Op-Ed: The Beatles Discography and The Best and Worst of John, Paul, George and Ringo


Photo: Ultimate Classic Rock

Hannah Steyn, Staff Writer

The Beatles aren’t exactly a well-kept secret. You could ask anyone, and even if they don’t claim to be a huge fan of the band, they’ll certainly know who The Beatles are and will likely have a song or two they enjoy.  

The Beatles have been labelled as the most influential band of all time, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with that.

However, a more debatable topic would be that of their discography.

People always seem to have differing opinions on the best and the worst.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Todd Pfannestiel, among many others, rates The Magical Mystery Tour as his least favorite Beatles album relative to all the others. However, this is not to say he doesn’t still enjoy it though.

“Side One has great Beatles music,” Pfannestiel says. “However, side two is full of orchestra music produced by George Martin for the movie – the Beatles don’t perform on any of those tracks.  So, you really are getting only half a Beatles album.” 

Another reason Pfannestiel gives for the album being one of the worst rated is that The Magical Mystery Tour marks the start of The Beatles divide.

“This is also the first Beatles album where you see more and more of their music being recorded by only two or three of The Beatles – not all four of them,” Pfannestiel said. “It’s still great music (like I am the Walrus) – but still sad to see their production becoming divided.”

Sam Onorato, a recent college graduate and avid Beatles fan, finds himself placing a different album on the bottom of the spectrum.

“My least favorite is Beatles for Sale,” he said. “I personally think it has the fewest good songs and it’s just too up-tempo for my liking.” 

Sophomore Cassandra White’s least favorite Beatles album is the White Album because according to her, it’s way too avant garde.

 “I understand that it was made during a discovery period of The Beatles, but the album as a whole is pretty ruined solely due to Revolution 9,” White said. “It does however have some great songs – Happiness is a Warm Gun (one of my favorites of all time), Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Wild Honey Pie.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we often find Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as a fan favorite. This is not only the most popular based on fan opinions, but also the album that sold the most copies – 32 million. This is five million more than their next best selling album, Revolver.

Pfannestiel agrees with this verdict, explaining that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as his all-time favorite Beatles album. This was the band’s first album that was released after they stopped touring and reflected their transition from a live-performing band into a studio-performing band. 

“The music is so creative, and clearly would not have been able to be performed in front of a live concert audience with the technology back then,” he said. “So, basically, it takes the Beatles into a new and unexpected genre of rock. It is The Beatles response to the chaos of living as The Beatles. It was Paul McCartney who suggested they be an imaginary band for this album, and feel free to produce all sorts of new music that really doesn’t sound like The Beatles.”

According to Onorato, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a masterpiece that revolutionized music and inspired psychedelic rock, but he doesn’t list it as his favorite. 

“The best Beatles album is Rubber Soul, followed by Help, in my opinion,” Onorato said. “But Rubber Soul because in it, their music had definitely evolved from their early stuff. It’s more lyrical. It’s deeper and less generic than their earlier albums. Also, my dad would always play Rubber Soul on road trips, so I have a sentimental attachment to it.”

White gives her top spot to A Hard Day’s Night.

“I like it mainly due to the fact that it’s a good transition album,” White said. “I really like how it represents the sound that the Beatles are known for with hits like A Hard Days’ Night and Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Two other albums that fall on the top five albums continuously are Let It Be and Abbey Road, the last two albums recorded before The Beatles broke up. 

Abbey Road, their last recorded album, was seen by many as a briefly reinvigorated band trying one last time to keep themselves together, while before they ultimately fell apart. It gave us some of their most popular songs, including Come Together and Here Comes the Sun, the two highest ranked Beatles songs on Spotify.

 Let It Be, the song after which its album was named, and a favorite of many (myself included), is a close third, followed by Yesterday and Hey Jude to round off the top five most played Beatles songs.