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YMMV / The Beatles

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Being one of the most famous bands in the world, The Beatles are definitely prone to people with a myriad of opinions. These are some of them.

Note: If you came here from the page for the cartoon, try YMMV.Beatles Cartoon.

  • Accidental Innuendo: The chorus from "Come Together":
    Come together
    Right now
    Over me
  • Adaptation Displacement: Who can listen to "Nowhere Man" and not think of Jeremy Hillary Boob, PhD.? Only someone who's never seen Yellow Submarine.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • "Hey Jude", while well-known today to be written by Paul to Julian Lennon (John's son who he had with his first wife Cynthia), got lots of this in its day, with John believing the song was meant for him and even a journalist believing the song to be about herself.
    • John also had a theory that song "Get Back" was specifically about Yoko, claiming that Paul tended to look in her direction when he sang it.
  • Americans Hate Tingle:
    • After John's comment that the band was "more popular than Jesus" (taken out of context), many American communities, particularly those in the Bible Belt, did things like mass Beatle record burnings and throwing objects at them during any of their concerts. They received no backlash of that sort in their homeland of Britain, where the comment was generally more acknowledged in context and less of an exaggerated blasphemous scandal. On the other hand, their records still sold just as well in America after the controversy as they had before.
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    • The Philippines are an even better example. Brian Epstein's fumbling of an invitation to visit First Lady Imelda Marcos when the Beatles played in Manila for one night only in 1966 led to violent anger from Filipinos. The resulting chaos played no small part in the group's decision to stop playing live concerts.
    • As for the record sales booming despite the controversy, John himself rather sardonically noted that in order to burn their albums, one had to purchase them first. There are also numerous anecdotes of kids publicly burning their Beatles albums before then secretly sneaking into record stores and replacing them. And, of course, despite all the hoopla this was mainly happening in a relatively small part of the country.
    • There were also some American rock and roll fans, particularly in the very early stages of Beatlemania, who resented the group for displacing the more home-grown sounds of rockabilly, doo-wop, surf music, etc. from the pop charts.
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  • Applicability: Paul's mom was the inspiration for the "Mother Mary" lyric from "Let It Be". When asked if the song referred to the Virgin Mary, McCartney has typically answered the question by assuring his fans that they can interpret the song however they would like.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: "Revolution 9" seriously clashes with the rest of The White Album (and the band's music in general), which is saying a lot considering how stylistically diverse The White Album already is. Lennon's decision to separate it from "Revolution 1" didn't help matters at all.
  • Broken Base:
    • Experimental rock aficionados dismiss their entire "Fab Four" era. Conversely, some fans of the earlier stuff dismiss their post-Rubber Soul output. And modern Beatles fans disagree over the merits of any work that was created after the band officially broke up — not just all the post-Beatles solo projects, but any music ever recorded by anyone at all after 1970. There are fans of nearly every genre of music out there who like The Beatles; thus, merely knowing someone likes them gives one no clue as to their taste in general.
    • Ringo Starr's drumming is a contentious point amongst Beatles fans. Some call him a creative drummer, others call him a terrible drummer, others find his drumming competent but boring. Some people have, however, acknowledged his competent-but-boring-ness as his greatest strength. In a band with three artists trying to go in different directions, Ringo was able to mould to their style and provide a solid backbone to whatever the other three cooked up. He allegedly mucked up two takes in all the years the band was together. And he only got one solo (on Abbey Road) to show what he can do.
      • Opinion on Ringo's abilities as a drummer tends to be divided between musicians and non-musicians. Non-musicians tend to think that he was a terrible drummer; musicians tend to think otherwise. Drummers in particular hold Ringo's drumming in *very* high regard, receiving particular praise for his groovy style, his emphasis on feel over displays of technical proficiency, and his creative, stylistic drum fills (most notably Come Together and A Day in the Life). He also popularised the matched grip that's ubiquitous today, and numerous high profile drummers like Phil Collins, Dave Grohl, and Tre Cool cite him as a big influence.
