Thursday, 15 March 2012

The 20 greatest Lennon and McCartney "pure" pop songs

According to me, you understand. Don't get upset. And this is "pure" pop. That means no slow loveliness like Here, There And Everywhere, no avant-garde craziness like I Am The Walrus, and no heavy-ish rockiness like Get Back. Just exciting pop!

[20] - From Me To You

Lennon and McCartney wrote more great pop songs than anyone else has ever managed to. From Me To You isn't one of my favourites, but it was a big hit, so ...

[19] - Can't Buy Me Love

Yeah, a big one. I don't really like it all that much. I remember taping bits of it when I was seven years old, along with bits of other songs, in a mad attempt to create a new song, hoping that no one would notice. Sampling? Oh, I was a pioneer. 1976!

[18] - A Hard Day's Night

One of their most famous early hits, with the famous opening chord. However, I prefer the Peter Sellers version.

[17] - All My Loving

Probably the first great song that Paul McCartney wrote by himself. Unless there's an earlier song the sneaky git hasn't told us about. I wouldn't put it past him.

[16] - Every Little Thing

Another nice McCartney song, but sung by Lennon for some reason, with Paul providing a harmony vocal.

[15] - Paperback Writer

Paul's trying to tell a story with the lyrics. I don't know why. There's no harm in it, I suppose. Influenced (musically) by The Beach Boys.

[14] - And Your Bird Can Sing

This is from Revolver. The Beatles were getting more experimental and serious, and "pure" pop songs were becoming a thing of the past. I love the lead guitar on this track. I could also mention Got To Get You Into My Life from the same album. Well, I just have.

[13] - You're Going To Lose That Girl

An exciting song with a great Lennon vocal. McCartney and Harrison doing great backing vocals as well. I like the bit at the end when Ringo falls through the floor. I mean, in the film.

[12] - The Word

One of the least well-known songs on my list, but an amazing album track (from Rubber Soul). I reckon it has The Beatles' best vocal performance.

[11] - We Can Work It Out

A brilliant example of John and Paul working together. Paul wrote the main parts of the song, while John chipped in with the 'Life is very short' section.

[10] - Nowhere Man

Late '65 and the lyrics are starting to get serious. There's no need to worry though. Nowhere Man is still a great pop song. / However, the late Ian MacDonald doesn't agree with me - for reasons best known to himself. Revolution In The Head, his book, is certainly worth reading. But the problem is that MacDonald seems to think pop music should be written about as if it were fine art or great literature or even classical music. It's pop music!

[9] - Ticket To Ride

A slow, powerful song that builds momentum. My favourite bit is Lennon's 'Ah' at 2.31.

[8] - Eight Days A Week

The best song on Beatles For Sale. Having said that, I have a soft spot for I Don't Want To Spoil The Party, which is actually a sort of country song.

[7] - Help!

An upbeat piece of music with downbeat lyrics. Originally slower, but speeded up no doubt to take people's minds off Lennon's desperate cry for help!

[6] - Drive My Car

Six of their most exciting pop songs now. Very well-recorded this one, with the piano and guitar solo and all the rest of it. (Oh, I'm no Ian MacDonald, am I?)

[5] - Day Tripper

A classic Beatles moment from 1.30 to 1.40. You can just see the shaking heads. Well, I can.

[4] - I Feel Fine

The first ever use of feedback on a record, or so "they" say. Great repeating guitar riff on this song - maybe the best they ever came up with.

[3] - Please Please Me

The Beatles' first success in Britain, after the lacklustre Love Me Do. There's a version where you can hear Lennon laughing at the fun (or absurdity) of it all.

[2] - She Loves You

The ultimate Beatlemania song. It literally sounds like mania! I like the bit when old Steptoe pops up. In the film, of course. The other film.

[1] - I Want To Hold Your Hand

Lame lyrics by today's standards (maybe even early Sixties' standards) but this is an incredible pop song. They broke America with this song, and it became their best-selling single. Thirteen million copies worldwide! You can't argue with that.


Oh, and an honourable mention to George Harrison's best pop song, Taxman.