The filmed performances of "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" from the 1970 Let It Be film are different from the versions which were later released. The "Let It Be" recording, both single and album versions, is based on take 27-A from the Jan. 31, 1969 session, while the film version, which has never been released as an audio recording, was the next take, 27-B. In the filmed video, McCartney sings "there will be no sorrow" in the last verse instead of "there will be an answer". Similarly, the filmed performance of "The Long and Winding Road" is from the Jan. 31 session while the released song is based on a recording from five days earlier. Also, the live performance is in accordance with Paul's original conception of the song as a simple piano ballad, while the released version includes the stringed instruments and backing choir overdubbed by Phil Spector.
  • Chick Magnet: Pretty much the four poster children. Also the subject of "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby."
  • Coins for the Dead: Referenced in their Protest Song "Taxman", satirising what they saw as the draconian tax laws of Great Britain. The last verse implied that the tax collector wouldn't shy away from getting his hands on the dead man's coins.
    And my advice for those who die, Declare the pennies on your eyes
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • John Lennon is suspected to have been one of these.
    • It's hard not to conclude that Ringo was one as well—or if he wasn't then, he is now.
  • Comically Small Bribe: In 1976, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels jokingly offered the ex-Beatles $3,000 to reunite and appear on the show.
    Lorne: Here it is right here. A check made out to you, The Beatles, for $3,000. All you have to do is sing three Beatles songs. She loves you, yeah yeah yeah. That's $1,000 right there. You know the words, it'll be easy.
    • According to John Lennon in a 1980 interview, Paul McCartney was visiting him in New York City (during one of their very few friendly meetings post-breakup) and they were actually watching SNL together when Michaels made his appeal. Apparently, they strongly considered going down to the studio but decided not to.
    • George Harrison did show up in a subsequent episode in 1976, wherein he demanded the money and was appalled to learn that the $3000 was for all four Beatles. "$750 is pretty chintzy."
    • The joke got replayed when Paul McCartney did SNL in 1993 — apparently, he was hoping his touring band would also get paid. Good thing Alec Baldwin was there... (Or was it Jack Donaghy?)
  • Concept Album: Sgt. Pepper's is widely considered to be an early example of a popular music concept album, although there's little about it that intrinsically makes it such. Lennon admitted that after the first two songs they abandoned the "concept," picking it up only for the reprise of the title track.
    • You could alternatively view it as a collection of vignettes about British working-class life, though a few songs don't really fit that interpretation.
  • Concept Video:
    • The Beatles were among the first to make music videos. The video for "Strawberry Fields Forever" is a Concept Video.
    • The scene in A Hard Day's Night set to "Can't Buy Me Love" was among the first to pace quick cuts with the rhythm of the song. This technique has since become a staple of music videos and quite common in film and television.
  • Continuity Nod: A few shout outs to older songs exist. Notably "Glass Onion", which seems to be built entirely on this. Others include:
    • "I Am the Walrus" - "See how they fly, like Lucy in the Sky"
    • "Come Together" - "He got walrus gumboot.."
    • "All You Need Is Love" — they begin singing "She Loves You" as the song fades out. "Yesterday" can also be heard at the end of "All You Need Is Love"
    • "Savoy Truffle" - "We all know 'Ob-La-Di-Bla-Da'..."
    • The promotional music video for "Hello Goodbye" was one these, jumping between the band on stage wearing their early, mop-tops-and-suits look and their colourful Sgt. Pepper uniforms.
    • When the band was running through "Mean Mr. Mustard" during the Get Back sessions, Mean Mr. Mustard's sister ("she never stops, she's a go-getter") was named Shirley. When they reconvened to record Abbey Road and John Lennon revived the song, he changed Shirley's name to Pam to go along with another new song of his, "Polythene Pam".
  • Continuity Porn: "Glass Onion". Good to know the true identity of The Walrus and what has become of the fool on the hill and Lady Madonna... but it's also a good thing this is an album track and not a single.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender:
    • Their cover of "Boys", although, oddly, they did not change the title. Also their cover of "Please Mr. Postman."
    • "Devil in Her Heart" and "To Know Her Is to Love Her" qualify. They covered a lot of songs by American girl groups in the early days.
  • Cover Version: On their first, second, and fourth albums there are almost as many covers as there are Lennon/McCartney tunes. Afterwards, they got away from this and stuck almost entirely to recording original material.
    • Cover songs were common practice in the pop industry for the time, and it was largely the Beatles who turned the tide towards original performances. Their third album (A Hard Day's Night) may not have been the first album of entirely original compositions, but it was one of the most important.
    • Of note: If you go to WhoSampled's list of the most covered songs, more than half of the top 20 entries are Beatles songs (and that also holds true for the top 30 if you include Lennon's "Imagine"), and there isn't a single page that lacks at least one Beatles song. In other words: the Beatles get covered a lot.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Lennon depicts such a character in "You Can't Do That" and "Run for Your Life". See Misogyny Song for details.
  • The Cutie:
    • They were not sex symbols like Elvis, but girls still went crazy for them because they were considered "cute".
    • Among the individual members, Paul was nicknamed "the cute one".
  • Darker and Edgier: The Beatles' universe became significantly darker as they earned more freedom to write songs not just for the money, became more jaded at the superficiality of fame and lust, and transformed into very different people through their frequent drug experimentation. The definitive turning point was the single "Yesterday", which both dramatically went against their current image, and managed to be a great success. Their light and fluffy teen-pop image entirely dissipated after Rubber Soul came out, and after realising how vapid and meaningless their live shows had become, they ceased all touring.
    • In 1966 they constantly created unintentional controversy through some of their flippant statements and actions, angering many groups of people and shocking the classic fans who wrongly believed them to be the perfect role models. This was part of why they changed; they wanted to prove that they weren't teen icons with halos over their heads.
    • Though their spiritual drug use and studio experimentation allowed them to create many songs considered timeless classics, it also severely damaged their unity. By the end of and after their career, the four Beatles were stressed, bitter, and thoroughly sick of each other. Breaking up was the only logical option.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Lady Madonna" misses only Saturday. "Eight Days a Week" adds an extra day.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: The butcher cover is almost a literal example.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In Real Life, all four of them were - their early press conferences consisted of approximately five smart-ass answers for every serious answer to reporters' questions. They were from Liverpool, after all. It's in the water supply. This is most prominently on display during the film A Hard Day's Night, especially during the interview scene.
    Reporter at press conference: How did you find America?
    John Lennon: Turn left at Greenland.
  • Deconstructive Parody: The Mothers of Invention's album We're Only in It for the Money is just as irreverent as The Rutles' take on the Beatles, but decidedly less affectionate.
  • Determinator:
    • Ringo. He was born into a poor working-class family and was chronically ill as a kid, spending so much of his childhood in hospital with various ailments (pleurisy, an almost-fatal case of peritonitis, and then he busted his stitches while recovering from peritonitis so he had to spend even more time in hospital) that, when he finally emerged as a teenager, he'd missed so much of his education that he couldn't get a job doing anything clerical, while he was so physically puny from spending so much time in hospital that he couldn't do the only other thing available to a working-class Liverpool teenager, namely get a manual job. He was literally good for nothing — except that he loved drumming. He managed to score a gig with a skiffle group, and before long he was one of the most-wanted drummers in the city. The guy would not lie down, which is a clue as to why the rest of the band respected him so much.
    • George. Being the most business-minded member of the band, the first song he'd written for the band ("Don't Bother Me") never earned him any pay compared to John and Paul because the songwriting company he worked for called Northern Songs gave about 15% of the assets to John and Paul despite he himself being the one who wrote the song in the first place. So as a matter of being more prepared, he started his very own songwriting company named Harrisongs Ltd. around September 1964 so that once it was active (by around 1968), the songs he'd written during that time would mostly be his own property without anyone's interference and he would attain most of the assets as a result (George's 80% compared to John's and Paul's 15% from Northern Songs). Despite the restructuring of Northern Songs in 1965, he and Ringo were still earning less than John and Paul (1.6% compared to 15%), but during that time he was doing his own groundbreaking East/West collision music, which involved taking proper lessons on a ferociously difficult non-Western instrument (the sitar) from a master musician, Ravi Shankar (instead of just messing about with it á la Brian Jones). Paul, despite contributing to a lot of his songs, was unwilling to spend a lot of time on them, and John, even though he helped him a bit with some tips on songwriting, couldn't care less. Nonetheless, he persevered and continued to steadily improve his songwriting skills until pretty soon, one of his own songs got featured as the A-side of a record by 1969. He further pursued a solo career that was at least on a par with John's and Paul's, and arguably more consistent in terms of quality. He also released what to this day remains the most commercially successful solo effort by a Beatle, All Things Must Pass
    • Brian Epstein was well-to-do via his record store chain NEMS but was determined to make more of himself than that. He took on the job of band management in spite of never having done so and managed to do a reasonably great job at it given his inexperience. He also managed to hawk the same demo tapes to all of the record labels in England for many years; Parlophone, a small label known for classical and novelty records at the time, was literally the last gasp—if it had failed, the band would have given up. Epstein may have had much naivety in his dealings—the band stated often that he was as green at his profession in many ways as the Beatles were at theirs—and perhaps that may have led to the legal maze that the Beatles' copyrights and publishing/royalty issues are to this day (2014), but no one had expected or really knew how to deal with that unprecedented level of success the band achieved. It happened that many particularly shrewd business minds took advantage of the situation, and with Epstein's death and the confusion of Apple and the band's breakup, things understandably took a toll for the worse by 1970. (Brian also managed a number of other groups, such as Gerry and the Pacemakers, at that time.)
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: Their failed audition for Decca Records happened on New Year's Day 1962. It may seem odd that they went in on a holiday, but New Year's Day actually wasn't a holiday in England at the time (it didn't become one until 1974), so it was just a normal winter Monday in London.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: Apple Corps and Apple (Computer) Inc. had an argument dating back to the 1980s over the use of the name "Apple" as a trademark. The original agreement—that Apple Corps could never sell computers, and Apple Inc. could never sell music—seemed pretty sensible until the introduction of iTunes. This is part of why it took until November 16, 2010, for The Beatles' output to be available through that service.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "Norwegian Wood." The girl refuses to sleep with him, so he lights her apartment on fire.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: "Girl" is arguably this. Worse because no one believes him.
  • Downer Ending: "Eleanor Rigby", a ballad about a lonely old woman who dies alone at the end. Nobody comes to her funeral except the priest.
