The Beatles (band)

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Clockwise from bottom left: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to
The love you make

—"The End"

Four lads from Liverpool -- John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr -- who released some albums in The Sixties, and are credited by many for changing the face of rock music, while for others they were at least major pioneers of the new style of pop rock, and a major force of The British Invasion. For many people, they are also the face of The Sixties. Which is not bad work, really.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered by many critics to be the greatest album in history and is credited with really changing the way people listened to pop music; 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 most homaged cover, 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 Days 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 Toons 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.

The band broke up in 1970 under circumstances painful to think about. Everyone went on to solo careers. The dissolution was finalized in 1974, but Apple Corps (the Beatles' management company) was left intact. For perhaps fifteen years, few people saw any purpose for that...

But then a second wave of Beatlemania gradually hit -- too late for John Lennon, who sadly had been getting the Dead Artists Are Better effect since 1980 when he was murdered by a crazed fan, but everyone else got to see it. The events leading to this, in order: the initial release of the British Beatles catalog on CD in 1987; 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; and most noticeably, The Beatles Anthology in 1995, with Beatles singles "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" (though the latter Covered Up a Lennon version). Since then, Beatles-related stuff has come out just often enough to keep second-generation fans on their toes and the fandom active and aggressive.

George Harrison died of cancer in 2001. Sir Paul McCartney (he was knighted in 1997 and handled it in a way that ensured no one would let him live it down) and Ringo Starr 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 (the band's original drummer before going big) 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 catalog 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 has added Beatles music in 2010![1]

On December 24 2015, their music became available on most streaming services.[2]


Their complete discography (as available in the 9/9/09 remastered box sets) is:

  • Please Please Me (1963)
  • With The Beatles (1963)
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  • Beatles for Sale (1964)
  • Help! (1965)
  • Rubber Soul (1965)
  • Revolver (1966)
  • Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
  • The Beatles, better known as "The White Album" (1968)
  • Yellow Submarine (1969) Although only four of the songs ("Only a Northern Song", "Hey Bulldog", "All Together Now", "It's All Too Much") are not preexisting material from previous albums, the existence of this new material, as well as the flip-side original instrumental orchestral soundtrack by producer and "fifth Beatle" George Martin, makes the soundtrack officially a Beatles album instead of a compilation.
  • Abbey Road (1969)
  • Let It Be (1970)
  • Mono Masters and Past Masters (included with the mono and stereo box sets, respectively; compilations including nearly everything not on the albums. The stereo version is available separately from its box set; the mono version is not)

Additional compilations:

  • A Collection of Beatles Oldies (Their first greatest hits collection, released in the UK only in 1966)
  • Hey Jude (Another greatest hits collection, released in 1969 in the US but not the UK; out of print. Many singles appeared in album form - and in stereo - here for the first time.)
  • The Beatles 1962-1966 (The Red Album) -- a double album, and one half of a Greatest Hits Album collection attempt. Released in 1973; reissued on CD in 1993, with a remastered version released in October 2010. The cover is taken from the photoshoot from the Please Please Me album.
  • The Beatles 1967-1970 (The Blue Album) -- another double album, and the other half of that Greatest Hits Album attempt. Released and reissued when the Red Album was.The photo used for the album cover was salvaged from photo sessions for what would have been the cover to the Get Back album.
  • The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (Live album; LP and cassette only; out of print)
  • The Beatles 20 Greatest Hits (LP and cassette only -- it was an inadequate Greatest Hits Album collection; out of print)
  • Rarities (LP and cassette only; out of print. The song choices were different in the UK (released 1979) and US (1980) versions, since some songs (and song mixes) had been released in one country but not the other.)
  • Love Songs (LP and cassette only; out of print)
  • The Star Club Tapes (The live album that just won't go away)
  • Live at the BBC (1994) (The first new compilation after Apple got its act together)
  • The Beatles Anthology, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (1995-1996) (Each volume is a two-CD set containing previously unreleased material from the archives, much of it having appeared on the Ultra Rare Trax bootleg CD series in the late 1980s. An earlier collection, Sessions, would have brought some of the recordings to the public in 1984, but the surviving Beatles vetoed the album at the last minute.)
  • Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999). All but one of the songs of the film ("A Day in the Life"), remastered and remixed in stereo, including "Only a Northern Song" for the first time.
  • 1 (2000) (Greatest Hits album that compiled virtually every #1 single from the UK and US from '62 to '70)
  • Let It Be... Naked (2004) (remix of Let it Be closer to the original, abortive Get Back album, and shorn of Phil Spector's production changes)
  • LOVE (2007) (To go with the Cirque Du Soleil production of that name. A mashup album, put together by Beatles producer George Martin, that pretty much flows like one long medley)