      • The true reason why there's only one drum solo in the whole of Ringo's work with the Beatles is that he hated solos. The others had to persuade him to take one on "The End", because they were all going to take guitar solos and they didn't want it to look like he was being left out. Ringo's opinion, which is shared by most musicians who have an opinion on the topic, is that he more than "showed what he could do" with his steady, selfless and rock-solid support of the band's music, which was based on precision and balance and not flashy musicianship. In an era that saw the rise of the hot drummer, from Keith Moon via Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker to Ian Paice and Carl Palmer, Ringo knew well that he wasn't in that kind of band. In any case, he'd already inspired a generation of kids to take up the drums in the first place, so, legacy intact.
    • Mono vs. stereo. This is, believe it or not, Serious Business. There is a substantial contingent of fans that applies Fanon Discontinuity to the stereo versions of all albums before The White Album. They have a point, since the Beatles themselves and George Martin both seem to have regarded stereo as a gimmick that wouldn't last and had little to no involvement with them. Even then, they weren't completely involved with the process; Abbey Road was, in fact, the only album for whose stereo mixes they were completely involved, with the result that it's by far their most modern-sounding stereo mix. The earlier Beatles stereo mixes were also made before modern stereo mixing practices became widespread, meaning that you have things like all vocals on the left and all drums on the right, both of which are regarded as serious no-nos in modern mixing. The White Album stereo mixes do this to a certain extent too, but not as flagrantly, and it is regarded as the first album on which the stereo mix surpasses the mono in quality.
    • The remixes on LOVE are either excellent to the point of being better than the originals or a tacky cash-in on their popularity.
  • Covered Up:
    • Who remembers The Isley Brothers' version of "Twist and Shout" anymore? Hell, who even remembers the original recording by the Top Notes?
    • This could apply to many of the band's cover versions. It's easier to list the exceptions ("Please Mr. Postman" and "Till There Was You"; the Chuck Berry versions to a lesser extent).
    • "With a Little Help from My Friends" is kind of fifty-fifty. It's certainly not an obscure Beatles tune; it's one of the more prominent songs from probably their most famous album. But a lot of younger people probably only know Joe Cocker's version as the opening theme to The Wonder Years. Also, Marmalade's cover of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," at least in some circles, as is Aerosmith's rendition of "Come Together," particularly due to the fact that it is in heavy rotation on many classic rock radio stations.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: It doesn't matter how horrible the sentiments expressed in "Run for Your Life" are; John Lennon just makes them sound so damn cool.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Invariably occurs during some of the arguments about whose fault it is the band broke up, usually taking the form of "Beatle X was a jerk whose solo material was completely worthless"/"Beatle X was the only sane member of the group and the others would have been nothing without him." John is a frequent Draco in Leather Pants, Yoko a Ron the Death Eater, and Paul is both.
    • Maxwell Edison is an in-universe example.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • "Quiet Beatle" George Harrison, who was generally overshadowed by the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, released the triple album All Things Must Pass after the band broke up. To this day, it's the top selling album by any solo Beatle. His record company was even named Dark Horse Records, after one of his albums. Additionally, "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun," his two contributions to the Abbey Road album, are regarded as being among the finest of the band's songs.
    • Brian Epstein is often very respected by fans due to being a sort of Team Dad for the Beatles and being a complete subversion of the stereotypical bad band manager. It's often speculated that Brian's death was one of the key factors in the Beatles' eventual break up.
  • Epileptic Trees: The "Paul Is Dead" theory, that Paul died in November 1966 and was replaced by a look-and-sound-alike Scotsman named William Shears Campbell. Initially, the "clue hunting" for this was based around finding hidden messages in the band's songs and album artwork. However, eventually believers in the theory began alleging that Paul had differences in his facial structure and voice post-1966 that proved the death. Many fans who don't believe the theory joke that if anything, the supposed death was a good thing because the fake Paul was the superior musician.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Some fans try to find symbolism in every song. The worst was Charles Manson, who used The White Album, most famously "Helter Skelter", to mobilize his murders.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Lo, it is written that where two or three fans are gathered together in the name of The Beatles, they shall discuss which songs would have made the cut if The White Album had been a single disc. Another popular Alternate History scenario is to suppose the group had not split up in 1970, and use the members' solo albums to assemble plausible tracklists for subsequent Beatles LPs.