  • Dreadful Musician: The two Beatles that didn't make the cut, The Pete Best himself (George Martin suggested the band use a session drummer for their first record, whereupon the other Beatles fired Best) and Stu Sutcliffe (who only bought a bass to join the band at John's insistence, and usually was facing backwards on stage to hide his lack of skill).
  • Dr. Feelgood: "Doctor Robert".
  • Egocentric Team Naming: For a short time before they hit it big, they were called "Long John and the Silvermen, which, during their brief stint backing singer Johnny Gentle, changed to "Long John and the Silver Beetles". They also used the name "Johnny and the Moondogs". At an even earlier point, when they were just John, Paul, and George, they billed themselves as "The Japage 3", pronounced jay-page, a sort-of-acronym based on their own initials.
  • The End: "The End," which ironically is not the last track on Abbey Road. That would be "Her Majesty."
    And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
  • Enter Stage Window: "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window."
  • Epic Rocking: Throughout their first seven studio albums (up to and including Revolver), there are six songs which exceed three minutes. Epic Rocking for the Beatles is on a smaller scale, but they do have their share of longer songs.
    • Hardcore Beatles fans are dying to get a hold of the legendary 27-minute long version of "Helter Skelter."
    • There's a reason Ringo shouts "I GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!" at the end of the White Album version.
    • "Hey Jude" is over seven minutes long, thanks to the fact that the last four minutes of the song consists of nothing but "Na, na na, na na na na, na na na na, Hey Jude" being repeated nineteen times.
    • "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."
    • "It's All Too Much."
    • Number nine... Number nine... Number nine... (Note that "Revolution 9" was originally constructed around a coda of a lengthy performance of "Revolution 1", which remains unreleased).
    • The legendary unreleased track "Carnival of Light" runs for around fourteen minutes. McCartney has stated several times that he wants to release it, but he needs permission from Starr and the other two Beatles' widows to do so. It has not been released yet.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Paul and George first met on the bus to the Liverpool Institute. George and John both attended Dovedale Primary School.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: "Michelle" has a line in French, and a line in English, that mean the same ("these are words that go together well") and are sung to the same tune.
  • Evolving Music:
    • "Revolution 1" was initially recorded as a single, despite being a loping, ten-minute blues number that morphed into a chaotic sound collage. The Beatles decided to put this version aside, and instead recorded "Revolution" for the single - a faster, harder-rocking version of the same song. "Revolution 1" eventually appeared on 'The White Album'' with its first four minutes standing alone, and portions of the bizarre ending incorporated into the separate "Revolution 9."
    • John Lennon's "Child of Nature" was originally conceived and demoed by the band following their trip to India in 1968, but never released. Three years later. both were rerecorded with entirely new lyrics and released as "Jealous Guy" on Lennon's Imagine album. Likewise, George Harrison's "Not Guilty" was originally recorded for the The Beatles (The White Album) in 1968, but never released until Harrison revived it, gave it a much bluesier take, and released it on his self-titled solo album in 1979. His 1968 version was eventually released on Anthology.
    • A number of Beatles songs had their genesis in their early days but did not get album releases until much later into their career. "I'll Follow the Sun" and "Michelle" (released on Beatles for Sale and Rubber Soul in 1964 and 1965, respectively) date back to at least 1960, where it shows up on home recordings made by Paul McCartney. "One After 909" even went through a number of studio takes in 1963 before being scrapped. It was returned to for the Let It Be album in 1970.
    • Paul's "Junk", from his self-titled solo debut in 1970, was originally demoed during the 1968 pre-White Album Kinfauns sessions as "Jubilee", though the lyrics weren't yet finished and he didn't have much besides lists of things. Again, his demo appears on Anthology.
  • Expy: By design. The Monkees, the "Pre-Fab" four created to basically make a TV show out of the movie Help! and spin-off hit records along the way. Notably, John Lennon is on record as saying he enjoyed the series and said that the writing and performances reminded him of the Marx Brothers.

  • Face Framed in Shadow: The cover photo for With the Beatles/Meet the Beatles.
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" → "With a Little Help from My Friends". Then the "Sgt. Pepper" reprise → "A Day in the Life". "Back in the U.S.S.R." → "Dear Prudence" on The White Album.
    • Also, the B Side Medley on Abbey Road, aside from "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" → "Golden Slumbers". SCITTBW fades out completely before GS starts up.
  • Failed a Spot Check: No one in the court noticed Maxwell getting the murder weapon and stalking the judge in the courtroom? Rose and Valerie must have been making a hell of a commotion for no one see what Max was doing with his silver hammer.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Hello Goodbye," "Helter Skelter," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Free as a Bird".
  • Falling Bass: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Also occurs at the beginning of "All My Loving."
  • Fanservice: Pretty much the entire point of Help!.
  • Faux Symbolism:
    • Deliberately invoked with "I Am the Walrus," written after John received a letter from a student who attended Lennon's old primary school about an English master there who was forcing his students to analyse the band's Word Salad Lyrics. Upon finishing the song, complete with his classic "first-thing-you-see" lyrics, Lennon turned to his friend and said: "Let the fuckers work that one out!"
    • The completely random and nonsense line "semolina pilchard" is a reference to semolina pudding and pilchard sardine cans, according to John's childhood friend, Pete Shotton circa 1983. Another interpretation is that it is a Take That! to Moral Guardian Detective Norman Pilcher, who was more fanatical about arresting pop stars on drugs charges than about smaller things like actually following the rule of law, and had arrested both John and George on separate occasions.
  • Le Film Artistique: Magical Mystery Tour.
  • Foil: Lennon and McCartney tended to write a lot of songs on the same subject or with very similar musical techniques which showed the personality of both songwriters as well as the similarities and differences between them. Their singles tended to provide the best example of this - compare "Paperback Writer" and "Rain", or "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane", or "Hey Jude" and "Revolution", or...
    • "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" are probably the best example of this - both are in the key of G, both are full of special effects, neither uses that many chords and neither is a love song. However, where "Paperback Writer" is a gritty, fast-paced, journalistic sorta-first-person letter, "Rain" is a mystical, slow-paced sorta-third-person rant. It's even better if you compare both songs with "Taxman", Harrison's first song on the album that follows, which is again very similar and very different to both.
    • "We Can Work It Out" is usually taken to be an example of this, but the differences between their respective contributions have been exaggerated: Paul wrote the cautiously optimistic refrain "We can work it out" with the somewhat arrogant insistence "Try to see it my way", but his bits also include the borderline-despairing "There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long", while John wrote the philosophical and passive-aggressive "Life is very short, and there's no time..." middle eight (with the time signature change as George's sole contribution to the song).
    • "I Will" and "Julia", which are even paired together on The White Album, are also good for this - both songs are about a far-away love, someone whom the singer can not (and it's implied may never) be with. "I Will" is optimistic and hopeful, and written for 'you' - Paul is certain that you are out there, that you are the one for him, he is the one for you, and you will be together. "Julia" is melancholic and wilting, and written about 'her' - John knows that he'll never see her again, and is still nursing his broken heart.
    • To sum up: Paul wrote "I have to admit, it's getting better. A little better, all the time." John wrote "It can't get no worse."
  • "The Fool on the Hill", though it turns out to be a subversion since the Fool on the Hill is the only one who correctly recognises that the earth revolves around the sun, and he recognises that the people who deride him are the fools.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: John was the Optimist (slowly became the Apathetic by the end of his career as a Beatle), Paul is the Optimist, George was the Cynic, and Ringo is the Realist.
    • Their breakup happened only after they'd all taken a turn at being the Conflicted. John became it after he discovered LSD, then George's turn came when he discovered Eastern religion and when he began to take part in songwriting, and Ringo became it when he got sick of the intra-band fighting during the making of The White Album. Paul held out longest, but when the band's legal troubles got too much for him, he finally announced that he was quitting, thereby precipitating the timeliest breakup in popular music history.
  • Freudian Trio: Of the three founder members, Paul was The Kirk, George was The Spock, and John was The McCoy.
  • Friendly Rivalry:
    • With fellow beat group The Big Three when they were still playing the Cavern and Hamburg. Ironically, despite (or because of) Epstein being the Three's manager as well, they failed to gain much of any commercial success and were sadly forgotten.
    • To some extent, true of The Rolling Stones as well— supposedly, Paul and John met Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at a club in 1963, and during the conversation, the two Stones off-handedly suggested that the two Beatles write a song for them. Paul and John promptly went off to a corner of the room and returned a few minutes later with "I Wanna Be Your Man", which not only gave the Stones an early UK hit but spurred Mick and Keith to take up songwriting themselves.
      • The two bands actually made a point of coordinating their release schedules so that their respective singles and albums would come out at different times of the year, thereby ensuring that they wouldn't cut into one another's sales. (It probably didn't hurt any that '60s Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham had previously worked for Brian Epstein as a publicist.)
    • Also with The Beach Boys. To some extent, Sgt. Pepper was the Beatles' attempt to outdo Pet Sounds - which was Brian Wilson's attempt to outdo Rubber Soul.
      • Wilson's attempt to outdo Rubber Soul was depicted in the biopic Love & Mercy.
    • And, of course, this existed within the band between John and Paul. John would write a song, Paul would top it, John would top that, Paul would top that, and so on and so forth. Eventually, George's songwriting growth would make him the Unknown Rival. It's been argued that part of the reason John came out of retirement was that Paul was writing good music again.
  • From Bad to Worse: For the band, after Sgt. Pepper. While the music remained just as good as ever, the band members themselves started arguing a lot more often, to the point where the breakup was a Foregone Conclusion by the time it happened.
  • Generation Xerox: When John's oldest son Julian tried to make it big as a pop star, many people felt that he was trying too hard to imitate the style of his father.
    • Hell, everything about Julian Lennon. Both he and his father were born to parents too young and immature to raise a child; both were pretty much abandoned by their parents (though Julian did still live with his mother); and then, by the time they had mended their respective relationships, both times the parent gets killed by someone else. And Julian looks like his mother, Cynthia, and sounds a lot like his father.
    • Julian's younger half-brother Sean did better, at least from an artistic POV. Sean's 1998 indie-rock effort Into the Sun was different enough from not only Julian's more pop efforts but also the works of a certain other band who played the same genre as him who were endlessly indebted to his father, that it wound up being very well received. Sean reportedly shopped around the world for a record label that cared about his music and not his family name and found it in Beastie Boys' label Grand Royal.