Numerous tribute, soundtracks, and cover albums:

  • Across the Universe, a Mamma-Mia style musical using parsed lyrics to cobble together a loose plot
  • I Am Sam, a Sean Penn movie whose mentally disabled protagonist loves the Beatles

The Beatles (band) is the Trope Namer for:

The Beatles (band) provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Alliteration: Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam.
    • Bungalow Bill and Rocky Raccoon. And Sexy Sadie.
    • "Whisper words of wisdom, let it be..."
  • Aerith and Bob: John, Paul, George, and...Ringo?
  • Affectionate Parody: The Rutles.
    • And The Monkees, to an extent.
    • With the Beatles being as popular and as influential as they were, there are literally more of these than can be counted. There's an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, for example, that's basically a protracted parody of every bit of Beatles trivia that the writer could remember. And Abbey Road Crossing can usually be considered a subtrope of this.
  • Age Progression Song: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".
  • Album Filler: McCartney admitted that "Hold Me Tight" off With the Beatles was this.
    • Beatles for Sale is considered to contain a lot of filler due to the fact 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).
    • 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 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, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" in Sgt. Pepper's).
    • And of course, there's "The White Album". 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 fulfill their album commitment to the EMI record label as quickly as possible.
    • The inclusion of "Across the Universe" and "One After 909" on Let It Be couldn't be anything but filler. The former was released as a single long before Let It Be was released, and the latter was one of the first songs Lennon and McCartney had ever written (it was never included on an album because they were never satisfied with it).
      • "Dig It" from the same album was certainly that. When the album was remixed as Let It Be... Naked in 2002, it was even dropped from the track list.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: "We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band..."
  • 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.
  • Apple Corps Owns This Trope: Apple Corps and Apple (Computer) Inc. had an argument dating back to the 1980s over the use of the name "Apple". The two companies finally came to an agreement, however, and as of November 16, 2010, you can buy the Beatles' music on iTunes.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: "Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!", its lyrics being drawn from a Victorian circus poster.
  • 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. Many of the casual music crowd don't listen to any other 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 Disillusionment: One of the key motivating factors behind the band's decision to stop touring was that they couldn't even hear themselves play over all the screaming fans, which both affected how well they were playing and resulted in low morale -- it made it clear that most of the fans weren't bothering to listen. So perfunctory was their stage act at the end that by the time of their last paid concert (in 1966 in San Francisco), not one song from their then-new album Revolver was on their performance list.
    • Recordings of their late live performances indicate just how sick they were of touring, with many of their songs being played at near-double speed, in order to get the concert over and done with as quickly as possible.
    • George Harrison in particular was vocal about how, for him at least, the appeal of being a Beatle had worn off around 1966-1967, because of the above and because he was getting tired of Lennon and McCartney constantly treating him as the younger sibling of the group with regards to his own efforts at writing.
  • Artistic Stimulation/What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: After their first visit to America (wherein they had an amusing run-in with Bob Dylan), the answer to the latter is "well, not all of it," more or less by their own admission.
    • 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: "Sun King".
  • 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"
  • Band Toon: As noted above.
  • 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.
  • Bifauxnen: "Well you should see Polythene Pam/She's so good-looking but she looks like a man..."
  • Bigger Than Jesus/Blasphemous Boast: The Trope Namer came from a John Lennon interview in which he did NOT say "we're bigger than Jesus" but rather "we're more popular than Jesus now". Given the intensity of Beatlemania, that was a defensible statement. It still garnered 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 from the American South. The protests that dogged The Beatles over their American tour played no small part in convincing them to give up touring for good.
  • Biopic: 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.
    • Nowhere Boy focuses on Lennon and his complicated family history, but also dramatizes his meeting with McCartney and the formulation of the band.
  • Bishonen
  • 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.
  • Book Ends: The original Get Back album was supposed to have a 1969 photo of the Beatles in the exact same pose 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).
  • 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 about more than laziness and his despair.
  • The British Invasion: They launched it. They were the first success.
  • 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.

