There are a lot of “Worst Beatle Songs” lists out there, and they all have the same formula. The writer lists 2-3 songs that are absolute duds, and then sprinkles in a few that are actually classics just to fuck with people’s long held opinions. In preparing for this piece, I read those articles, many written by major magazines, and top online blogs, and saw songs like “Hey Jude,” “All You Need is Love,” “Yesterday,” and “Penny Lane.” It’s simply a travesty, even if you are just trying to get attention, to lump any of those songs onto a “worst ever” list, and you won’t see it here. Also, its mandatory for all of these writers to include “Revolution #9,” a song loathed and skipped the world over. I know its equally pretentious to claim being a fan of “Revolution #9,” but count me as one. I just think it adds richness and color to the “White Album.” It’s interesting to listen to, not a bore at all, and has really nice snippets of sound effects and music woven into it very beautifully. It’s experimental, daring, and fuck you for criticizing the Beatles for trying something off the wall after giving you the soundtrack to your life. Ok, with all that said, I’m going to give you the three worst Beatle songs according to me. Now, I also want to preface, that despite the fact that I think these songs are terrible, I still let them play if they pop on my iPod, and they still get stuck in my head.
#3. “Mr. Moonlight”- This is a song that finds its way on most lists, and for good reason; its probably the worst cover the Beatles ever did. John’s lead vocal is forced and the backing vocals are lame. It’s one of these ancient 50s standards that the Beatles can’t quite seem to bring into the next decade. I just don’t understand why the guys liked this song enough to put it on one of their albums. The lyrics are insanely embarrassing and bad, “we love you, Mr. Moonlight.” Lastly, when they repeat “Mr. Moonlight” to end the song with a dark three part harmony, its just dreadful, and possibly the worst harmonizing they ever laid on tape.
#2. “A Taste of Honey”- Another cover song. This one has lyrics more thoroughly embarrassing then “Mr. Moonlight,” and musically, its just as awful. It’s some kind of dark samba like shuffle with utterly bizarre emotional and lyrical moments with the main dramatic hook being biggest offender, “A taste of HONEY!…tasting, much sweeter, then wine, doo doo do dooo!” The thing about this song is that it’s terrifyingly catchy. You will probably be humming the start and stop melody for a week in the back of your brain after hearing, so be warned. Perhaps the Beatles recorded it to show off their range at playing show tunes, or perhaps they appreciated its catchy refrain, the number one ingredient they were searching for in their own songwriting. Whatever they were really thinking when making “A Taste of Honey,” is hard to fathom, and thus can only be appreciated with irony, delicious as it might be.
#1. “Do You Want to Know a Secret”- Before George was George, he was just the youngest member of the Beatles. He hadn’t cultivated any songwriting ability, and his voice wasn’t as strong as John or Paul’s, but being a Beatle, he had a massive fan base that wanted to hear from him. So, John and Paul took it upon themselves to write songs for George and Ringo, and were quite clever about it. They realized that there would be a huge demand for it, and that they could give the lesser songs, they themselves to embarrassed to sing, to George and Ringo, just to get rid of them. One of these songs was “Do You Want to Know a Secret.” Right away, you can tell why John dumped this thing on George. It starts off with an ambitious declaratory and unmusical refrain, but then kicks off into the schmaltziest take on 60s doo-wop ever heard. The backing vocals say it all, “doo-wah-doo” sung after ever line with shameless pixie like stupidity. The most immortal line, “I’ve known a secret for a week or two, nobody knows, just we twoooo,” is a crime not only against music, but grammar as well. John famously said that he gave it to George because, “it only had three notes and he wasn’t the best singer in the world.” He did qualify the brutally harsh statement by saying “he has improved a lot since then.” John said that in 1980, a full decade after George’s rise to genius songwriter/performer, so he’s either being sarcastic by limiting his praise for George, or just outright mean. Either way he ignores the fact that he wrote the stupid song, and it would sound awful coming from anybody. On the plus side, there is still something magical going on, mainly its unstoppable catchiness. The melody is timeless…existing at the lowest wrung of timeless melodies, but hanging in, somehow. It proves that even at their worst, the Beatles had some enchanted sense of beauty that permeated everything they touched…..doo-wah-dooo.