    • There's also Dhani Harrison, who is half of the alternative rock duo, thenewno2. And by the way, his voice sounds nearly identical to that of his father. And he somehow looks just like George.
      • He looks so much like George that during the big tribute concert that Eric Clapton arranged a year after George's death, Paul quipped that with Dhani onstage alongside himself, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, and a lot of George's other longtime friends, "It looks like George stayed young and all the rest of us got old."
    • Zak Starkey - Ringo's son - plays drums for both Oasis and The Who.
      • His style is a lot different, though; he owes a lot to Keith Moon, though without playing exactly like him. Might have helped that Keith was his godfather...
    • Paul's son James has had a considerably more low-key musical career than any of the other Beatles sons, waiting until his mid-30s to put out his debut album on a small indie label in 2013. He has released one more album since then but has also played rhythm guitar on some of his father's albums.
  • Genre Roulette: They went from '50s-influenced rock to Merseybeat to jangly folk-rock to swirly psychedelia to acoustic pieces to blues, hard rock, soul, jazz, pop, music-hall, country, rockabilly, the avant-garde, reggae/ska, The Beach Boys influences, proto-punk, proto-metal, proto-prog, proto-funk... and yet, they developed their own distinctive style(s), and distinctive slant on the styles they tackled.
  • Girl Next Door Turned Superstar: In "Honey Pie", the main character's love interest (previously a working girl) has made it big in Hollywood, and he longs for her to come back to him.
  • God Is Love Song: "Long Long Long", though he isn't particularly mentioned.
  • Grand Finale: The Long Medley on Side Two of Abbey Road, complete with faux ending "The End" ("Her Majesty" is the album's final selection). Abbey Road as a whole was intended to be this for the band, though the release of Let It Be (which was begun first) ended up being pushed back long enough to cause an accidental subversion of the trope.
    • Though, on November 2nd, 2023 - sixty years since their first album and with the surviving members now in their eighties - what is more than likely the true finale for the Beatles was finally released. Now And Then; a song which stemmed from a tape recording of a John Lennon piano/vocal demo - one which Yoko Ono had kept hold of and eventually gave to the rest of the band - was finally completed. Lennon's voice was initially too buried under the piano and ambient noise to be usable but, following the Get Back series on Disney+, AI technologynote  had finally caught up to the point where Lennon's vocals could be extracted, before a song was mixed around it as normal.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The stereo versions of early Beatles albums harshly separated entire tracks (guitar, drums, etc) to one side of the stereo field. This was because stereophonic sound (stereo, for short) was still in its infancy at that stage, only really used at the time in movies. Recording engineers, well-versed in monoaural sound, had no real way to conceptualise stereo in their heads. As Beatles songs were recorded onto a four-track recorder, two tracks were hard-wired to pan hard left and hard right respectively; while the other two were reserved for vocals and overdubs, and those had pan pots, so that the vocals could sit in the centre of the stereo field or be moved back and forth. Meanwhile, it was popular at the time to have one's speakers sit directly beside the record player (with some cabinets having the speakers built right in), so the harsh panning really sold consumers on the idea of stereo — a more modern mix would have not been noticeable across speakers placed 2 feet apart. By the time of Abbey Road, both the music industry and the music consumer were sophisticated enough that that album was officially mixed by the Beatles in stereo (as opposed to all of their other albums, which were mixed by the band and George Martin in mono and handed off to other engineers for the stereo version.note )
    • Good luck trying to hear the vocals on "Norwegian Wood" from Rubber Soul if your right channel/speaker/ear is broken.
    • "Run for Your Life" puts the rhythm section entirely on the left channel.
    • "Taxman" from Music/{Revolver used the "I Feel Free" method, bundling everything on the left channel, leaving tambourine and cowbell on the right, and filling the centre with vocals.
    • "Rain" has everything in either one channel or the other.
    • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" puts the vocals on the left, and the rest on the right.
    • "Fixing a Hole" and "Lovely Rita" put most of the instrumentation on the left channel.
    • The Magical Mystery Tour album puts almost everything on the left channel, brass on the right channel, and the vocals in the centre. The exceptions: "The Fool on the Hill", "Your Mother Should Know", "I Am the Walrus".
    • "Yellow Submarine" throws the vocals on the right channel, and the rest on the left. The sound fx stay on the centre.
    • Most songs on the The White Album and some on Abbey Road separate the drums on one of the channels, and sometimes most of the instrumentation as well.
    • On the opening series of "Number 9" in "Revolution 9", "Number" is on the left and "9" is on the right. Makes it even more disconcerting.
    • The opening of "Back in the USSR" has a jet engine noise starting in the left speaker and moving gradually over to the right, designed to create the effect of a plane passing over the listener.
    • It's worth noting that this trope was the reason why George Martin remixed two of the group's earlier albums (Help! and Rubber Soul) when they were released on CD for the first time in 1987. He also wanted to remix their first four albums as well, but thanks to EMI, didn't have enough time, so they were issued with the original mono mixes instead.
    • According to Giles Martin, when he remixed the "1" album and several other tracks in 5.1 stereo to make the "1+" re-release, a bad mistake was made in the original (2.0) stereo mix of "Strawberry Fields Forever"; John's voice is supposed to have a Mellotron pulse under it, but in the stereo mix the voice and Mellotron got separated, so that mix sounds thinner than the mono mix.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several of them. Most notable are The Red and Blue Albums, Past Masters and 1 (all of which seen remastered issues since 2009).
  • Great White Hunter: "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill".
  • Grief Song: "Let It Be" and "Julia" about Paul and John's mothers, respectively. "Baby's in Black" is about someone else's grief. "She's Leaving Home" about a girl who ran away from home. "Yesterday" would be the most famous of quite a few "lost love" songs.
  • Groupie Brigade: One of the most extreme examples in popular music history. The band members initially took full advantage of this, though they later grew disillusioned with it.
  • Grow Old with Me: "When I'm Sixty-Four."
  • Has a Type:
    • Due to their adoration for French actress Brigitte Bardot, the women who the Fab Four became attracted to were blondes, as seen in this photo.
    • Cynthia Lennon dyed her hair blonde to get John's attention.
  • Heavy Sleeper: "I'm Only Sleeping", which is John talking about himself.
  • Hidden Track:
  • "Her Majesty" at the end of the Abbey Road album. Possibly the Trope Maker, being the first known song to be left at the end of an album after a period of silence, and without being listed as a track. Later printings of Abbey Road include "Her Majesty" on the tracklist.
  • "Can You Take Me Back", the song fragment on Side 4 of The White Album (included at the end of "Cry Baby Cry" on modern CD tracks), which to this day doesn't even have an official title.
  • Homesickness Hymn:
    • "All My Loving" provides an example of preemptive homesickness; the narrator hasn't left home yet, but he pours his heart out to his lover about how much he will miss her while he's gone, and how he will be faithful during his absence.
    • "Two of Us" is about two travellers who are on their way home, and eager to get there.
  • Hot And Cold:
    • Although male, John had a personality similar to this.
    • George. According to Ringo, "George had two incredibly separate personalities. He had the bag of love-beads personality and the bag of anger.".
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Leftie Ringo Starr played a right-handed drum kit, resulting in his signature style.
  • I Am the Noun: "I Am the Walrus."
  • Idol Singer: They were, in the beginning, a cute-looking mass-marketed pop band with screaming female fans. George Harrison referred to the band in the Beatles Anthology movie as "The Spice Boys". The success they had at becoming a pioneering art-rock band might have been looked over for a long while as a result; even by 1966-67 the Spear Counterpart they had on TV, The Monkees, was based on the 1964-era Beatles.
  • In the Style of:
    • "Rocky Raccoon," more or less an Affectionate Parody of cowboy ballads and Bob Dylan.
    • "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is supposedly John doing a song In the Style of Paul.
    • "Please Please Me", their first real hit, was a deliberate and blatant homage to Roy Orbison, whom they toured with soon thereafter; the original was a much slower, Orbison-style ballad and was sped up to its current tempo by producer George Martin. Now, without doing anything else to it as it is now, just try listening to this track from now on without ever being able to imagine Roy's characteristic warbling tremolo voice...I dare you!
      • "If I Fell" from A Hard Day's Night also...that "chord strumming" intro and song structure/style is classic Roy, vis a vis "In Dreams", etc.
      • PS: if you ever wondered how or why Roy and George ended up together in The Traveling Wilburys, there's your answer!
    • "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is basically John doing Bob Dylan (with John himself saying he'd never have used the "clown" line/rhyme otherwise).
      • "I'm a Loser" is also reminiscent of Dylan. And, of course, there's the "Like a Rolling Stone" pastiche of "Dig It".
    • "If I Needed Someone" is in the style of The Byrds. (George, by his own admission, took his guitar riff from their version of "The Bells of Rhymney".)
    • "Here, There and Everywhere" and "Because" are in the style of The Beach Boys (no, seriously — listen to those harmonies).
    • "Back in the U.S.S.R." is not only in the style of Chuck Berry but also a striking parody of The Beach Boys (who themselves took flak for an earlier In the Style of of Mr. Berry).
      • This one always gets played straight or inverted, however, with almost no one seeming to get the joke; it still gets played regularly on any and all Rock radio stations around the world with no tongue-in-cheek whatsoever, and even today Paul himself still plays it straight as part of his standard live-stage set...and he *wrote* the damn song!
      • Although Paul playing the song in his set doesn't mean he's forgotten its intent.
    • Some of their early hits, like "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand", display an unmistakable Buddy Holly influence. They also covered Holly's "Words of Love."
    • "Honey Pie" is a direct homage to the Tin Pan Alley/British music hall style.
    • "When I'm Sixty-Four" is a direct homage to the Tin Pan Alley/British music hall style.
    • Paul said he based "Helter Skelter" off of The Who. Supposedly, he was trying to top "I Can See For Miles", though the final product ended up being even heavier than that song.
    • "Baby's in Black" and "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" are in the style of The Everly Brothers.
    • "Lady Madonna" in the style of Fats Domino, and even covered by Fats himself.
    • "I'm Down" is obviously reminiscent of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," which they also covered; this is also true of Paul's lead vocals on "She's a Woman," "Helter Skelter," and the bridge of "I've Got a Feeling." Much of the group's exuberant nonsense syllable singing (especially in their early work) shows his influence.