    • There are a number of (mainly female) fans who ship Lennon and McCartney. It's called "Mc Lennon."
    • There's also Mc Starr, Starrison, and so forth....
    • ...not to mention fan art, especially those inspired by "Octopus's Garden."
      • The movies, especially Help! , do not help.
    • The "Paul is Dead" conspiracy theory has inspired quite a few angst fics.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With The Rolling Stones, ever since the sixties. Although quite an overlap has built (it helps the musicians are friends).
    • During their psycedelic period, The Beach Boys. Go find any Pet Sounds song on YouTube and read all of the comments arguing over who is better/was the most influential. It gets ugly real fast.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • John saying "Shoot Me" over and over again in "Come Together".
    • John singing "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is kinda creepy too.
    • Even creepier - If you look in the booklet included in the Magical Mystery Tour album, there is a picture of John as he's leaving a small corner store. Just behind him is a sign that reads, "The best way to go is M. & D. Co". Obviously not related, but M.D.C. are the initials of Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman. *shudder*
    • A mid-'60s interview featured John being asked how he thought he would die. His response? "I'll probably be popped off by some loony."
    • In the Yellow Submarine animated movie, the Beatles accidentally Time Travel to the 2000s (it's a setup for "When I'm 64") and see their future selves out the window of the submarine. Ringo remarks, "There's only two of us."note 
    • One scene in Help! has John being held at gun point. Ditto Yellow Submarine.
    • "We Can Work It Out": "Life is very short/and there's no time/for fussing and fighting, my friend..."
    • In one of their early interviews in America, John is asked what kind of girls he likes, to which he responds, "My wife." Seconds later, George is asked the same question, and he says "John's wife!", much to the amusement of the other three. This becomes decidedly less funny after you find out that George actually had an affair with Ringo's wife years later.
    • The video for "Something" from Abbey Road, on so many levels:
      • It's made up of cute footage of the then-current Beatles couples (John and Yoko, Paul and Linda, George and Pattie, and Ringo and Maureen) and contains lines like "I don't want to leave her now" and "she knows / That I don't need no other lover". John, George and Ringo would later cheat on their wives, and Ringo left his. Oh, and Pattie left George for his best friend.
      • Maureen and Ringo riding together on motorbikes. After Ringo left Maureen, she was so upset that she drove a motorbike into a wall (in what most biographers believe was a failed suicide attempt) and had to have full facial reconstruction surgery.
    • During their first, and most famous, appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, there are captions introducing all four band members, and in a funny moment, underneath John's name it says "Sorry girls, he's married." Funny at the time; not so funny now that we know it wasn't exactly the happiest marriage.
    • The song "All My Loving", whose opening lines are "Close your eyes and I'll kiss you / tomorrow I'll miss you...", was said to have begun playing right after John Lennon was pronounced dead.
    • The infamous "Butcher" album cover in light of Paul's later vegetarianism and animal rights activism.
  • Gateway Series: The Beatles are one to '60s pop music.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • "Revolution 9" from The White Album includes samples of various classical works, including those by Jean Sibelius, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Robert Schumann and Ludwig van Beethoven. Though "Revolution 9" in general is something of a Genius Bonus; usually only those who've been exposed to avant-garde electronic music before will find it listenable. (Believe it or not, it's probably one of the more accessible works in the genre.)
    • There is also the snippet of a dramatic reading of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the end of "I Am the Walrus."