"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 forever, or 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 several minutes of the same guitar riff repeated over and over and over and over until it comes to a dead stop mid-way thr
  • 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 was invented by the Beatles, and is now usually referred to as a "Double-A Side".
  • 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 latter case the song even includes a little snatch of flute as a musical echo of the original's introduction.
    • "She Loves You" is also quoted at the end of "All You Need Is Love"
  • 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 modeled 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.)
  • 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"
    • "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 John Lennon's full-throated scream (after a blistering opening guitar riff) on the single version of "Revolution".
  • Cash Cow Franchise: During the sixties and since 1989. A re-release by the Beatles is as newsworthy as a new release by U2.
    • Crack is Cheaper: Lowest "introduction" package is at least $250 for the 2009 remasters box set (stereo[3] or mono[4]--many aficionados will argue that you really need both) and DVDs of A Hard Day's Night, Help!! and Yellow Submarine (which will demand quite some search as it hasn't been reissued since 1999). And you can damage your wallet even further (Books! The Anthology documentary! Magical Mystery Tour and other DVDs! The Beatles Rock Band!).
    • For the technically-minded Beatles fans and music recording geeks, there is the handy, epic tome Recording The Beatles" by Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, a thoroughly exhaustive 540-page book chronicling the techniques, recording equipment, and studio-owned musical instruments used by the Beatles during the making of their music. The hardcover deluxe-edition book, available via Curvebender publishing, will set you back a good $100.00.
  • Celebrity Toons: As noted above.
  • Christmas Episode/Missing Episode: The Beatles sent flexidiscs with holiday greetings and Sketch Comedy to their fan club between 1963 and 1969, which were compiled onto an LP (also a fan club exclusive) in 1971. All these releases are long out of print. They've never been legally available to the general public, except for the first one, which is unlockable content in The Beatles: Rock Band.
    • An edited version of the 1967 message ("Christmas Time Is Here Again", the closest they ever came to doing an actual Christmas Songs) was, however, officially released as a B-side of the "Free as a Bird" single in 1995.
    • "Carnival of Light" is an experimental track and Missing Episode. It's (probably) still floating around out there somewhere.
      • Paul McCartney apparently has the recording and keeps making noises about releasing it. George Harrison supposedly vetoed it when he was still alive, but a decade later and it's still nowhere to be found. With as many leaked studio sessions and bootleg albums as there are out there, it'a arguably one of the last truly rare Beatles recordings left.
  • Christmas Rushed: Rubber Soul was rushed into production before Christmas 1965. Beatles For Sale was also rushed (hence the name and the presence of a few covers after the all-original Hard Day's Night).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: John Lennon is suspected to have been one of these.
  • 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.