  • Indecisive Parody: "Yer Blues". Lennon wrote it as a parody of the English blues scene, but the song rocks so hard that it succeeds on its own terms as a straightforward tune. Beatles scholar Ian MacDonald characterised "Yer Blues" as "half-satirical, half-earnest".
  • Instrumentals: "Cayenne", "Cry for a Shadow", "12-Bar Original", "Flying". Though only the latter is part of their official catalog.
  • Insult Backfire: All four were skilled at giving smart-assed answers to criticism, but Paul may have achieved the crowning moment at a 1966 press conference:
    Reporter: In a recent article, Time magazine put down pop music. And they referred to "Day Tripper" as being about a prostitute, and "Norwegian Wood" as being about a lesbian. I just wanted to know what your intent was when you wrote it, and what your feeling is about the Time magazine criticism of the music that is being written today.
    Paul: Well, we were just trying to write songs about prostitutes and lesbians, that's all.
  • Intercourse with You: "Please Please Me," "A Hard Day's Night," "Drive My Car", "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?", and others.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: John Lennon's "Bigger Than Jesus" comment, which was part of a much larger article, and came about because he was reading about religion at the time. It got misrepresented in an American teen magazine, resulting in the infamous controversy.
  • Job Song: "Paperback Writer" is a song about a man trying to make it as a paperback writer.
  • Jukebox Musical: Three of note, not counting Yellow Submarine.
    • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) — All-Star Cast fantasy that tries to wrap a storyline around Beatles songs and characters in them, as a vehicle for popular acts of the time: Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees, Alice Cooper, etc. While Aerosmith's take on "Come Together" and Earth, Wind & Fire's cover of "Got to Get You into My Life" are well-regarded, this movie also gave us George Burns singing "Fixing a Hole" and Steve Martin performing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". The silly story and frequent poor match-ups of songs to situations render it all So Bad, It's Good at best, and it was a major flop.
    • LOVE (2006) — This is the only one of the three that actually involved the Beatles, and it's not a standard example of the trope, but a Cirque du Soleil show. This live theater super-production (in a specially-built showroom at the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas) sets the company's trademark acrobatics and dancing to remixed versions of the group's original recordings, creating a metaphorical telling of their career and impact. The development of this show became the subject of the documentary All Together Now.
    • Across the Universe (2007) (2007) — Director Julie Taymor brings us a movie that uses cover versions of Beatles songs to recount the love lives, political exploits, and other adventures and misadventures of 1960s youths. Very much a divisive experience.
      • Having said that, if you are a big fan of The Beatles in general and don't mind a few lyrical changes, you're bound to at least enjoy the songs.
    • There's also "All this and World War II", which is a World War II documentary with covers of Beatles songs. It largely has a reputation for making no sense.
    • A Broadway show called Beatlemania! was around in the 1980s. A home video release of it, however, was plagued with problems. Glen Burtnik, who played Paul McCartney in the show, does many Beatles-themed tribute concerts nowadays.

  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: "I Saw Her Standing There". "Well, she was just 17/You know what I mean/And the way she looked/was way beyond compare..."
  • Last Chorus Slow-Down: "Magical Mystery Tour."
  • Last Note Nightmare: Rather a few.
  • The Last Straw: "But you'll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy truffle..." Eating candy isn't good for your teeth, folks.
  • Lead Bassist: Sir Paul is a Type A, B, and C.
  • "Leaving the Nest" Song: A darker take on this trope can be found in The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," which tells the story of a girl who runs away from home. However, the song doesn't focus exclusively on the girl herself — a large part of the song is dedicated to the anguish and heartache of her parents, who wake up to find their child gone.
  • Left-Handed Mirror: Paul's left-handedness allowed the Beatles to perform a little bit of stagecraft in which Paul would face John or George, and sing into the same mike with their guitars pointing the same way.
  • Lesser Star: Ringo in public perception, though the band reported he was the one who kept them together.
    • Furthermore, utterly inverted in reality. The other three had tried and failed previously to lure him away from his job with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, with whom he was already wildly popular in the local music scene. It wasn't until the Beatles had secured a record deal that they had something to offer him that he didn't already have.
  • Licensed Game: The Beatles: Rock Band, which came out on September 9, 2009; it's managed to attract split opinions, most detractors taking the It's Easy, So It Sucks! approach. The game features Unlockable Content in the form of picture/video galleries that are accompanied by band trivia/history.
  • Live Album:
    • Let It Be was supposed to be this, with the band rehearsing and recording their new songs live. The sniping and tension within the band (as well as the creative funk John Lennon was mired in at this time) led to several songs being dubbed or altered in the studio, most infamously Paul's "The Long and Winding Road". However, despite all the band's problems seven tracks were still laid down live: "I've Got a Feeling", "One After 909" and "I Dig a Pony" from the Apple rooftop performance, and "Get Back", "Two of Us", "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae" from studio performances. ("Don't Let Me Down", left off the album after being released as the B-side of the "Get Back" single, was also recorded live.)
    • Please Please Me. The Beatles recorded "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" for their first single on Sept. 11, 1962, with no overdubbing. They did the same for their second single, "Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why", on Nov. 26, 1962. After "Please Please Me" shot to the top of the UK charts, EMI wanted an album in a hurry. The Beatles and George Martin convened in the studio on February 11, 1963, and over a little less than ten hours recorded ten more songs, which were added to the A and B sides of the first two singles, with relatively few overdubs, and put out as an album.
    • The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Out of print for many years until the release of the Ron Howard documentary Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years in 2016.
    • Live at the BBC, a collection of appearances by the Beatles on BBC Radio from 1963-1965.
      • Likewise On Air — Live at the BBC volume 2.
    • The most famous/notorious Beatles bootleg album, Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962, recorded "with permission" by Ted "Kingsize" Taylor. The subject of a bitter dispute between Taylor and the Beatles, since (1) they were all drunk at the time, rendering the "permission" of dubious validity, and (2) even if valid, it didn't include permission to make any commercial use of the tapes.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: The Fab Four seem to like this trope.
    • "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" clocks in at 7:47, but just repeats the two lines:
      I want you, I want you so bad, it's driving me mad, it's driving me mad
      • and
      She's so heavy
    • Also from the White Album, "Why Don't We Do It In the Road":
      Why don't we do it in the road (4x)
      No one will be watching us
      Why don't we do it in the road
    • "Wild Honey Pie" repeats the line "honey pie" over and over, with the line "I love you" at the end. (Not to be confused with a separate song on another side of the double album called "Honey Pie", which is done in a totally different style, with the "normal" amount of lyrics.)
    • And then there's the short ending gag song on Abbey Road called "Her Majesty":
      Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl but she doesn't have a lot to say
      Her majesty's a pretty nice girl but she changes from day to day
      I wanna tell her that I love her a lot, but I gotta gotta belly full of wine
      Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, someday I'm gonna make her mine oh yeah
      Someday I'm gonna make her mine
  • Lonely Funeral: "Eleanor Rigby" provides the page quote.
  • Lounge Lizard: Paul's hilariously sleazy nightclub crooning in "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)".
  • Love Informant: In the song "She Loves You," "She" tells the singer that she loves "you," who is being sung to.
    She says she loves you
    And you know that can't be bad.
    She loves you
    And you know you should be glad.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: They liked this trope, doing it in "There's a Place", "All My Loving", "It Won't Be Long", "No Reply", "If I Fell", "I'm a Loser", "Help!", "You're Going to Lose That Girl", "Wait", "Nowhere Man", "Girl", "Eleanor Rigby", "Paperback Writer", "Yellow Submarine", "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "The Long and Winding Road".
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a cheery ditty about a violent Serial Killer.
    • In "Getting Better," the singer mentions he used to abuse his woman.
      • Never mind that the addition of the lyric "It can't get no worse!" gives the whole song a more desperate/sarcastic tone.
      • That line was actually a joke of John's from while they were recording. Everyone thought it was pretty funny, so they kept it in the final song. invoked
    • "Piggies" sounds like it could be a nursery rhyme, but the lyrics are George's sense of humour at its most pitch-black.
    • The hard-rocking "Helter Skelter" (of Manson Family fame) is about a slide. Like in a fairground.
    • They had one right out of the gate on Please Please Me with "Misery," a Break-Up Song that sounds just like the Silly Love Songs that make up most of the album.
    • Catchy, up-tempo, begs-you-to-sing-along "Run for Your Life", in which John Lennon promises to hunt down and kill his girlfriend if she ever cheats on him.
    • "I'm a Loser" is an up-tempo, major-key rocker. The lyrics feature Lennon mourning a lost love and proclaiming himself a loser. The next song on the album, "Baby's in Black", was written in response to Stuart Sutcliffe's death and is also in a major key but once again is lyrically full of anguish.
    • "Norwegian Wood" is a cheerful waltz about a man burning down a woman's house after she refuses to have sex with him.
    • "We Can Work It Out" sounds like an upbeat song about reconciliation with concerns about the relationship falling apart, but paying close attention to the lyrics and the singer comes across as a control freak with a "My Way or the Highway" attitude.
    • "Savoy Truffle" is an upbeat, jazzy song about tooth decay.
  • Malaproper: Ringo Starr, who inadvertently spawned the titles "A Hard Day's Night", "Eight Days a Week", and "Tomorrow Never Knows".
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Name-checked in "The Fool on the Hill".
  • Match Cut: From a squawking rooster at the end of "Good Morning, Good Morning" to the opening guitar lick of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)".
  • Medley:
    • The famous Long Medley at the end of Abbey Road. Most of Side Two of the album is taken up by a lot of short songs and song fragments blended together with great effect.
    • "Kansas City"/"Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!". It should be noted that Little Richard wrote the latter specifically to be performed in a medley with the former, and it has never been known to be performed separately.
  • Magical Asian: Maharishi Yogi, who became their spiritual advisor in 1968. Only George Harrison stayed the course and became a Hare Krishna devotee.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Manager Brian Epstein, who died shortly after Sgt. Pepper. Doubly subverted, as Epstein's death didn't cause the band to become more mature; instead, his absence left a vacuum which led to their eventual breakup.
  • Metafiction: "Paperback Writer", about a guy who writes a paperback novel about a paperback novelist wannabe and his erotic adventures.
    Dear sir or madam!
    Will you read my book?
    It took me years to write.
    Will you take a look?
    ...It's a dirty story
    Of a dirty man
    ...His son is working for the Daily Mail''.
    It's a steady job but he wants to be a
    Paperback Writer!''
  • Metal Scream: "Revolution," "Helter Skelter".