    • The line I'll have another cigarette/ and curse Sir Walter Raleigh: he was such a stupid git in I'm So Tired, refers to Sir Walter Raleigh, the 16th century British admiral who was the first to import tobacco from North America into Europe.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Americans love "Eight Days A Week." Helped by the fact that it was a US-only single.
    • "I Should Have Known Better" reached number one in Norway.
    • They became popular enough in Jamaica in 1964 that The Skatalites recorded instrumental Cover Versions of "This Boy" and "I Should Have Known Better".
    • In Russia the Beatles, as most other Western rock bands, were very popular because they were seen as rebellious against Soviet Communism. A very interesting documentary How The Beatles rocked the Kremlin was made in the 2000s about their popularity there.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Before William Riker, there was George Harrison, and to a lesser extent, the whole gang. The video for "Strawberry Fields Forever" stunned their fans with their sudden facial hair, and their music started to get more artistically ambitious.
    • The pictures on the Red Album and Blue Album are the same Beatles in the same place and same pose, seven years apart. They changed a lot in that time...
    • They also provide a subversion, however; the one time McCartney grew a beard was during the sessions to record what would ultimately become Let It Be; the sessions were unhappy and bitter, and they signaled the band's ultimate collapse, resulting in one of their more polarizing albums.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "We Can Work It Out" (available on Past Masters). Despite the optimism of the title, ultimately none of Beatles could see the problems of their comrades their way and thus could not work it out.
    • "Back in the USSR" mentions Ukraine and Georgia by name. Both states were quite happy to leave the USSR and are currently having major problems with a Russia that wants at least part of them back.
    • Plenty of songs referencing or evoking the image of John or George dying, from "Come Together" ("Shhhhoot me!" to "Yer Blues" ("Feel so lonely, gonna die") to the ending of "Long Long Long" (a dirgy, mournful song with an unearthly shriek from George at the end, which resembles a widow crying at a funeral), in the wake of John and George's deaths.
    • The below-mentioned "When I'm Sixty-Four":
      • Paul's divorce with Heather Mills was announced a mere few weeks before his 64th birthday. She didn't still need him, she wouldn't still feed him, when he was 64...
      • Paul apparently heard that song so much during his 64th year he once said he regretted ever writing it to begin with.
      • Alas, neither John nor George would live to be that oldnote .
    • In the 1965 fan club Christmas record, John starts singing the chorus of "It's the Same Old Song" by The Four Tops before George stops him: "Copyright, Johnny!" A decade later, George became painfully aware of how much trouble can be caused by copyright infringement accusations with the "My Sweet Lord"/"He's So Fine" lawsuit. There was also Michael Jackson outbidding them for publishing rights to their songs.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "When I'm Sixty-Four" became quite appropriate when Paul actually turned 64. Many radio stations played said song on said birthday.
    • The disguises in Help! The members of the band look almost exactly like they would a few years hence, particularly Ringo (who sports whiskers and a more bouffant hairstyle) and John (who has a long beard and suspiciously familiar round glasses).
    • "Helter Skelter" sounds an awful lot like the sort of material you'd expect from Led Zeppelin a few months before they actually started releasing material!
  • Hype Backlash:
    • Perhaps inevitably, they received some of this, particularly in the "Beatlemania" era.
    • Even today, when they're treated as the best band ever to exist in all of history, it can turn younger fans off. There's also been a backlash among Millennials against the Baby Boomers, and The Beatles are one of the Boomers' most visible sacred cows.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: The Beatles: Rock Band didn't have that great a reception among the more hardcore Rhythm Game enthusiasts and Rock Band fans due to their belief that it was too easy. The meager song list (45 songs out of hundreds of possible songs by the band) and the inability to import the songs to another Rock Band game certainly didn't help matters.
  • Macekre:
    • An urban legend sprang up that the Beatles arranged for Yesterday... and Today to have the infamous "Butcher Cover" as a protest over Capitol mangling their UK albums, as noted in Cut-and-Paste Translation on the band page. Go to the entry at Snopes for in-depth info.
