The Beatles: And their best song is...

Is there even such a thing as the best Beatles song of all time? As the spirited debate still raging in the comments section of yesterday’s post proves, there are dozens, at least, of defensible choices for that title. Whichever song you personally think is the Beatles’ best, chances are you’re right. Yet pick one we must, and the tune that EW‘s staff chose after many hours of listening, re-listening, and arguing over the remastered Beatles catalog was — no jokes this time — 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night,” below.

Here’s how we explained our No. 1 pick in the Top 50 Beatles Songs list that you’ll find in the new issue of EW, on stands today: “Forty-five years after this single hit the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s still nearly impossible to get any two people to agree on what chord that famous opening clang! actually is. But with one majestic, mysterious Rickenbacker distress call, the Beatles as we first met them on The Ed Sullivan Show four months earlier were gone. They’d grown up. The lads had become unwitting passengers on a manic locomotive they’d never be able to disembark from, and the song’s title hints at that weariness. It’s right there in the opening scene of the 1964 film that bears the same name, as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr are chased by a mob of screaming, ravenous fans. This isn’t just a pop song, it’s a cathartic cry for Help!”

Props to commenter Rachel, who made the same call as us: “I would have to say ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ may very well be their best song. From that opening chord all the way through it just screams Rock N Roll is here!”

Do you agree? Pick up the new EW to find out where other favorites like “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” and “Something” placed in our Top 50 rankings. Then let us know what you think of our list in the comments below.

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Beatles fans: You say you want a “Revolution” video? Here you go!
The Beatles: What’s their best song?
Beatles reissues sold out at Amazon: Are fans screwed?
Charlie Watts not quitting Rolling Stones

Comments (134 total) Add your comment
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  • AmyK

    Nice try but not even close to being one of my favorites or “the best”. This is a losing battle though, no one could ever agree on this.

    • Mothra

      Can’t agree… “All You Need is Love” is their best. It sums up Eastern and Western metaphysics in a three and a half minute pop song. Friggin’ brilliant.

    • ryan

      you people need to listen to they’re stuff that didn’t get much airplay. ~Rocky Racoon, Helter Skelter, While my Guitar Gently Weeps….

  • wendyk

    My personal faves are “Let It Be”, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Hey Jude”.

    • Lauren

      Definitely! Those three, along with their slower songs like “Yesterday”, “Across the Universe”, and “Something”. I love the faster ones as well, but I think the later ones have more depth and the tunes are more diverse.

  • crispy


    • crispy

      Ya know, I was actually going to pick up this issue (I canceled my subscription, thankyoutwilight)… but seeing that you chose a weak pop song from early Beatles as their best and you only put 2 of them on the cover makes it quite clear that EW doesn’t “get” the Beatles. So I’ll pass.

      • slats

        I can’t believe what I’m reading (Crispy). Greil Marcus, one of the most erudite and sage music critics in the country, was of the solid theory that the early Beatles were what mattered, they peaked at Rubber Soul, and were little more than mediocre thereafter. And he likes later music by other artists. Point being, one can like early, middle, or late Beatles as a matter of taste (I love them all), but to dismiss the early Beatles in general and “HDN” as a “weak pop song,” you identify yourself as not knowing the genre of rock from your hind end or a hole in the ground. Ditto all the people below who posted similarly moronic opinions.

      • slats

        Furthermore, as Dave Marsh (another of probably the three best most intelligent rock critics with Marcus and Lester Bangs) said, you don’t improve on “She Loves You” (because it is TOO GOOD TO BE IMPROVED UPON), you only expand on it. Which is what the Beatles did.

  • dday

    The correct answer to the question “What is your favorite Beatles song” is “the last one I heard”.

    • Kelly

      This is the best answer for this question that I’ve seen. Totally agree!

    • crispy

      Hardly. “She loves you… yeah, yeah, yeah” is amateurish, nauseating and every bit as vapid as a Black Eyed Peas song.

      • Nerwen Aldarion

        Oh come on, I love to nod my head and dance to that beat. It’s a nice song, nothing extraordinary but still is fun to listen to like more Beatles music

      • Matt

        Just one of many that illustrate why ABBA is so underated….She Loves You vs. Dancing Queen? She Loves You vs. SOS? She Loves You vs. Money, Money, Money? She Loves You vs. Take A Chance on Me? She Loves You vs. The Winner Takes It All? ABBA takes it all with every match up.

      • Nick

        Did you just say ABBA is better than the Beatles? Seriously?

      • Alex

        ABBA better than the Beatles? No offense but that’s not even close to being true.