  • Mind Screw: "Revolution 9." While "Revolution 1" as it appears on The White Album is a slow, relatively tame rock song, "Revolution 9" is eight minutes of surrealist musique concrete. It's unclear what similarity exists between the two selections other than sharing parts of their titles.
    • The single non-album release "Revolution" is a much faster and heavier (and louder) version of "Revolution 1." As Giles Martin said on the sleeve-notes for Love, "even today it defines 'distortion'."
    • "I Am the Walrus". I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The Beatles is all white, save for the name of the album embossed onto it, and a unique serial number stamped on it (going for a bit of irony in something so plain also being unique from every other copy of it). Ever since fans have called it The White Album.
  • Misogyny Song: Amazingly, they have two notable ones:
    • "You Can't Do That" (from the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack) is from the POV of a jealous, possessive boyfriend who does not like his woman talking to any other men at all...
      If I catch you talking to that boy again,
      I'm gonna let you down,
      And leave you flat
      Because I told you before, OH,
      You can't do that.
    • ...though, it's pretty tame in comparison to "Run for Your Life" (from Rubber Soul). At its heart, the message of this song is that if you decide to end a relationship with the singer, he will brutally murder you if you don't escape him first.
    • In fact, John Lennon (who wrote both of those songs) was a noted womaniser in his earlier years. He later tried to atone for these attitudes and the songs he wrote with these attitudes during his solo career, with songs like "Woman" and "Jealous Guy".
      • Lennon also claimed that both "You Can't Do That" and "When I Get Home" (both on A Hard Day's Night) were his attempts to emulate American R&B star Wilson Pickett. "Run For Your Life" seemed to be a throwaway song written to fill out side 2 of Rubber Soul, with an opening line stolen from "Baby Let's Play House" (a blues song popularised by Elvis Presley) and the rest of the song branching out from there. It and Help!'s "It's Only Love" were considered "Old Shames" by Lennon, partially over the lyrics, which embarrassed him.
    • "Norwegian Wood" implies (and McCartney has confirmed that this was the intention) that if a woman invites you into her home and doesn't sleep with you, burning the place down after she leaves for work the next morning is a reasonable response.
  • Mockumentary:
  • Momma's Boy:
    • The titular character of "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" is "the all-American bullet-headed Saxon mother's son." And behind that tough exterior, he really does rely on his mom's defence when people start to question him - hence why he always brings her along on hunting trips "in case of accidents."
    • Lennon, McCartney and Starr all had very personal relationships with their mothers: John was raised by his aunt and was more of a friend to his mother until her death by vehicular manslaughter when he was 17. Paul talks about how his mother tried to raise him to be proper, and how hard she worked before her death. (He was 14 at the time.) Ringo was a straight example of his, as he became close to his mother when his father walked out on them.
  • Money Song:
    • Subverted with "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Baby You're a Rich Man."
    • Played straight with their cover of "Money (That's What I Want)" and "You Never Give Me Your Money."
    • George Harrison's cynical Beatles song "Taxman," written about the UK's then-95% top marginal income tax rate.
  • Monster Fangirl: Rose and Valerie in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • On the last side of The White Album, the contrast between the selections is stylistically extreme, veering respectively between the pop-conventional "Revolution 1," the old-time Rudy Valee-inflected "Honey Pie," the swaggering horn-spiked "Savoy Truffle," the introspective folk-like "Cry Baby Cry," and the musique concrete type surrealist "Revolution 9." After all of this, the album closes with "Good Night," a syrupy parody of emotionally saccharine songs. That this side stands out (on an already eclectic album) for its eccentricity is remarkable indeed.
    • Some singles and b-sides don't go together that well at all, such as putting "The Inner Light", an Indian classical/raga rock tune as the b-side of the rock n' roll/R&B influenced "Lady Madonna".
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Triumphant strings rising as John passionately sings "SEMOLINA PILCHARD CLIMBING UP THE EIFFEL TOWER" in "I Am the Walrus").
    • "Helter Skelter." One of the first metal songs ever was about a slide.
    • Paul's passionate yelling in "Golden Slumbers," to some.
    • "Savoy Truffle", a funky, horn-driven song about...Eric Clapton getting a toothache after eating too many chocolates.
  • Murder Ballad: "Rocky Raccoon" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
  • Musical Squares:
    • Let It Be is the Trope Codifier of the four squares version.
    • The original British version of A Hard Day's Night had various squares filled with the Beatles' heads, while the American version used a similar four-square cover to Let It Be that only showed the Beatles' foreheads.
  • Myspeld Rökband: They were probably the first to have a misspelled name as a stylistic choice.
  • Mythology Gag: The fact that the remastered albums and their Rock Band game were released on 9/9/09.Punchline 
  • Never Learned to Read: As accomplished as the Fab Four were, they never learned to read music.
  • New Sound Album: Pretty much every one of their albums from Rubber Soul forward could be considered one of these.
  • New Year Has Come: Their ill-fated audition for Decca Records happened on New Year's Day 1962 (which was just a regular workday in England back then. It didn't become a public holiday until 1974).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Paul's idea to get the band past the tensions of The White Album by going back to basics with a live album and concert did not work out well.
  • No Ending: Both sides of Abbey Road. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" ends abruptly in the middle of a riff, after three minutes of repeating the same sequence of chords. John Lennon told engineer Alan Parsons to "cut it right there", and Parsons did. "Her Majesty" was originally slated between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam", but the band decided to delete it. Tape engineer John Kurlander clipped it out of the master, cutting out the last crashing guitar chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard" along with "Her Majesty", but missing the last note of "Her Majesty", which was left at the beginning of "Polythene Pam". Since EMI's policy was to never throw away a Beatles recording, Kurlander then spliced "Her Majesty" onto the end of the master tape after 14 seconds of silence, creating a Hidden Track that ends one note too soon. The band liked the effect and left it that way. (The cut was a test-run of the crossfading and editing sequence, on rough mixes, not the final edit (if you notice, in the album version the final chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard" is also missing but because the new sequence makes it redundant; the final chord of "Her Majesty" is totally absent though). The "Her Majesty" part, however, is the original clip tacked on to the final master just the same it was in the rough edit.)
  • Non-Appearing Title: "A Day in the Life," "Tomorrow Never Knows," "The Ballad of John and Yoko," "The Inner Light," "Revolution 9," "Yer Blues".
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • The "Remastered in Stereo" box set released in 2009 is not quite what the name says; "Only a Northern Song" from the Yellow Submarine album is still in mono (though a stereo version appeared in 1999 in the film's "songtrack" album), as are the few mono tracks on Past Masters. Original master tapes for four early songs have long since been erased, making a true stereo release impossible, and the 1970 song "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" has yet to be mixed for stereo despite its master tape being extant, though a different edit of the song did appear in stereo in the The Beatles Anthology series.
    • Old Flattop in "Come Together". His name implies that his hair is cropped short, but he actually has hair down to his knees.
  • The Notable Numeral: "The Fab Four."
  • The Not-Remix: Many of their stereo mixes. The original UK releases of most of their singles and b-sides were mono-only, and thus many were only mixed into stereo if called for on an international album or compilation. The first UK album to have this as a selling point was "A Collection Of Beatles Oldies," although the US albums did it with some songs (when they weren't making fake stereo mixes out of putting reverb on the mono track). A notable example of this phenomenon was the "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" in 1999, which created some true stereo mixes for songs that never really had them (particularly, "Only A Northern Song" [whose tapes had been misaligned] and "Strawberry Fields Forever" [which famously had the second part of the song in mono because of being put together from a stereo and mono mix]).
    • The release "Let It Be: Naked" is another example of this trope, being the "Let It Be" album with the Phil Spector orchestral overdubs removed - although some of the songs are alternate takes and in one case "Don't Let Me Down", it didn't appear on the original album (being a b-side to "Get Back").
  • Nothing but Hits: Arguably the only artists whose entire back catalogue is familiar to the general public, although, due to copyright issues, they rarely appear on compilation albums alongside other artists.
  • Obsession Song:
    • "For No One" and "Julia." "I Will" kicks it up a notch - the singer is obsessed with the hypothetical someone he could fall in love with.
    • Also of note: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," which was about Yoko. John famously explained why it was lyrically simplistic thus: "When you're drowning, you don't say, 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me.' You just scream."
  • Ode to Intoxication: Did you think "Got to Get You into My Life" was a love song? It is. A love song about how much Paul McCartney loved to smoke marijuana.
  • One-Man Song: "Hey Jude," "The Ballad of John & Yoko," "Mother Nature's Son," "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill."
  • One-Woman Song: "Michelle," "Eleanor Rigby," "Julia," "Lovely Rita," "Lady Madonna," "Polythene Pam," "Martha My Dear" (although, fun fact, it was written about Paul's dog), "Dear Prudence," "Sexy Sadie."
  • Only Sane Man: "The Fool on the Hill." The Trope Namer.
  • Oop North: They're from Liverpool, after all.

  • Page Three Stunna: Seemingly alluded to in "Polythene Pam": "She's the kind of a girl that makes The News of the World; yes, you could say she was attractively built."
  • Parody: The song "Back in the USSR" is both a parody of Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" and a decent imitation of The Beach Boys' distinctive "Surfing Sound".
    • It's also suggested that it's an oblique (if not entirely affectionate) reference to Prime Minister Harold Wilson's "I'm Backing Britain" productivity campaign.
  • Performance Video: The Beatles were among the first to make music videos, and some of them are basically the band pretending to perform, such as the video for "Ticket to Ride."
  • Persona Non Grata: In July 1966, when the band was invited to join Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos for breakfast and a hosting party at Malacañang Palace in Manila, manager Brian Epstein declined the invitation without the band's knowledge, saying that it had never been his policy to accept official invitations. The Marcoses, who were not accustomed to taking no for an answer, felt slighted by the unintentional snub. Just before the concert, news footage was broadcast of empty seats, crying children, and Imelda Marcos saying they had let her down. They went on to play their concert at Rizal Stadium, while Epstein attempted to broadcast a public apology to no avail, as Epstein's audio was muted out of the broadcast, turning the Filipino public's sentiment against the Fab Four. When preparing for their outgoing flight to Delhi, India, they learned that their room service and security protection had been rescinded, and the hotel staff ignored them, with police escort service cancelled. Angry Filipinos harassed the Beatles as they arrived at the airport, with the escalators turned off and no assistance was rendered in carrying their musical equipment or luggage. When moving to a departure lounge, some thugs beat and kicked them from one corner to another, with the hostile crowds harassing them as their flight finally departed. As of 2016, none of the former Beatles had ever returned to the Philippines, despite an unsuccessful attempt by Filipino musician Ely Buenda to invite Ringo back to the Philippines.