"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 was visiting John in New York City (during one of their very few friendly meetings post-breakup) and they were actually watching SNL. Apparently, they strongly considered going down to the studio but decided not to.
    • George did show up in a subsequent episode in 1976, wherein he demanded the money. "$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 one of popular music's first concept albums, 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.
  • 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 colorful Sgt. Pepper uniforms.
  • 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...I guess.
  • Control Freak: Paul McCartney.
    • Somewhat justified. At the time of the recording of "Sgt. Pepper's," where most critics says Paul began to show this kind of behavior, he had hit a creative streak and was anxious to do some recording. Meanwhile, John's use of drugs peaked, which made him more than a bit lazy.
    • In later years, much of his behaviour of this nature can be seen as someone attempting -- wisely or otherwise -- to keep a slowly disintegrating band from falling apart by trying to get them to do something, anything, to keep it together. Many have noted that, more than the other Beatles, Paul's sense of self was for a long time bound up in being a Beatle, and he arguably had a lot more to lose, emotionally, than the others if they broke up.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Their cover of "Boys", although, oddly, they did not change the title. Also their cover of "Please Mr. Postman".
    • And "Devil In Her Heart", and "To Know Her Is To Love Her". 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.
  • Cut and Paste Translation: Before Sgt. Pepper, Capitol Records of America released different Beatles albums than its parent company EMI/Parlophone, the original British publisher. Specifically, they removed songs from some albums to tack onto other albums; since the American albums held about ten songs and the British ones held about fourteen, there were two or three albums made from whole cloth. One of these, the 1966 release Yesterday... And Today, was a compilation with "new" songs that had been issued the previous year in England, as well as rough mixes of three songs from the then-forthcoming Revolver.
    • Tropes Are Not Bad: The American cut of Rubber Soul inspired Brian Wilson to make Pet Sounds, which, in turn, inspired Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The American album Meet The Beatles! is also well-received (partly because it added the "I Want to Hold Your Hand" single to the core of the British With the Beatles album and removed all but one of the earlier title's cover versions to create a nearly entirely Beatle-written album), and even made it at the Number 59 spot on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums list.
    • All officially released versions of Let It Be are this compared to what the project was supposed to be. Phil Spector took the raw tapes and tried to hide flaws (real and imagined) under heavy orchestration. Let It Be... Naked doesn't use heavy orchestration, but does use something like ProTools. (For some reason, Paul McCartney tends to think it's okay to remove something from a recording if it was never meant to be there, even if it was there because of limitations in the tech at the time of recording. Normally, that would be fine for anyone who isn't a major audiophile; but John Lennon wanted the album to be raw and forbade George Martin from doing "producer tricks" on it!) Lennon later strongly defend Spector's remix of the album against McCartney's stringent protests, declaring the original Get Back album unlistenable.
    • Past Masters 1 and 2 (now with the remasters, just one album), albums made entirely of singles which do not appear on any of their albums (including songs like "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "Rain" and "Hey Jude"), also count. Unlike many examples of this trope, they're extremely important.
      • The second side of the Magical Mystery Tour LP is an earlier example of this, as was the Hey Jude compilation. Part of the problem was that American releases, in addition to be shorter than their British counterparts, tended to be centered around a popular single. Capitol generally refused to release an album that didn't include at least one hit single. EMI/Parlophone took the exact opposite approach, and few Beatles singles were included on their albums (at least not without substantial differences in mixing or arrangement, as was the case with "Revolution" and "Revolution 1"). Both the Past Masters disc and the US version of Magical Mystery Tour were released on CD in order that these tracks would be available on the medium in some form.
  • Darker and Edgier: Gradually, as they earned more freedom to write songs not just for the money, became more jaded at the superficiality of fame and lust, and started using drugs. 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.
  • Days of the Week Song: "Lady Madonna" misses only Saturday.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: John Lennon. While his musical accomplishments certainly can't be denied, he was a self-admitted Jerkass throughout his life. After his death, he was practically canonized from certain quarters. George also benefited from this following his passing.
  • Dead Baby 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 uber alles!" at the adoring crowd, just to prove they could say or do just about anything and the fans would keep screaming.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In Real Life, all four of them were - their early press conferences consisted of approximately five smart-ass answers for every one serious answer to reporters' questions.
    • They were from Liverpool, after all. It's in the water supply.
  • Deconstructive Parody: The Mothers of Invention album We're Only In It For The Money is just as irreverent as The Rutles' take on the Beatles, but decidedly less affectionate.
  • Did Not Do the Research: "Back in the USSR" -- "take me to your daddy's farm". Individually owned farms did not exist in the USSR at the time.
  • Distinct Double Album: The Beatles ("The White Album").
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: I don't care how horrible the sentiments expressed in "Run For Your Life" are, John Lennon just makes them sound so damn cool.
  • Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male): "Girl" is arguably this. Worse because no one believes him.
  • Dreadful Musician: The two Beatles that didn't make the cut, The Pete Best himself (the only condition George Martin gave to hire the band was to replace him) and Stu Sutcliffe (who only bought a bass to join the band at John's insistance, 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."