    • Paul McCartney also accused Phil Spector of "ruining" the Let It Be album (his intention had originally been to have the album feature a more stripped down, rootsy production). Spector was acting as the album's producer at the insistence of Allen Klein.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • How else do you explain a large chunk of the fanbase believing not only that Paul died in a car crash, but the band replacing him with a double? This makes this trope Older Than the NES.
    • The suits and moptop hairdos from the early Sixties. May induce high pitched squeals in younger females.
    • x-mania (Rollermania, Punkamania, Hulkamania, Spicemania) This is Older Than They Think, going back to the 19th century's Lisztomania.
    • "Number nine... Number nine... Number nine..."
    • The disturbing coda from “Strawberry Fields Forever” is the first thing people mention when talking about Last Note Nightmare.
    • Paul's frequent use of the phrase "y'know" has become this amongst some fans, as has the story of George exploding because Yoko ate his biscuits.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • The Paul Is Dead urban legend theories based on supposedly hidden messages in the Beatles' songs.
    • "I Am the Walrus" and "Glass Onion" were intended as sarcastic attacks on all those Beatle fans who sought for hidden messages and meanings in their songs. Beatles fans "found" hidden messages in them, too.
    • Sadly, American serial killer Charles Manson managed to interpret the lyrics of the songs "Piggies", "Revolution 1", "Revolution 9", "I Will", "Honey Pie", "Blackbird" and "Helter Skelter" as a message to start murdering other people. For his Cloudcuckoolander interpretations, see here.
  • Misblamed:
    • Inverted; in keeping with the simplistic "Lennon was the deep, creative one / McCartney was the fluffy, inconsequential one" truism, many of the later innovations and artistic achievements of the Beatles in the later years of the band, such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, are credited as being down to Lennon. Most of them, in fact, were McCartney's ideas, and he was arguably the key creative driving force for the band from about 1966 onwards.
    • Five words: "Who broke up the Beatles?" Suffice it to say that most people try to pin the blame on one particular person or another, when the truth is that there were too many factors involved in their slow march towards disintegration for any one of them to be the sole cause (or for all of them to be the sole responsibility of one person).
    • Ringo Starr wasn't happy with his portrayal in the cartoon and complained to Lance Percival. Lance kindly explained that he just did the voices and pointed Ringo in the direction of the writers.
  • More Popular Replacement: Famously, The Beatles replaced Pete Best with the more talented Ringo Starr as drummer right before getting big. Needless to say, most fans agree that it's not The Fab Four without Ringo.
  • Periphery Demographic: The band's songs have been covered by artists far outside pop and rock. For example, Buddy Rich covered "Norwegian Wood".
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Eric Clapton came to the studio at his friend George's request to play on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". He delivered probably the best guitar solo to ever appear on a Beatles record.
    • Alan Civil (French horn on "For No One") and David Mason (piccolo trumpet on "Penny Lane") also contributed memorable solos.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Back in the day, Cavern Club regulars weren't too happy about Pete being replaced by Ringo.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Next to Heather Mills, Yoko Ono suddenly doesn't look so bad. In fact, a popular bumper sticker at fan conventions reads "Even Yoko has a Leg Up on Heather Mills."
  • Sacred Cow: Any sort of criticism (be it mild or harsh) of The Beatles is bound to get you burned. In fact, just going so far as to state that The Beatles are not your personal preference (even if you qualify it with mentioning that you do, however, respect them) is quite risky.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Definitely. It's hard for some younger listeners to appreciate how groundbreaking they were because, basically, every pop-music act ever since is following in their footsteps. The fact people are always told to start with Sgt Pepper or Abbey Road can make people feel this way. It is generally recommended to listen to the albums in order to get an idea of how varied the band's music was.
  • Signature Song: The Beatles have so many iconic songs that it is impossible to single out just one as their signature, but during the peak of Beatlemania in The '60s, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" would've held the title.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes:
    • "Now it's time, to say good night, good night, sleep tight." A deliberate example, sung by Ringo, written by John. John asked producer George Martin to give it the most over-the-top "Disney" orchestration he could muster to write.