  • Please Select New City Name: Averted with the real-life Penny Lane in Liverpool, which is named not after the coin but after an 18th-century slave trader of that name. Were it not for the Beatles' song, it would have been renamed years ago.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: "Real Love", "Free as a Bird" and "Now and Then" were all songs recorded by the surviving Beatles after Lennon's death (and by the time "Now and Then" was released, also Harrison's) based on demos recorded by Lennon during his solo career that the other Beatles added their own input.note 
  • Power Trio: Out of the three founding members, Paul (the band's most professional musician) is The Kirk, George (the most dry-witted and reserved) is The Spock, and John (the most rebellious and outspoken) is The McCoy.
  • Pretty Boy: They were definitely not hunks or sex symbols, but check out this fan account on Instagram and that's what you will think of them.
  • Protest Song:
    • Subverted with "Revolution," a protest about protesters (and specifically the Cultural Revolution with John's "Chairman Mao" reference."), though Lennon's vocals in "Revolution 1" have a more ambivalent take on protest in general, with his introductory "don't you know that you can count me out" being immediately followed by a parenthetical "in."
    • Played straight with "Taxman", a song protesting, uh, high taxes.
  • Punny Name:
    • Apple Corps. Especially since it's always spelled "Corps" (and thus pronounced "core"). John loved wordplay.
    • And a Pun-Based Title: Rubber Soul (sole).
      • During the recording of "I'm Down" Paul self-criticised one of his takes as "plastic soul" (you can hear it in Anthology 2). So Rubber Soul is actually a double pun.
      • Supposedly, Paul once overheard some black musicians using the term "plastic soul" to describe Mick Jagger's singing in The Rolling Stones. So the title might have also been a playful, in-joke Take That! to the Stones.
    • Another Pun-Based Title is Revolver. This one might take a second to figure out.
      • Before settling on Revolver, the group went through several other working titles for the album. One (probably facetious) suggestion from Ringo was After Geography, a play on the Stones' Aftermath from earlier that year.
    • Also, the name "Beatles" itself, though hardly anyone notices anymore, because everyone grows up knowing "The Beatles."
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Fourteen years after John's death, the other three reunited for The Beatles Anthology. During this time, Paul, George, and Ringo worked on fleshing out two of John's demos, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love."
    • There also exists some promotional film of the three of them jamming for the first time in decades. It would be their last time doing so, however.
  • The Quiet One:
    • George's image, although several of his friends have noted this wasn't true in real life. He just didn't give as many interviews as the other Beatles. The fact that George had strep throat on the band's first US tour in 1964 and was medically advised to refrain from speaking before performing.
    • Ringo. According to a book by Geoff Emerick (Here, There, and Everywhere), Ringo was actually the one in the band who said very little, always seemed to have his guard up, and lacked confidence in his drumming abilities. The other Beatles had to talk him into the drum solo he did on Abbey Road. He was also very uptight and nervous when it came to singing since he was not much of a vocalist.
  • Race Fetish: "Back in the USSR" has a few moments of this, parodying "California Girls".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • The film Let It Be was originally conceived as a documentary of the Beatles' "rebirth" as a live performing band. Instead, by capturing the tension and infighting among the band members (including a famous spat between McCartney and Harrison), it became a chronicle of the band's break-up.
    • Lampshaded by the choice of name. When originally conceived as a chronicle of the band's rebirth, the project was entitled "Get Back." By the time the pieces had been picked up and enough footage cobbled together to release as an album and film, it had metamorphosed into "Let It Be," effectively serving as the band's epitaph.
    • A more benign example is the movie Help! The band members have admitted they basically wanted to go skiing and hang out on the beach, so that's what got written into the script. Also, by 1965 they were paying so much tax that their accountants determined that they'd pay less if they earned money in a tax haven; if they were legitimately working there, then they didn't have to pay income tax on their earnings. Guess where's a tax haven? The Bahamas.
    • Real Life Writes the Song: "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!," "A Day in the Life," "She's Leaving Home," "Blue Jay Way," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," and many others. Lennon, in particular, did this constantly.
    • One very significant effect of the band playing to packed stadiums in 1964-66 with less-than-adequate guitar amps, equipment or PA systems, no monitoring as we know it now, and an understandably bad attitude to performing, to deafeningly loud screaming teenagers only interested in seeing four cute boys in person for 25-minute shows all over the world, was that the band's musicianship suffered (it didn't help that they ceased touring in 1966 and piecemealed a lot of their music in the studio), and they were unable to keep up with the new wave of more virtuosic performers like Cream or Jimi Hendrix Experience. Although obviously they never attempted to showcase virtuosity, this effect led the band to downplay their musicianship in favour of playing parts rather than solos, but their rustiness only showed through and the group often felt inadequate as players. This was especially true of George Harrison in particular, who had, in addition, spent more time for a while learning how to play sitar rather than guitar. It was also according to George why he took up slide guitar when guitar playing became more of a priority.
  • Rearrange the Song: The two different versions of "Revolution" released in 1968—the first low-key version, actually released second as "Revolution 1" on The White Album, and the hard-rocking version (which was closer to how it was originally written) released as the B-side to "Hey Jude."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Sexy Sadie" to the Maharishi, as well as "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" to a Great White Hunter they met in Rishikesh who loved to shoot tigers in the wild.
  • Record Producer: George Martin.
  • Recursive Reality: They named their last recorded album Abbey Road after the street on which the studio (then called EMI) is located. The studio was consequently renamed "Abbey Road Studios" after the album (the sign above the door is a representation of the album cover).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Paul is a stoic red and George is a stoic blue; it now boils down to John and Ringo.
  • Retraux:
    • "Honey Pie" was already a song done In the Style of Cole Porter, but the effect is strengthened by having one line—"Now she's hit the big time"—sound like a scratchy old record being played on a tinny old record player.
    • "What Goes On" from Rubber Soul is quite clearly a country song by way of '50s-era rockabilly, specifically Carl Perkins (whom the Beatles had previously covered with "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," "Honey Don't," and "Matchbox.").
  • Revolving Door Band: The band's predecessor/first incarnation the Quarrymen was one of these, with only Lennon surviving from Day 1. Even in 1960-62 the band gained and lost Sutcliffe, Best, and a number of short-time drummers. Only just after starting to record seriously did the band swap Best for Starr and begin its years of almost complete lineup stability.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Let It Be. It bears pointing out that the Let It Be project was originally called Get Back because this was precisely the idea (and that, of course, is also the reason the song was called "Get Back"). This was an attempt to return to the sort of spontaneous, energetic rock and roll they'd played at the beginning of their career - as opposed to the sophisticated and intricately produced music they'd moved on to. The recording sessions were a disaster, and they largely abandoned the "back to basics" approach for their last recorded album, Abbey Road.
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Met" with "met" in "I've Just Seen a Face" and "better" with "better" in the first verse of "Hey Jude".
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" was pretty much John just reading out a Victorian circus poster to a tune.
    • "A Day in the Life" was based on the headlines from a single day's newspaper.
    • "She's Leaving Home" was also based on a newspaper article, about a girl running away.
  • The Rival: To Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones.
  • Rooftop Concert: The band's final performance on the roof of the Apple Corps. building is the Trope Codifier, often recreated in various media as a Shout-Out and Homage.
  • Sad Clown:
    • Ringo was the drummer but was usually characterised as "The sad Beatle".
    • John in "I'm a Loser":
      John: [singing] Although I laugh and I act like a clown,
      Beneath this mask, I am wearing a frown...
  • Sampling:
    • As early as 1966, "Yellow Submarine" from Revolver features a few seconds of brass band music, lifted from the EMI tape archive. "Tomorrow Never Knows," which was recorded a few weeks earlier, features tape loops made by Paul of backward guitar, himself laughing and an orchestral chord in B flat major, cut from a recording of a classical symphony.
    • "I Am the Walrus" includes clips from a BBC Radio production of King Lear.
    • "Revolution 9" is a better example, being a work of musique concrete.
    • Also, the first few seconds of "Strawberry Fields Forever" are made up of flute samples played on a Mellotron.note 
  • Scare Chord:
    • At the beginning of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Her Majesty," and at the end of "A Day in the Life."
    • The end of "Strawberry Fields Forever". The song fades out, and after a few seconds is followed by a dissonant flute riff, some Scare Chord horns, and John saying "Cranberry Sauce" into another fade.
    • There's also a negative one at the end of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (where a sudden silence in the middle of a riff has this effect).
  • Scatting: "La la la la la la" chanting on the otherwise wordless "Flying" (off Magical Mystery Tour). More famously, "Hey Jude" with its four-minute coda of "Na na na na na na na, na na na na, hey Jude".
  • Seduction Lyric: "Please Please Me" was written in the early '60s, when an overly blatant seduction song wouldn't have been allowed on the radio — but a boyfriend saying "Come on (Come on), come on (Come on), Please please me..." to his girlfriend is surely importuning some kind of sexual favours.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Usually averted - the person who'd written the song took lead vocals (with some exceptions, especially involving the songs they gave to Ringo) and the other two (Ringo usually opted out) joined on harmonies. Exceptions were mostly Paul: "I Will," "Wild Honey Pie"... John also had a duet with himself (interpolating lines) on "Julia."
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • During many, many press conferences at the height of Beatlemania, all four members of the band frequently joked that they expected to flop at any moment. George Harrison also referred to himself and Ringo Starr as "economy-class Beatles," and in the 1980s freely described himself as "a middle-aged ex-pop star."
    • The song "With a Little Help From My Friends" is a humorous song about Ringo needing constant help from the other three Beatles in order to get by during their career, as he was easily the least talented of the four.
      • Funnily enough, the first two lines in the song were supposed to go: "What would you do if I sang out of tune?/Would you throw tomatoes at me?". However, Ringo was so self-conscious of his singing that he was afraid that people would actually throw tomatoes at him if he ever had to perform the song live.note  So the band changed the second line to: "Would you stand up and walk out on me?"
  • Self-Titled Album: The Beatles, although pretty much everyone knows it better as The White Album.
  • Serial Escalation:
    • From a string quartet on "Yesterday" to a string octet on "Eleanor Rigby" to a 40 piece orchestra on "A Day in The Life."
