Top 10 Most Underrated Beatles SongsGuitarSpotting
Top 10 Most Underrated Beatles Songs
Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a series of articles about underrated songs, bands and albums. And what better band to start with than the Beatles? Step right this way, and check out the 10 Most Underrated Beatles Songs.
Of course, since we’re talking about the most popular rock group of all time, defining “underrated” can be a little tricky. Most Beatle songs are pretty well-known, especially when it comes to singles and radio staples. I tried to avoid listing some of the Beatles’ more beloved album tracks, because though some casual fans may not be familiar with them, most fans rate them just fine (‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’, ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘In My Life’, etc.)
Before the Beatles came along, most albums contained a few singles and a lot of filler. The Beatles were one of the first groups to treat each album as a single artistic work.
So there are quite a few album tracks and b-sides worth exploring. And it was definitely hard work cutting down this list to only 10 songs.
Knowing I’d have to leave out several deserving options, I decided to stick to songs written by the Beatles themselves. This disqualified several covers that I think are great and underrated (like ‘Anna (Go To Him)’ and ‘Baby It’s You’).
If you’re not familiar with the songs listed below, you’re in for a treat. And even if you already know them, you may not have heard ’em for a while. So sit back, press play, close your eyes and drift back to a time when the Beatles were the most dominant musical force in history.
10. I’m a Loser
When the Beatles first walked into a recording studio, they entered a rock establishment not very sophisticated. Songs were short and simple, and lyrics were usually an afterthought. Chuck Berry created the blueprint for rock n’ roll lyrics (girls, cars and guitars), but Bob Dylan soon introduced a literary element to rock music. People were beginning to understand that rock n’ roll wasn’t just some fad, but here to stay, and started to view music as art and lyrics as poetry, and rock n’ roll as the ultimate mode of self-expression.
As the Beatles fame and confidence grew, so did their artistic vision. Dylan has a massive influence on the group, especially John Lennon, who began writing more introspective lyrics.
By the time they released their 4th album in 1964, Beatles For Sale, they had conquered America with the Ed Sullivan Show, and the movies with A Hard Day’s Night. They were world-famous and on top of the world. And while it may have been lost on their fans at the time, John was now rich and famous, but still deeply unhappy, questioning his life and his marriage, and wondering whether he was a genius or a fraud.
“Although I laugh and I act like a clown. Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown.”
With ‘I’m a Loser’, Lennon began exploring more adult themes, and crafting lyrics that were no longer just about boy-meets-girl. They reflected autobiographical thoughts about self-doubt and pain, and he would later introduce his famed surreal wordplay to the mix.
‘I’m a Loser’ is great musically as well, catchy and engaging with elements of folk, a cool plucky guitar solo, and a strong melody. The Beatles had started double-tracking vocals to compliment their brilliant harmonies, and John loved the technique. The acoustic guitar sounds great here too, and the Beatles were starting to sound more sophisticated in every way.
9. Oh! Darling
Abbey Road is considered by many to be one of the Beatles best albums. It turned out to be their swan song (Let It Be was released after Abbey Road, but recorded before), and includes two of George’s best songs, plus strong contributions from John Lennon.
As for Paul McCartney, he was the driving force behind the brilliant medley that makes up most of side 2, and people often talk about ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’, a song John and George hated, but that Paul kept polishing in the hope that it could become a single.
In between all those other famous tracks is a gem called ‘Oh! Darling’.
“When we were recording ‘Oh! Darling’ I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I’d been performing it on stage all week.” – Paul McCartney
Paul was going for a raw, screaming vocal, and he refused to sing it more than once each day until he got what he wanted.
It’s just another example of what made the Beatles so great. Paul showcases his versatility by doing Lennon-style hard blues and conveying real emotion, resulting in a Beatle-ized hybrid of 50’s style doo-wop and Louisiana R&B that is unique and memorable.
8. Sexy Sadie
In 1967, the Beatles were introduced to the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and later travelled to Rishikesh, India to join a Transcendental Meditation retreat in February 1968. It had a dramatic effect on the Beatles, especially George and John. They were able to clear their minds through meditation, and enjoy a sense of tranquility far removed from Beatlemania thanks to the idyllic nature setting and lack of drugs and other distractions.
They also brought their guitars, and once the floodgates opened, wrote a bunch of new songs. In fact, there was so much new material that their next recording The Beatles (universally known as the White Album) required a double album to accommodate them all.
Unfortunately, after a few weeks the tranquil commune atmosphere was shattered by controversy. There are many different stories about exactly what happened, but the general rumor (and most importantly, what John believed) was that the Maharishi had made sexual advances towards actress Mia Farrow and another girl. John was looking for an excuse to go home by this point anyway, and got angry about the all-too-human failings of yet another guru.
“Sexy Sadie what have you done? You made a fool of everyone.”
John wrote this song while they were leaving, and the original title was ‘Maharishi’. George insisted he change the name, and John decided to cloak the lyrics and change the gender, ending up with the brilliant and underrated ‘Sexy Sadie’. The rumor was probably false, anyway, and the new lyrics were ambiguous yet compelling.
The song features top-notch musicianship with cool piano parts and great backing vocals, topped with John’s acerbic lyrics. ‘Sexy Sadie’ is one of John’s best songs on the White Album.
7. You’re Going to Lose That Girl
‘You’re Going to Lose That Girl’ can be found on the 1965 soundtrack for the Beatles movie Help!
You rarely hear about this song despite its high quality, which makes it underrated.
It’s another Beatles song that toys with convention, incorporating subtle key changes and elements of girl groups and R&B. And the lyrics play with gender more than your usual sunny pop song, as they are written from the point-of-view of a male singer talking to another male (the girl’s boyfriend), and issuing a warning.
“I’ll make a point of taking her away from you (watch what you do), yeah!”
It has great call-and-response vocals with a spirited lead from John, and the melody part using the song’s title takes it a little further each time it’s sung (“You’re going to loooooooo …”), until it’s completed in a very satisfying way at the end.
The band sounds super-confident here. The harmonies are lush and Ringo’s bongo playing gives it a distinct flavor. Great song.
6. I’ve Just Seen a Face
‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ is unique and catchy, and can also found on the Help! soundtrack. Paul had been playing an instrumental version on piano for friends and family for a while. It was a personal favorite of his Aunt Gin, and its working title was ‘Auntie Gin’s Theme’ before it became a Beatles song.
“It was slightly country and western from my point of view… it was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works; it keeps dragging you forward…” – Paul McCartney
It features a driving uptempo folk-rock sound with elements of country and R&B. These different styles are blended seamlessly, and it’s one of the few acoustic-only Beatles songs with no bass on the track.
The lyrics are cleverly constructed, and it chugs along at a great pace. An inspired song that should’ve been a hit, and a great one to learn to play on acoustic guitar.
Click #2 below for the 5 Most Underrated Beatles Songs (drumroll please) …..