  • Epic Rocking: 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.
    • "I want you, I want you so bad, I want yoooooouuuuu, I want you so bad, it's driving me mad, it's driving me mad..."
    • "It's All Too Much", especially the blistering opening note.
  • Everything's Better with Chocolate: "Savoy Truffle".
  • 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 was 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
    • 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. "The 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.
  • Excited Show Title!: The movie, song, and soundtrack album--"Help!".
    • Also "Oh! Darling" off of Abbey Road.
  • Expy: By Design The Monkees, the "Pre-Fab" four created to basically make a tv show out of the movie "Help!!". 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.
  • 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.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Hello Goodbye", "Helter Skelter", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Free As a Bird".
  • Falling Bass: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".
  • Fan Service: 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, Lennon turned to his friend and said "let the fuckers work that one out!"
    • John couldn't completely avoid all symbolism in "I Am The Walrus"; one item which (accidentally?) crept in was "semolina pilchard", a Take That at Detective Norman Pilcher of the Drug Squad, who had it in for pop/rock stars.
  • The Fifth Beatle: Billy Preston was called this after he joined The Beatles for Let It Be. George Martin, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Brian Epstein and Stuart Sutcliffe have also been called "Fifth Beatle"'s.
  • Le Film Artistique: Magical Mystery Tour.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flanderization: All of the Beatles were annoyed at the simplistic roles and stereotypes they were reduced to in the media as the 'Fab Four' (John the 'funny' one, Paul the 'handsome' one, George the 'quiet' one, Ringo the 'normal'/'dull'/'sad' one, etc).
    • In modern times, the Lennon/McCartney writing partnership tends to be oversimplified as 'Lennon wrote all the angsty, complex, rebellious and therefore 'good' songs, whereas McCartney wrote all the Silly Love Songs and fluffy album filler.' This not only tends to unfairly deny McCartney the credit in several cases, but collapses entirely when you remember that Lennon wrote "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" (although he did say that the latter was In the Style Of Paul) and McCartney wrote "Eleanor Rigby", a song about the human struggle with loneliness with a Downer Ending, and "Helter Skelter", one of the hardest rock songs the band ever recorded and one frequently classified as "proto-metal". Lennon did tend more towards Creator Breakdown in later years, though...
  • Foil: Lennon and McCartney tended to write a lot of songs on the same subject or with very similar musical techniques (duh) 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" is 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 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 the best example of this, with Paul writing the optimistic, yet arrogant refrain - "Try to see it my way...We can work it out" - while John wrote the pessimistic "Life is very short, and there's no time..." middle eight (with the time signature change as George's sole contribution to the song).
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: John is the cynic, Paul is the Optimist, George is the Realist, and Ringo is the Apathetic.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Paul is choleric, John--despite his witty, loud-mouthed, smart-aleck facade--was really melancholic, George was phlegmatic, Ringo is sanguine.
    • Interestingly, early on their personas were presented as Paul being sanguine, John being choleric, George being melancholic, and Ringo being phlegmatic.
  • Garfunkel: 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. The record deal, incidentally, specified that the Beatles could not keep the erratic Pete Best as drummer. The Beatles literally needed Ringo more than he needed them.
  • 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.
    • His 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 unfortunately has decided to imitate his parents in his own pretty creepy way. (Link NSFW).
    • 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...
  • Genre Roulette: The albums post Rubber Soul go everywhere: folk, psychedelic, Indian, avant-garde...
  • God Is Love Song: "Long Long Long".
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Animal name (inspired by Buddy Holly and the Crickets) with a pun inserted for good measure.
  • Grand Finale: The Long Medley on Side Two of Abbey Road, ending with, well, "The End".
  • Gratuitous Panning: Early stereo mixes of albums separated entire tracks to one side. All Beatles albums were mixed in mono and different people handled the stereo mixes. It wasn't until Abbey Road that they actually did an album in stereo (Her Majesty starts entirely on the right, and moves until it's entirely on the left by the end of the song.)
    • Capitol Records' "Duophonic" process, which artificially turned a lot of songs recorded in mono into pseudo-stereo. If you believe Wikipedia, The Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra also underwent this particular form of Executive Meddling.
      • You have every reason to believe Wikipedia. Capitol Records would take a mono recording, delay the right channel by a millisecond, play it through their famed echo chamber, and -- presto! -- fake stereo. Reportedly, Brian Wilson's father Murry preferred Duophonic, so much so that 8 of their albums were only available in mono or Duophonic.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several of them.
  • 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. "Yesterday" would be the most famous of quite a few "lost love" songs.
  • Groupie Brigade
  • Hello: Goodbye!
  • Hidden Track:
    • The weird cacophonous noise loop that comes after "A Day In The Life" on Sgt. Pepper, if you count that as a song.
    • "Her Majesty" on 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 track list.)
    • "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.
  • Hot and Cold: Although male, John had a personality similar to this.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Leftie Ringo Starr played a right-handed drum kit.
  • 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.
    • Of course, even in their "mass-marketed pop band" days the Beatles wrote original material and played their own instruments, which doesn't really fit this trope.