      • slats

        Ugh, here Crispy goes again… You’re so right, “Fixing a Hole” and “Mr. Kite” are so much better than “She Loves You.” I’ll bet you think Cinderella and Poison are better than the Stooges and New York Dolls too. And how dare rock music be “amateurish.” Dang, this guy Crispy doesn’t understand rock. Go listen to some Englebert Humperdinck.

      • Ken

        I love Abba…but this is about the best Beatles song. Great artist have diverse music and the Beatles proved that greatness. So many songs appeal to so many moods… I think we should just “let it be”

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      Hey you’re right, that is the correct answer!

    • boocat

      Good answer…that about sums it up for me.

    • kahuna

      Hello! You said it. Though, ‘The Long and Winding Road’ and ‘Hey Jude’ literally give me goosebumps. Still, ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ ‘She Loves You,’ and ‘Please Please Me,’ are the great little ditties that put the Fab Four (not Fab Two, EW) on the map. For sure, EW doesn’t “get it” when it comes to the Beatles. They really need to let only people who lived the total experience comment on the subject. All others come across as idiots and fools.

  • Stacy

    I love the Beatles and I have all their albums and the anthology so it’s hard to choose. However, my favorite Beatles song is “Here Comes the Sun.”

    • Jill

      That is so weird. I just heard that song on the radio not 10 minutes ago. I love it too.

  • chris

    “Something” and “Strawberry Fields”

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      Awww Strawberry Fields is my mom’s favorite but we can never find it on CD.

      • Court

        Beatles 1967-1970 (Blue Album)Double Disk CD set has Strawberry Fields. You can find it online at Best Buy and other places I’m sure.

      • thore

        magical mystery tour man!

  • palais

    EW, you disappoint me sometimes.

    • crispy

      I think the biggest problem is this: “the tune that EW’s staff chose.” Who cares what EW’s staff thinks? They should have asked a music historian or rock musicians or members of a fanclub. This is just a column by a group of folks with little credibility.

      • jen

        My god, you’re an A-hole. Just because someone isn’t an “expert” or an historian it doesn’t mean that their pick lacks credibility. None of us are experts, but most of us (though obviously not you) are fans of the music and we are all entitled to our opinions, which are based on our own perceptions and visceral reaction to the music. The EW staff laid out their reason for picking A Hard Day’s Night quite convincingly, and while I don’t agree because that doesn’t happen to be one of my favorite Beatles songs, I respect their opinion. As should you. Quit trolling everyone with your snide and nasty comments.

      • slats

        Crispy, why do you care what those three groups would think anyway, when all three of them would throw you out a window for what you said about “HDN” and “She Loves You?”

  • Mazzy

    Yes we all have faves but having grown up during their heyday, that first chord on the radio and in the film makes it such a dramatic rock and roll record. I know some get confused about a great sing vs a great record. HDN is probable not their best song but it surely is one of their best records.

  • Porter Brinton

    #1 beatles song? “In My Life” It’s at least the most beautifully written.

    • SusanS

      Most beautiful song ever. I want it played at my funeral.

      • Andy

        That’s a wonderful idea! And I love that Im always hear this song whenever I tune in CNN

  • Cynthia

    The Best Beatles Song Ever: Across the Universe.

    • Mothra

      Ooooh, that’s a GOOD one!

  • zaviarwun

    strawberry fields forever is a musical and technical marvel that stands a hair above a day in the life as the beatles best

    “cranberry sauce”

  • Eric

    While My Guitar Gently Weeps is by far the best Beatles song.

    It’s also my favorite Phish cover :)

    • Scott

      your right man, Trey blows that one up! rips up Hendrix and Zep too.

  • Courtney

    “She Said She Said,” “Rain” and “Dear Prudence”…

    • sexy sadie

      I love ‘She Said’ too, definitely in my top 5

  • Marie

    It is rather like picking your favorite child. I like the Beatles – pretty much every song. The opening chord on AHDN is awesome. If I had to I would pick For No One, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Oh Darling, Something (best bassline ever), While My Guitar Gentle Weeps, I Will ,the whole second side of Abbey Road and then all the rest of them with I Want You (She’s so Heavy) coming in at the end with Do You Want to Know A Secret to keep it company.

    • AmyK

      Marie, you are so right! My favorite album by far is Abbey Road and the 2nd side is pure musical genius. I’m only 36 but these youngsters that have only known CDs don’t even know what “a side” of an album means.

    • arun

      I’ve Just Seen A Face and Something are my favourites, too! Although I’d have to throw in Eight Days A Week and I’m Happy Just to Dance With You also.

    • stephanie

      wow marie those would probably be my top picks. “for no one” has been my favorite since I was about 5 years old. and hard day’s night is a good song but the best? eh.

  • nathan

    I really like ‘Because’, I wouldn’t say it’s their best song, but it gets me everytime I hear it.

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