    • Becomes a Mood Whiplash and Mind Screw when you consider it's the last song after Revolution 9.
  • Tear Jerker: They now have their own page.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Several of the band members have said, not in so many words, that the worst they could have done for their career was to be in the Beatles. They weren't far off.
    • "Carry That Weight" is widely seen as being the Beatles acknowledging that they will be a tough act to follow, that they will "Carry that weight a long time".
    • The Beatles themselves, in their early days, definitely thought being next on the bill after Roy Orbison was this.
    • In a sense, the children of each of the four Beatles who pursued professional music careers, in particular the higher-profile ones like Julian and Sean Lennon and Dhani Harrison, have had their works compared to both their famous fathers and the band they worked for, and have had to live up to standards no other newer artist./songwriter should have been expected to live up to had they not been sons of Beatles. This hit Julian Lennon hard, especially as the world was still in shock from John's death by Julian's debut Valotte in 1984, and his sophomore album was a rush job perpetuated not long after he finished a tour to cash in on Valotte's success and marred by Julian's music gear being lost in transit where he was writing in the Bahamas.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The reason many people see Lennon as the true genius of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team, with a hefty dose of Dead Artists Are Better.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible:
  • Values Dissonance: Some songs would be deemed misogynistic if they were written today, such as how "Ticket to Ride" describes anti-feminist attitude.
    • Not to mention "Run For Your Life," in which Lennon seems to advocate for spousal murder. This was hardly noticed at the time.
  • Vindicated by History: Both The White Album and Abbey Road received mixed reactions on their release; the former for its overly satirical nature and lack of coherence, and the latter for its use of synths and overproduction making the album seem artificial. Now, they are considered among the greatest records ever made.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?:
    • One of the most famous examples. John Lennon's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", thought by many to be about LSD right down to the "LSD" initialism formed by the title, was actually inspired by a drawing presented to John by his young son Julian. John asked what the picture was, Julian said "Lucy [a schoolmate] in the sky with diamonds"—presto. The lyrics and dreamy quality of the instrumental don't help the perception.
    • They averted this trope outside the studio, taking plenty of drugs in their spare time (especially Lennon), but inside the studio they mostly played this straight. Their work ethic and sense of craftsmanship meant that they had to stay sober. Most of the Beatles' recording sessions were fuelled by tea and cigarettes. In fact, a Sgt. Pepper session had to be halted early because John had accidentally taken LSD before he left home and was unable to concentrate.
  • The Woobie: "The Fool on the Hill", the main character of the song of the same name from Magical Mystery Tour. No one likes him, and no one listens to what he has to say. Averted inasmuch as he's a fool, and so doesn't realise it.
  • Woolseyism: Some of the Capitol albums might be sequenced better than the corresponding EMI albums.
    • Meet the Beatles got onto the Rolling Stone "Greatest Albums of All Time" list, while the version it "butchered", With the Beatles, didn't. Capitol wisely added the two sides of their breakthrough US single ("I Want to Hold Your Hand", "I Saw Her Standing There") as the opening tracks, emphasized the two most notable things about them as they started their career (they wrote their own songs, all four members sang lead vocals and had unique personas), and eliminated all but one Cover Version from With the Beatles. And the one they kept ("Till There Was You") was a familiar show tune that demonstrated to adults that these guys had respect for traditional pop music.
    • Many fans, including Brian Wilson, think the US version of Rubber Soul is miles better than the UK version. (Capitol cut out most of the more electrified songs in favor of the acoustic pieces.)
    • As noted in Canon Immigrant on the main page, the Capitol Magical Mystery Tour album is so superior to the British two-EP set, if only in form factor, that it has displaced the EPs in "canon." Not only did the US album have a 12" version of the 7" British booklet, it also included the band's 1967 singles on Side 2. In England, the album version of Magical Mystery Tour finally replaced the EPs in 1976.


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