  • Insult Backfire: All four were skilled at giving smart assed answers to criticism, but Paul may have achieved the crowning moment at a 1965 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", possibly "Revolution 9," "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?", and others.
    • Wait, "Revolution 9"? How is that -- what?
  • In the Style Of: A few. A notable one is "Rocky Raccoon," more or less an explicit semi-Affectionate Parody of cowboy ballads. "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" is also supposedly John doing an In the Style Of Paul.
    • "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is basically John doing Bob Dylan.
    • Don't forget "If I Needed Someone" being in the style of The Byrds. Or "Here, There and Everywhere" and "Because" being in the style of The Beach Boys (no, seriously -- listen to those harmonies). And "Back in the U.S.S.R." is not only in the style of Sixties-era Chuck Berry, but it's specifically a parody of one of Berry's smaller-scale hits.
    • Some of their early hits, like "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand", display an unmistakable Buddy Holly influence.
    • "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" has, to some, always sounded like a forgotten Everly Brothers hit.
    • "Honey Pie" is a direct homage to the British music hall style, so sayeth Wikipedia.
    • "Lady Madonna" was done in the style of Fats Domino, and was even covered by Fats himself.
    • "I'm Down" is said to be the Beatles' rewriting of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" (which they also covered).
  • It Got Worse: For the band, after The White Album. The music was still damn good, though.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: John. He mellowed in the '70s, but he was a dick in the '60s.
    • He did have his share of jerkass moments in the 70s (or so I've heard).
    • He was described as an ADD monster.
    • Reports of what a complete tool he could be are especially glaring in light of the modern picture of him as being St. John of Peace.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paul. See Heartwarming Moments.
    • Despite being an infamous control freak after "Sgt. Pepper", he did his best to hold the crumbling band together after manager Brian Epstein passed away.
    • John's neglected son Julian has admitted that he was much closer with Paul than his father.
  • Jukebox Musical: Three of note, not counting Yellow Submarine.
    • Sgt Peppers 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) -- 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 Love It or Hate It 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 WWII 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. Glenn Burtnik (who played Paul McCartney in the show) does many Beatles-themed tribute concerts nowadays.
  • If You Know What I Mean: "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-Note Nightmare: Particularly "Long, Long, Long".
    • "A Day in the Life"
    • "Strawberry Fields Forever" is the canonical example. It fades out with a gorgeous swarmandel before fading back in with a dissonant mellotron, vicious drumming, trumpets that sound like ambulance sirens, and (most disturbingly) John Lennon's slowed-down voice saying "CRANBERRY SAUCE".
      • Even worse if you're a little kid and you think it's "I buried Paul." Ever since then, that song's end is the sound of death to her.
    • "Helter Skelter" is a different sort of Last-Note Nightmare, as it finishes with Ringo throwing his drumsticks across the room and screaming "I GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!!" The version that wound up on the 'The White Album was the 18th take of the day. That explains the blisters.
    • The disonnant swirling effects at the end of "Blue Jay Way".
    • The manic laughing sound effect at the end of "Within You Without You", meant to bring relief to the heaviness of the lyrics. It didn't work.
  • Lead Bassist: Sir Paul is a Type A, B, and C
  • 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.
  • Lonely Funeral: "Eleanor Rigby" provides the page quote.
  • Long Title: "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
    • Also, "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" and "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill".
  • Lounge Lizard: Paul's hilariously sleazy nightclub crooning in "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", a cheery ditty about a violent Serial Killer.
    • Also "Getting Better," in which 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.
    • "Piggies" sounds like it could be a nursery rhyme, but the lyrics are George's sense of humor 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.
  • 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 squaking 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.
  • Metal Scream: "Revolution", "Helter Skelter"
  • Mind Screw: "Revolution 9". While "Revolution 1" is a nice, slow, relativly tame rock song, "Revolution 9" is eight minutes of pure, untapped, minimalist cacophony. A Last-Note Nightmare, that really is a nightmare, regardless if it's a whole song...
  • 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 womanizer 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 Days 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, wih an opening line stolen from "Baby Let's Play House" (a blues song popularized 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.
  • Mockumentary: The film A Hard Day's Night was a mostly-realistic one of these.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Mostly levels one through three, but there are a few individual songs that are harder.
  • 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 defense when people start to question him - hence why he always brings her along on hunting trips "in case of accidents."
  • Money Song: Subverted with "Can't Buy Me Love", played straight with their cover of "Money (That's What I Want)"
  • Monster Fangirl: Rose and Valerie in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer".
  • Mr. Fanservice: All four of them.
  • 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.
  • Murder Ballad: "Rocky Raccoon" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
  • Myspeld Rokband: 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.[5]
  • National Health Service: Referenced in "Doctor Robert" (and also some of John's improv in their early work in Hamburg).
    • Those glasses that Lennon made famous in the 1960s? Standard-issue National Health glasses.
  • Never Learned to Read Sheet Music
  • New Sound Album: Pretty much every of one their albums from Rubber Soul forward could be considered one of these.