    • "Hey Jude" accomplished the seemingly untoppable feat of debuting on the Billboard Hot 100 at #10. Then "Get Back" also debuted at #10, and "Let It Be" entered at #6.note 
  • Series Fauxnale: Throughout their career, the press perpetuated rumours that the band was on the verge of splitting, particularly around the Revolver/Pepper period. Interestingly enough, when the band went in to finally record Abbey Road in 1969, no one officially stated that it was the last album the members were going to make together, even though they were considerably happier operating under the presumption that it was.
  • Serious Business:
    • It eventually got to the point that they had to stop touring after 1966 because their fans would reach such levels of hysteria that not even the band itself could hear their music. The group also found it difficult to reproduce their progressively more sophisticated song arrangements in live performance.
    • Perhaps the ultimate case of Serious Business is the fact that John was murdered by one crazed fan, and George and his wife nearly stabbed to death by another.
    • Speaking of which, this trope is what he was really, genuinely talking about when he uttered the famous words destined to be taken out of context: "more popular than Jesus." Anyone who has heard more than that one sentence fragment of the interview will tell you that he was talking about what Serious Business the Beatles were becoming for the fans, to the point of absurdity, and how he was not comfortable with being taken so seriously.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: They weren't as hardcore into this lifestyle like many other rock bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, or The Who, but they certainly indulged and did so when this was still an Unbuilt Trope. The Hamburg years were loaded with all three of these things with stimulants as the drugs of choice.
  • Ship Tease: Modern Beatle fans like the gay pairing of "McLennon." The most famous fan-fiction is Red Hall by Luciana_Jones.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The very name of the band was a Shout Out to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
    • The reference in "In My Life" to "lovers and friends/I still can recall/some are dead and some are living" is a Shout Out to Lennon's close friend and former bandmate, Stuart Sutcliffe, who died in 1962.
    • In "For You Blue": "Elmore James ain't got nothin' on this, baby!"
    • "Julia"—guess what the Japanese for "ocean child" is?
    • The cover to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band is one of the most famous Shout Outs in history, filled with images of figures the Beatles regarded as significant. Wikipedia has a list of all the notable personages pictured on the cover.
    • "Martha My Dear" is a Shout Out to Paul McCartney's dog.
    • In "Yer Blues": "The eagle picks my eye/The worm he licks my bone/Feel so suicidal/Just like Dylan's Mr. Jones"
    • The line "With your long, blonde hair and your eyes of blue" from "It's All Too Much" is a quote from "Sorrow" by the Merseys.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "I Am the Walrus" contains snippets from a radio production of King Lear.
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "With a Little Help from My Friends." Later in the album, the reprise of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" fades into "A Day in the Life."
    • The Side 2 medley on Abbey Road. You can hear John Lennon shouting "Oh, look out!" right before "Polythene Pam" segues into "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window."
    • The Cirque de Soliel musical Love fuses together "Tomorrow Never Knows" from Revolver and "Within You Without You" from Sgt. Pepper, to awesome effect. This track was later used on the The Beatles: Rock Band video game and on the Blu-Ray re-release of 1.
  • Signature Instrument: The Beatles are notorious among bands of their generation for preferring less expensive and less prestigious instruments than most later bands used—or at least, those instruments didn't become prestigious until the Beatles made them famous. They used them to begin with because those instruments were all that they could afford, and later because they came to prefer them. Among these are McCartney's Höfner 500/1 bass, which he still uses today (although not his original model, which got stolen); Harrison's preference for Gretsch guitars; and most famously, Lennon, Harrison and McCartney all favouring the then rather unloved Epiphone Casino over the guitar it was designed to be a budget version of, the Gibson ES-330. Lennon's Casino was his main guitar from 1965 to the end of the band's career. note 
  • Silly Love Songs:
    • Literally every last original song on their first five albums count. Not that there weren't plenty later on; "Paperback Writer" was the result of Paul's aunt telling him to please find a new subject.
    • Paul McCartney composed the trope namer, "Silly Love Songs", during his career with Wings after The Beatles, as an answer to the critics. That says a lot about the reputation he had acquired during The Beatles.
    • "Nowhere Man" off of Rubber Soul was the first original Beatles tune that wasn't a Silly Love Song.
  • Single Stanza Song: "Wild Honey Pie" and "Why Don't We Do It in The Road" off of The White Album; "Her Majesty" at the end of Abbey Road. Also, "Can You Take Me Back," the Hidden Track between "Cry Baby Cry" and "Revolution 9."
  • Sixth Ranger: "The Fifth Beatle," in this case.
    • Billy Preston was called this after he joined The Beatles for Let It Be. Producer George Martin, roadie Mal Evans, personal assistant Neil Aspinall, manager Brian Epstein, and former bassist Stuart Sutcliffe have also been called Fifth Beatles.
    • Paul has explicitly said that "if there was a fifth Beatle, it was Brian." The speed with which things began to go downhill for the band after Epstein's death seems to support this theory.
    • American disc jockey Murray The K referred to himself this way because of the amount of promotion and coverage he gave the band on his radio program in 1964.
  • '60s Hair: The band changed the possibilities for western men's hair, beginning with their Moptops.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very much down on the idealistic end of things, thanks to all their songs about The Power of Love and general association with the peace and hippie movements of the time. That's not to say they didn't have a more cynical edge to them, especially as their music got more experimental and the band's dynamic became more dysfunctional. It's generally taken as a loose rule that McCartney was responsible for the more optimistic, heartfelt songs while Lennon was responsible for the more caustic material. (Take the chrous of "Getting Better" as an example of both: McCartney sings about how things are getting better while Lennon adds "It can't get no worse!") Of course, Lennon wrote plenty of heartfelt, happy songs for the band ("Dear Prudence", "All You Need is Love") and McCartney wrote plenty of darker and more downbeat ones (including the infamously depressing "Eleanor Rigby" and "For No One", both off of Revolver) but however accurate, that's generally the rule of thumb people go by, especially since it maps pretty well to their solo careers. (Harrison's songs also skewed towards the middle, while Ringo's were all highly idealistic.)
  • Smarter Than You Look: George felt that Ringo's second song, "Octopus's Garden," was this. He described it as accidentally deep and spiritual.
  • Solo Side Project:
    • John recorded and released three experimental solo albums with Yoko Ono in 1968 and 1969 while he was still a member of The Beatles.
    • Paul released a score for the film The Family Way in 1967, making him technically the first Beatle to come out with a solo project. Also, his first proper solo album McCartney was released in 1970, just before The Beatles formally broke up.
    • George released Wonderwall Music and Electronic Sound in 1968 and 1969 respectively.
    • Ringo released Sentimental Journey in early 1970, a few weeks before McCartney.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Paul, after an unfortunate misunderstanding about the title "Hey Jude". Jude happens to be the German word for "Jew", and was used as an insult by the Nazis, so some people who hadn't heard the song itself found it offensive. Paul explained that the title wasn't meant to sound antisemitic and added that some of his best friends were Jews. The very idea that this song would be antisemitic shows that people didn't pay attention to the lyrics at all, where Jude is comforted by the singer to refrain from being sad.
    • There's also an Apostle of Jesus in the Bible named Jude, with his own epistle named after him.
  • Something Blues: "Yer Blues."
  • Song of Song Titles: "Glass Onion" on The White Album name-checks "Strawberry Fields Forever," "I Am the Walrus," "Fixing a Hole," "Lady Madonna," and "The Fool On The Hill."
  • Song Style Shift: Several abrupt ones in Paul's "You Never Give Me Your Money" and John's "Happiness Is a Warm Gun."
  • Spoken Word in Music: "I Am the Walrus" famously includes snippets from a BBC radio production of "King Lear." John Lennon drones out "cranberry sauce" at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever." "Revolution 9" is made up almost entirely of various spoken word samples. "Yellow Submarine" features the captain issuing orders like "Full speed ahead." Ringo whispers "good night" at the end of "Good Night." And the novelty song "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" includes John Lennon as a faux MC introducing Paul McCartney's nightclub crooner.
  • Stage Names:
    • C'mon, Ringo...there was nothing wrong with "Richard Starkey."
      • In his defence, it was a popular convention at the time for pop musicians to come up with a catchy stage-name rather than use their own.
      • In fact, Ringo only came up with a stage name because his entire band, The Hurricanes, was doing it (what, you thought their lead singer was *born* with a name like "Rory Storm"? His real name was Alan Caldwell.)
    • The rest of the Beatles toyed around with stage names during their early years, especially in Hamburg.
      • John Lennon tried out "Long John," as in Long John Silver, but it didn't take.
      • Paul was "Paul Ramon," giving birth to The Ramones in the process.
      • Also, Paul isn't even his real first name. His legal name is "Sir James Paul McCartney."
      • Inverted by George, who became instead "Carl Harrison" after Carl Perkins.
      • Original drummer Pete Best had a God-given birth stage name.
      • Original bassist Stu Sutcliffe became "Stuart de Stael," after the Franco-Russian expressionist painter Nicolas de Staël. Nobody got it then, either, although de Staël's early death weirdly prefigures Sutcliffe's.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Usually once per album for Ringo and twice for George. John and Paul's failure to allow George to grow out of this role, even after George had become their equal as a songwriter, was a key factor in the breakup of the band.
  • Stop and Go: "I'm only sleeping...[Pause]...keeping an eye on the world going by my window..."
  • Studio Chatter:
    • Quite a bit, mostly from John, on Let It Be. More on The White Album, including the end of "Piggies," the beginning of "Revolution 1," and most famously Ringo's "I'VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!" at the end of "Helter Skelter".
    • While never legitimately released, there's a widely-bootlegged (and absolutely hilarious) 20-minute outtake from a session for the Rubber Soul track "Think for Yourself." You can hear it here.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The intentionally awkward guitar solo in "All You Need Is Love."
    • The slightly off sounding "I think I know, I mean, ah yes, but it's all wrong" in "Strawberry Fields Forever."
    • And, of course, "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)."
    • George Harrison's "Only a Northern Song" is intentionally dissonant, as it is a Protest Song against being contractually obligated to write songs for which he received few royalties (see Take That!).
  • Subdued Section: "Help!"
  • Subliminal Seduction:
    • From Revolver onward, the band got into the habit of including backward messages on many of their tracks. Unfortunately this — along with a whole of unconnected, obscure, and sometimes outright random "evidence" — somehow managed to persuade a fair chunk of their audience that Paul McCartney was dead. The vast quantities of drugs consumed by many of them probably had something to do with it.