  • 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 the Abbey Road album. "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 Geoff Emerick to "cut it right there", and Emerick did. "Her Majesty" was originally slated between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam", but the band decided to delete it. The tape engineer who clipped it out of the master cut 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". Then he 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".
  • 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 Anthology series.
  • The Notable Numeral: "The Fab Four".
  • The Obi-Wan: Manager Brian Epstein, who died shortly after "Sgt. Pepper". Major subversion, as his death is considered the beginning of the end for the group.
  • 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.
  • 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-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.
  • One-Woman Song: "Michelle", "Eleanor Rigby", "Julia", "Lovely Rita", "Lady Madonna", "Polythene Pam".
  • Only Sane Man: "The Fool on the Hill". The Trope Namer.
  • Oop North: They're from Liverpool, after all.
  • Opinion Myopia: Yoko Ono's fans (which apparently exist, for some strange reason) really like to insist that the Beatles were just this brief, unimportant little project that John was fiddling around with, killing time until he met Yoko. They can't seem to grasp just why everyone acts like the Beatles were such a big deal when there's John and Yoko's work together to consider.
  • Parody/Affectionate 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 a 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."
  • Please Retain Old Street Name: Penny Lane in Liverpool 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.
  • The Poppy: "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout/A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray..."
  • Posthumous Collaboration: "Real Love" and "Free as a Bird"
  • Protest Song: Subverted with "Revolution", a protest about protestors (and specifically the Cultural Revolution with John's "Chairman Mao" reference".)
    • Or maybe not. All versions of the song take a swipe at Mao, but 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. 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.
    • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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", many others. Lennon in particular did this constantly.
  • Rearrange the Song: The two different versions of "Revolution" released in 1968--the original low-key version, actually released second as "Revolution 1" on The White Album, and the hard-rocking version released as the B-side to "Hey Jude".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Song: "Sexy Sadie" to the Maharishi, "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.
  • Refrain From Assuming: Usually averted.
  • 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.
  • 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, and "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.
  • 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.
    • "Although I laugh and I act like a clown/Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown..."
  • Sampling: "I Am the Walrus" is one of the early examples, if not the earliest. It includes clips from a BBC Radio production of King Lear.
    • "Revolution 9" is a better example, and a lot more infamous.
    • Also, the first few seconds of "Strawberry Fields Forever" are made up of flute samples.
      • Which was played on the first sample a Mellotron. It was an analog sampler with different instruments sampled to tape. So when one pushed a key, the tape was played. This made the whole thing huge and as the tapes were being played all the time, it had the tendency to go out of tune after a while.
  • 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 comes in a dissonant flute riff, some Scare Chord horns, and someone repeating "Cranberry Sauce" several times 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 it's four minute coda of "Na na na na na na na, na na na na, hey Jude".
  • 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."
  • Self-Titled Album: The Beatles, although pretty much everyone knows it better as The White Album.
  • 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.
    • 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 whom, 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.
  • 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.
    • "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.
    • "The eagle picks my eye/The worm he licks my bone/Feel so suicidal/Just like Dylan's Mr. Jones"
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "With a Little Help From My Friends".
    • "Polythene Pam" and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" were recorded together as a single performance. You can hear John Lennon saying "Oh look out!" right before the change.
  • Silly Love Songs: Literally every last original song on their first five albums counts. 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.
  • 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".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: At the beginning of their career they were far down the idealistic side, and if "Here Comes the Sun" is any indication, they missed it at the end. The rest of their career is open to interpretation on this point. But then that shouldn't be surprising.
  • Smarter Than You Look: George felt that Ringo's second song, "Octopus' Garden", was this. He described it as accidentally deep and spiritual.
  • 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".
  • The Southpaw: 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.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "I Am The Walrus" famously includes snippets from a BBC radio production of "King Lear". John Lennon drones out "cran-berry 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, nothing was 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.
    • The rest of the Beatles toyed around with stage names during their early years, with John Lennon briefly going by the name "Long John". Paul McCartney was a particular fan of this, adopting the alias "Paul Ramone" during the group's time in Hamburg.
  • 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 (in two parts) here and 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 below).
  • Subdued Section: "Help!"
  • Subliminal Seduction: From Revolver onwards, the band got into the habit of including backwards 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 backwards music.
    • Unfortunately, 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".
  • 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/Ah ah, Mr. Wilson/If you don't want to pay some more/Ah ah, Mr. Heath."

      • Actually, John wrote the part with Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. George went to John for help on "Taxman" durind a period of time when Paul had a grudge against George for a publicly unknown reason.
  • 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 stuff in particular was based around simple three-chord melodies; they started experimenting with various other formats later.
    • 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.
    • They would actually learn from word of mouth who knew this chord, or who knew that chord, and would drive around in their van to wherever they needed to get to, drive 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", "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: Sgt. Pepper for Concept Albums and art rock.
  • Trope Maker: As noted above.
    • 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 stictly 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.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "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 fueled 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, and "Good Morning Good Morning" has completely screwed up verses. "Happiness is a Warm Gun" (from The White Album) has alternating measures of 9/4 and 10/4 in one section. While the chorus of The Beatles' "All You Need is Love" is in Common Time, the verses are all in 7/8.
  • Unplugged Version: George Harrison recorded a well-known acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It finally got released on The Beatles Anthology.
  • Vocal Tag Team
  • 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.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: "Hello Goodbye" and the single version of "Get Back".

Notes

  1. CNET article
  2. BBC News article
  3. Every album in stereo, whether it was originally mixed in stereo or not (They Changed It, Now It Sucks, as some would say)
  4. Every album originally in mono, a form which many consider purest to the group's intent. However, you don't get any albums that were originally in stereo
  5. "Number Nine... Number Nine... Number Nine..."