    • Some versions of Sgt. Pepper had the inner groove of side 2 as a perpetual final track - first a higher-than-treble sound only dogs (and some young listeners) could hear, and then backward music.
    • Unfortunately, some modern record players have auto-return, so you don't hear it. On compact disc, the "inner groove" plays for about 20 seconds before fading out.
  • Surreal Music Video: "Strawberry Fields Forever."
  • Swapped Roles: The band's nominal lineup was Lennon on rhythm guitar, McCartney on bass, Harrison on lead guitar, and Starr on drums, but they ended up doing this quite a lot, particularly in the later years. Several examples, among others:
    • The lead guitarist on "You Can't Do That," "Get Back," "For You Blue" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is John, while on "Another Girl," "Ticket to Ride," "Taxman," "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Good Morning Good Morning" it's Paul. Other songs have two members playing co-lead (typically George along with John or Paul), while "The End" famously features all three soloing in turn.
      • Paul also played rhythm guitar and acoustic on several of his own songs.
      • George played sitar on "Norwegian Wood" and "Within You Without You."
    • Bass: John on "Helter Skelter" and "The Long and Winding Road," George on "She Said She Said," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "Oh! Darling" and parts of the Abbey Road medley.
    • Keys: Although the band had no dedicated keyboardist, Paul filled this role most often, typically on piano. However, John played on several songs such as "I Am the Walrus" and "Obla-di, Obla-da" while George played Hammond organ on his songs "Only a Northern Song," "It's All Too Much" and "Blue Jay Way." On Abbey Road, both Paul and George used a Moog synthesizer.
    • Drums: Although Ringo's role was very rarely usurped, "Back In the U.S.S.R" and "Dear Prudence" have Paul on drums because Ringo had briefly quit the band when they were recorded.
  • Take That!:
    • George Harrison's "Only a Northern Song" is a swipe at Lennon and McCartney's publishing company, Northern Songs Ltd. Harrison wrote it to express his dissatisfaction over being screwed over on royalties from his own compositions. The following year George would found his own publishing company, Harrisongs Ltd.
      It doesn't really matter what chords I play/What words I say/What time of day it is/Cause it's only a Northern song
    • George certainly loved this trope, as his opening song on Revolver, "Taxman", is a giant take that against Harold Wilson's supertax.
      Don't ask me what I want it for/Ha ha, Mr. Wilson/If you don't want to pay some more/Ha ha, Mr. Heath
      • Actually, John wrote the part with Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. George went to John for help on "Taxman" during a period of time when Paul had a grudge against George for a publicly unknown reason.
  • Team Dad: John at the very beginning of the band, by virtue of being the oldest member, but once Brian Epstein started managing them he handled this role to a major degree. It's no accident that band unity broke down after his death. George Martin also served as this on the musical side. During the Get Back sessions Paul made an ill-considered attempt to become one.
  • Temporary Substitute: In June 1964, before the band were scheduled to tour Denmark, the Netherlands, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Ringo was stricken with a high-grade fever, pharyngitis and tonsillitis, and briefly stayed in a local hospital, followed by several days of recuperation at home. He was temporarily replaced for five concerts by 24-year-old session drummer Jimmie Nicol. Ringo was discharged from the hospital and rejoined the band in Melbourne.
  • Textless Album Cover: Abbey Road.
  • This Is a Song: "Only a Northern Song."
  • This Loser Is You: "Nowhere Man."
    Doesn't have a point of view/Knows not where he's going to/Isn't he a bit like you and me?
  • Three Chords and the Truth:
    • Much of their early music has a raw proto-punk feel with tuneful melodies and energetic, stripped-down arrangements (as does much early British Invasion music by The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Who). This was uncommon prior to that time with the exception of works by The Ventures and uptempo selections by Richie Valens. Subverted in that the Beatles' chord changes even back in this period are often non-standard for pop music of the time, relying a lot on third-related progressions.
    • Some of their later work — on The White Album, for example — reverted to this format. They rarely did "folksy" acoustic songs in their early days, and so some of these later songs probably represent this trope more accurately.
    • In their early pre-Beatles days, they would actually learn from word of mouth who knew this chord, or who knew that chord, and would take a bus across town to wherever they needed to get to, ride back home, and then they'd know how to play chord x.
    • The "Get Back" project was an effort to, uh, get back to this. It met with mixed success due to the dissension in the band.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Girl," "Don't Let Me Down."
  • Translated Cover Version: "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" ("I Want to Hold Your Hand") and "Sie liebt dich" ("She Loves You"), both in German.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)."
  • Troll: John wrote "I Am the Walrus," thrown together from abandoned song ideas and Lewis Carroll scenes, specifically to mess with people who would pore over his lyrics for hidden meanings.
  • Trope Codifier:
  • Trope Maker: As noted above.
    • There's a popular conception that they were the Trope Maker for, basically, the entire music industry as it stands today. The idea that real bands play their own instruments, the idea that real bands write their own music, the idea that real bands should get mega-popular and make gajillions of dollars: all these originated with the Fab Four. (They also made the music industry the financial juggernaut it is today since all the money that was going to the session musicians and songwriters and stuff ended up in the record companies' pockets instead.)
      • It is worth noting that The Beach Boys, in the early years when they were strictly a surf band, were also writing their own songs and playing their own instruments, and their first singles were recorded and released before those of the Beatles ("Surfin' Safari" gave the Beach Boys their first US Top 40 hit in June 1962, "Love Me Do" gave the Beatles their first UK Top 40 hit four months later). However, by the time of Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson was using session musicians extensively, not only for the orchestral instrumentation but the basic rock instruments as well. The Beatles were, with few exceptions, responsible for their own basic instrumental backing for the entirety of their career. Furthermore, as recording artists, the two bands are nearly exact contemporaries, just on different sides of the pond. Given that, it's probably fair to say that the Beatles, with their overwhelming popularity, were the ones who changed the industry more.
      • It is very much worth noting that the above "innovations" accurately describe Buddy Holly and the Crickets, who were a heavy influence on the Fab Four, not to mention Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
    • Music videos. The idea of the music video, a short film meant to promote a song, was pretty much unheard of before the Beatles made videos for their "Paperback Writer"/"Rain" single. The videos they made for the "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" single were even more innovative, as they featured avant-garde images of the band set to the music rather than simply miming a performance. One can easily make the case that several musical sections from A Hard Day's Night are the true ancestors of the music video: see both occurrences of "Can't Buy Me Love" and the opening appearance of the title track.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "And I Love Her," "Good Day Sunshine," "Penny Lane," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)."
  • Urban Legends:
    • The "Paul Is Dead" theories, all based on supposedly hidden messages on the Beatles album covers and song lyrics.
    • The 1970s saw a lot of urban legends concerning the possible (secret) reunion of the band. The most famous example was the initially anonymous Canadian progressive rock band Klaatu, whose vaguely "Beatlesque" sound fuelled speculation that they were a front for a reunited Fab Four.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • The bridge of "Here Comes the Sun" rotates between 11/8, 4/4, and 7/8. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" (from The White Album) has alternating measures of 9/4 and 10/4 in one section, and copious other time signature changes (including one section that can be counted as 4+2+4+5+4/4 or 19/4). While the chorus of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" is in Common Time, the verses are all in 7/8.
    • "Good Morning, Good Morning" both plays it straight and subverts it. Ringo's drumming is in straight 4/4 for much of the song, but there are significant portions of the song that change meter signature almost every measure. note 
    • "Strawberry Fields Forever" from Magical Mystery Tour is played mostly in 4/4 except for "Nothing to get hung about" in 6/4 and "Strawberry fields for-" in 3/8, with "ever" back in 4/4.
    • "Within You Without You" (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) perhaps takes the cake; it's based on Indian ragas with cycles of 10 and 16 beats. There's a more upbeat epic (sitar) rocking section that works out to be about in 5/4, but not always.
    • "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" (The White Album) contains mostly 4/4, but then drops two beats from the end of the chorus to add a measure of 2/4.
    • "Don't Let Me Down" (Past Masters) inserts 5/4 bars into the pickup to the verse of an otherwise 4/4 song.
    • "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" (The White Album), at the end of its refrain, uses patterns of 3+3+4/4, or 10/4.
    • The bridge of "Hey Jude" (Past Masters) could be counted a number of ways. One way to count it is eleven measures of 4/4 followed by one of 2/4.
    • This is far from an exhaustive list; John Lennon in particular really loved this trope. Detailed analysis of nearly all the Beatles' composition, which includes analysis of time signatures, can be found here.
  • Unplugged Version: George Harrison recorded a well-known acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It finally got released on The Beatles Anthology, and this version got a string arrangement added by George Martin for its release on Love. The string arrangement is the last piece of music recorded for a Beatles album.
  • Villain Song: "I Am the Walrus," by accident. John Lennon based the title on the Lewis Carroll poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter", but he didn't know at the time that the walrus was the villain. He went on to say that "I Am the Carpenter" wouldn't be as catchy, however.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The whole group could be like this at times, but no one more so than John Lennon and Brian Epstein.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Most albums had at least one song sung by each member of the band. (Ringo does not sing on A Hard Day's Night or Let It Be.)
  • The Walrus Was Paul: Trope namer. John Lennon reportedly was a little upset that people were trying to decipher deeper meanings from Beatles songs, including a report where a music teacher was having his students pour over Beatles albums to look for deeper meanings. So Lennon wrote a song based on a dream he had with Word Salad Lyrics, intending for it to defy explanation. The result was "I Am The Walrus", a completely trippy and nonsensical song. Allegedly, after he was done, Lennon said "let's see the little fuckers figure that one out".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Paul later noted that he forgot to add Saturday in the lyrics of "Lady Madonna," and guessed that after a busy week as she had, she probably went out for a good time.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: After their introduction to drugs, a lot of songs, most notably "I Am the Walrus."
  • World of Chaos: Some of their songs, including "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "I Am the Walrus," "Glass Onion," and the Yellow Submarine animated movie, take place in such settings.
  • Yandere: The intensely jealous narrator of "Run for Your Life."
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: "Hello Goodbye" and the single version of "Get Back."

"And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make"
— "The End", Abbey Road, 1969


Video Example(s):


Yesterday - The Beatles

One of the most famous songs ever written, Paul McCartney performs "Yesterday" during his time in The Beatles, a melancholy song about a break-up.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / BreakupSong

Media sources: