Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did
I’m not sure whether you know The Beatles or not, but I totally recommend you check them out, they’re pretty good. So good, in fact, that the most difficult aspect of writing this article about my favourite band of all time, was to only include 10 points instead of 50. They have achieved so much! They continue to achieve so much! I am so proud of them! Which is why I grew quite overwhelmed and panicky as to which angle was the best to attack this demanding subject with.

I mean, I could easily flood your mind with facts like, for example, in 1964, when The Beatles occupied the top five positions of the U.S. Billboard singles chart, the top two positions on the U.S. album chart, the #1 slot on the British singles chart, the top two positions on the British album chart, and the #1 position on the British EP chart, all at the same time. It'd be almost too predictable to go on about how they are the highest selling band ever, or how they’ve had more #1 singles than anybody, or how they’ve had the most #1 albums since #1 existed. Yes, they hold the record for the longest span between #1 albums (36 years, 51 weeks). Yes, they’ve spent a total of 174 weeks at #1, more than any other artist in history. We know they've won three Brit Awards, nine Grammys, and an Oscar. We know they were granted MBEs. It's common knowledge that the Guinness World Records recognises McCartney as the most successful songwriter of all time, with his 188 charted records, as well as his song Yesterday (which he wrote in his sleep) having been covered by more than 2,200 artists. The man in question is also the only human being to have a #1 hit song solo; as part of a duo (Ebony and Ivory with Stevie Wonder), a trio (Wings), a quartet (The Beatles), and a quintet (Get Back, The Beatles with Billy Preston). I could even focus on how each Beatle performed vocals, or how they brought Eastern influence into Western musical culture, or how they achieved all of this in only ten years. Fuck man, I could talk about a whole load of things, but I won’t. Even though I just did.

Rather, I decided to target the following 10 Beatles facts on some of the lesser-known Fab Four accomplishments. Things which have either been forgotten or continuously overlooked by fans and enemies alike. It’s actually rather criminal how unspoken some of these magnificent triumphs are, which is why I took it upon myself to spread the word of The Beatles’ genius as far as I could. Because obviously they need my help.


The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 10. They Invented The World Tour And The Stadium Rock Concert
10. The Beatles Invented The World Tour And The Stadium Rock Concert

In the mid-1960s, the British Invasion took place. Bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who had finally outgrown their little island and broke straight into the center of the U.S.A. And naturally, this phenomenon was lead by The Beatles themselves, who by 1964, had their own unique form of hysteria following them around, coined as Beatlemania. The fact that their hair was too long didn’t bother the teenagers, as they screamed and fainted and wet themselves at the very mention of the group, all over the globe.

So naturally, there was money to be made, and it was decided to send the boys out to perform for the masses, from Europe to Japan to Australia to Canada and, of course, to the U.S.A. All the while the kids made so much noise that the band couldn't even hear what they were playing, at times performing completely different songs to each other, and yet nobody cared. This was the first world tour in history.

A year later on their third world tour, The Beatles took it to the next level, and played in front of a 55,000 strong crowd at Shea Stadium, New York. Once again, the audience was deafening, who "couldn't possibly have heard anything but their own screams. For that matter, they didn't seem to want to." It got so ridiculous that Lennon started playing the keyboard with his elbows, but I doubt anyone at the Beatles camp were all too bothered. They earned a record breaking $304,000 for that 30 minute gig, and had inadvertently invented the stadium rock concert.

On a side note, you know how these days it is common place for the drummer to be raised a bit higher than the rest of the band, so that the crowd can see him/her better? Ringo invented that too.

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 09. The Beatles Were The First Earth Band Heard By Aliens. Theoretically.
09. The Beatles Were The First Earth Band Heard By Aliens. Theoretically.

In 2008, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song, the 45th anniversary of the DSN, and the 50th anniversary of NASA, the latter set up a 70 meter dish in Spain, and blasted Lennon’s 1969 track Across The Universe straight towards the star Polaris, 431 light years away. Which basically means that The Beatles have not only been played on every corner of our planet, but perhaps millions more? I’m not sure how space works.

People are quick to point out that this was only the second song to be transmitted into the cosmos, as Russia had done a similar project back in 2001. However, their attempt was that of a theremin concert, which if anything would probably provoke aliens to invade, and I for one do not condone this type of aggression. Other critics consider the program to be ludicrous, as we have no evidence suggesting there are even any planets in that area, let alone if they’d be suitable for life. But while these words flowed out like endless rain into a paper cup, the rest of us thought it was pretty neat.

Across The Universe is one of my least favourite Beatles songs ever, but it was still an apt choice. Much better than, say, A Day In The Life, which ends with a 15-kilohertz high-frequency tone, specifically included to annoy dogs. I mean, that’s a pretty funny move on the band’s part, but I think we should leave the space dogs out of this. They have enough problems of their own.

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 08. The Beatles Invented The Music Video
08. The Beatles Invented The Music Video

In all fairness, the history of the “music video” can be traced back to the 1920s, where “musical short films” started to show their faces, and were quickly followed by 1930s musical cartoons (like those Disney Silly Symphonies and whatnot). The 1940s produced a lot of short musicals with dance sequences, and the 1950s introduced visual jukeboxes, all of which aided the evolution of what today is known as the music video.

But it wasn’t until the sequences in The Beatles’ first feature film, A Hard Day’s Night (1964), that the template for current music videos was born. A year later, their 1965 film Help! progressed it even further, in particular the title track’s segment which featured contrasting long shots, close ups, cross-cutting, and weird camera angles, which went on to be called the prime archetype of the modern day performance-style music video.

Later that year, The Beatles began to regularly produce “promotional clips”; films designed to promote their latest single without the boys having to appear anywhere in person. Sound familiar? This technique eventually evolved into 1967’s Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane videos, which were the first to step away from performance based recordings, and rather focusing on a more narrative structure by utilising reversed film, slow motion and avant-garde colouring. It kinda changed everything.

"So, uh, in a way, I guess we invented MTV." - George Harrison

Not to mention that The Beatles' films themselves also had their unfair share of influence. Allow acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert to elaborate: "Today when we watch TV and see quick cutting, hand-held cameras, interviews conducted on the run with moving targets, quickly intercut snatches of dialogue, music under documentary action and all the other trademarks of the modern style, we are looking at the children of A Hard Day's Night".

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 07. The Beatles Were Involved In Some Very Peculiar Conspiracy Theories
07. The Beatles Were Involved In Some Very Peculiar Conspiracy Theories

It’s debatable as to whether The Beatles actually “did” this or not, but according to many, there are some very dark underlying secrets to this band’s history. Probably the most interesting, was that of Paul McCartney dying in a 1966 car accident, and ultimately replaced by an impostor. Some extremely convincing face analysis aside, the theory goes that The Beatles were so ashamed of what they’d done, that they placed clues in their artwork and lyrics to confess the story and feel much better about themselves. There are literally hundreds of them, but my favourites include:

Sgt Pepper (click here to admire the cover)
A Day In The Life: “He blew his mind out in a car”
The yellow flower arrangement resembles the name “PAUL?”, or a left-handed bass, with one of the four strings missing.
A flaming car.
A Shirley Temple doll with "Welcome The Rolling Stones" on her jumper, a toy car on her lap, and a bloodied glove to her side.
A hand over Paul’s head, blessing the dead.
The best one: when placing a mirror across the drum's center, it reads 1ONE1X HE DIE, with an arrow pointing at Paul.
On the back cover, Paul is facing backwards.

The White Album
Glass Onion: “Here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul”
I’m So Tired: The end incoherent mumbling reversed sounds like “Paul is dead, man. Miss him, miss him, miss him.
Revolution 9: "Number nine" reversed sounds like “Turn me on, dead man."
Page 7 of the booklet shows skeletal hands coming out to grab Paul.

Abbey Road (click here to admire the cover)
Come Together: "One and one and one makes three"
Paul is barefoot, has a different leg forward to the others, and is smoking.
By joining the dots on the back cover, it reads 3 Beatles (cracked).

There are faaaar too many others to list here, but it’s worth your research even if just for a lol.

Related: there is another heavy case circulating which suggests John Lennon’s assassination was ordered by the CIA, but I’ll leave you people to Google that one for yourself.

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 06. The Beatles Wrote The Rolling Stones’ First Top 20 Hit Song
06. The Beatles Wrote The Rolling Stones’ First Top 20 Hit Song

Something which has always amused me is the persistent yet fruitless debate over which band was better: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. I puke! For even if we ignore how many bad albums the Stones have (a lot) versus how many bad albums The Beatles have (uhm, none) or that the Stones charge up to £950 for the chance to see them live whilst The Beatles were a shooting star never to be seen again; there is another little often ignored fact about the relationship between these two legends which people tend to forget. The Beatles Wrote The Rolling Stones’ First Top 20 Hit Song.

In 1963, the two bands bumped into each other and struck up a conversation. Jagger and Richards complained that they needed a new single, and being the nice guys they were, the Lennon/McCartney duo decided to help them out. The two Beatles joined the Stones at their studio session and then quickly wrote a song right in front of their stunned faces, jaws wide open as Jagger-Richards realised they sucked in comparison and had to improve their game dramatically. Which, thankfully, they did.

The song was called I Wanna Be Your Man, and it hit #12 in the UK, giving the Stones their very first chart success story. The Beatles then later re-recorded the song themselves, with Ringo on vocals. Did this mean they were regretful that they’d parted ways with such an obvious winner? Evidently not, as Lennon had the following to say on the matter:

"It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it. We weren't going to give them anything great, right?"

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 05. The Beatles Secretly Hid Naughty Words In Their Lyrics
05. The Beatles Secretly Hid Naughty Words In Their Lyrics

Despite all their love-centric compositions and early overuse of the "yeah yeah yeah" phrase, The Beatles were still vulgar pranksters at heart, carefully slipping bad words into their songs so slyly that most Beatlemaniacs still have no idea what they are singing along to. Here are my top five:

Girl (1965) - Around the 1:00 mark, Harrison and McCartney repeat the word "tit tit tit" over and over again, Beach Boys fashion.

Baby, You're a Rich Man (1967) - Aimed at their gay Jewish manager, Brian Epstein, many claim Lennon alters the lyric to say "Baby, you’re a rich fag Jew" right at the end.

Penny Lane (1967) - Around the 1:36 mark, McCartney states "Four of fish and finger pies", a reference to fish and chips, as well as fingering a lady part.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967) - Lennon denied this song’s initials intentionally spelt out LSD, but he was on fuckloads of acid at the time, so I’m not sure we can take his word for it.

Hey Jude (1968) - Despite still being played on the radio, the 2:47 mark of this song contains the words "Whoa! Fucking hell!". Who said it? And why? Who cares, they left it in anyways.

Related: There was also Lennon’s not-so-hidden blasphemous screams of "Christ, you know it ain’t easy" and "they're gonna crucify me" on The Ballad of John and Yoko, which was pretty controversial for 1969. Well, they were more popular than Jesus, after all.

Finally (and on topic), The Beatles not only knew grimy words, but they also made them up, as the term “grotty” (grotesque) was first coined by George Harrison in their aforementioned film A Hard Day’s Night. Good show, lads.

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 04. The Beatles Sent Brian Wilson Into Madness
04. The Beatles Sent Brian Wilson Into Madness

Welcome to a creative tennis match of biblical proportions. It begins in the wake of The Beatles’ 1965 masterpiece Rubber Soul, the first album in history hailed as an ALBUM, rather than a collection of singles lifted by filler. The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was particularly inspired by the approach, and “answered” with his own solid collection of songs in 1966, namely Pet Sounds. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s only one of the highest regarded albums of all time. So much so, that even The Beatles felt they had been outdone.

Taking on Pet Sounds as their main blueprint, The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper in 1967. It was an attempt at equalling the Beach Boys’ treasure, yet instead snatched the bar from Wilson’s fingers and raised it impossibly higher. Almost all too often, Pepper is hailed as the greatest album of all time, it’s place in history outgrowing Pet Sounds substantially. And that’s when shit went wrong.

Wilson had been working feverishly on his follow up, SMiLE. However, upon hearing Strawberry Fields Forever, he laughed that The Beatles had “beaten him to it”, whilst the little clock of insanity began to chime in his mind. Shortly afterwards, he visited McCartney, who played him A Day in the Life, and Wilson was said to be deeply affected by it. Couple this with an excessive intake of LSD and amphetamines, and Brian couldn’t bear it anymore. He scrapped the SMiLE sessions, had a nervous breakdown, and sat in a sauna for three years straight, voices in his brain threatening to kill him at every head turn.

Wilson came back to reality eventually, and even released SMiLE 35 fucking years later, but it was frequent musical collaborator Van Dyke Parks who described this reclusive period the best:

"Brian had a nervous collapse. What broke his heart was Sgt. Pepper."

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 03. The Beatles Invented Heavy Metal (And Heavily Influenced Hip Hop)
03. The Beatles Invented Heavy Metal (And Heavily Influenced Hip Hop)

In 1968, one very erratic and bloated classic named The White Album arrived, featuring an eclectic mix of 20 songs which ranged from psychedelic rock to blues to avant garde, and yes, even to heavy metal. The song on topic was McCartney’s penned Helter Skelter, which was so loud and dirty that almost all music historians concur it was a key influence in the early development of the metal genre. However, it is generally agreed that the first metal band ever was Black Sabbath, and when you consider that Ozzy credits the 1963 Lennon/McCartney composition She Loves You as his main inspiration for becoming a musician, it only further fuels my case.

Side facts: 1969s I Want You (She's So Heavy) is also cited as one of the first metal songs ever, whilst Helter Skelter itself was one of the first songs to utilise the fade-out fade-back-in technique in history.

But while these influences are common knowledge, are you aware of The Beatles’ impact on hip hop culture? Experimental West Coast producer Nobody stated "Like Tomorrow Never Knows. We all agree that's, like, the first electronic song, because it's all tape loops. It is kind of like the way people go about doing beats these days. They didn't have a key change in the song." Influential Roots drummer ?uestlove praised them with "You have to understand the way they created these records. They had [only] four to eight tracks to work with. Technology wasn't like it is today." and rapper Q-Tip also sucked their dick with "They would lay the music down, manipulate it, fuck with it, try to push it, which is the hip-hop aesthetic." There you go.

Finally, on Paul McCartney’s solo 1969 song That Would Be Something, we can also find one of the first recorded examples of beat boxing.

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 02. The Beatles Convinced Charles Manson To Murder People
02. The Beatles Convinced Charles Manson To Murder People

This entry isn’t as “cool” as it is “weird”, but it’s fascinating all the same. Because Charles Manson wasn’t right in the head, and after developing his Manson Family cult and hearing The White Album for the first time, he decided the band was talking to him personally, prophesying some rather unsettling events. Now, this may seem a little far-fetched, but there was a bit of twisted smarts behind it. Manson believed that, as it was predicted in the Bible, Revelation (Revolution) 9, four angels (The Beatles) would appear with hair like a woman's, breastplates of fire (electric guitars) issuing brimstone from their mouths (lyrics), accompanied by locusts (beetles) to usher in the end of the world.

Due to the title “The White Album” and the recent assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., not to mention songs like Revolution 1, Blackbird, Rocky Racoon and Happiness is a Warm Gun, Manson interpreted the message as one of an inevitable violent race war, and adopted the name Helter Skelter for the apocalyptic battle in his head.

After sending The Beatles countless telegrams in an attempt to convince them to join the cause, Manson decided they would have to start the race war themselves by showing “the blacks how to do it”. And we all know the rest: murders took place, including that of the pregnant American sex symbol Sharon Tate, who was stabbed sixteen times by member (Sexy) Sadie. And even more Beatles-y was their trademark of decorating each crime scene with Beatles' song titles using the victims blood, such as “pig(Piggies), and “Healter Skelter” [sic].

They got caught, and naturally all went to jail, Manson still living there to this day. And, of course, the lovey-dovey Beatles didn’t support this behaviour whatsoever, McCartney stating it was unfortunate that his song inspired people to do evil deeds, and Lennon confirming Charlie was "barmy". No shit.

The 10 Coolest Things The Beatles Ever Did: 01. The Beatles Influenced Every Subsequent Album On The Planet
01. The Beatles Influenced Every Subsequent Album On The Planet

I challenge you to challenge me. Pick up your favourite album, then check if any one of the following applies:

1. Does it have a concept?
Sgt. Pepper is often credited as the first album to popularise the technique.

2. Does it feature the lyrics in the cover?
Again, Sgt. Pepper was the first.

3. Does it contain a hidden track?
Once again, Sgt. Pepper was the first album to have one of these. Abbey Road was the second.

4. Does it feature multitracking?
It does. When only four-track machines were available, The Beatles would record their four, then bounce these recordings back into another single track, giving room for three more to play with. They were the first to think of it.

5. Does it feature feedback/distortion?
I Feel Fine was the first recording to purposefully utilise these processes.

6. Does it feature sampling?
Yellow Submarine is often hailed as the first song to sample.

7. Does it feature any backwards guitar and/or vocals?
Rain was the first song to feature reversed vocals. Tomorrow Never Knows/I’m Only Sleeping were the first to feature reversed cymbals/guitar.

8. Does it feature flanging?
Most likely. Automatic double tracking was Lennon’s idea, Abbey Road engineer Ken Townsend made it happen, Lennon named it. Tomorrow Never Knows was the first song to use it.

9. Is the artwork even remotely good?
Before Sgt. Pepper, album covers generally cost around £50 to make. They spent £3,000 on that image, and changed everything in the process.
Furthermore: The first printed copies of The White Album were individually numbered, an expensive gimmick beyond even what most artists would dare to attempt today.

10. Does it contain a song over 7 minutes?
Hey Jude is 7:11, the then longest single to top the charts, ever. Such a length wouldn’t even fit onto the vinyl, and they had to alter the grooves just to cater for it. The fade out was not intentional, the record was literally losing space.

Enough said? Almost...

And In The End:
If nothing else, I hope this article has proven to you that The Beatles were rad.
Like, did you know they were the first to produce seamless song ordering, where one song would run into the next without a gap, on Sgt. Pepper?
Or how about their 1964 Ed Sullivan Show appearance, where rumour has it not a single crime was reported in America during the hour of their performance, simply because everyone was watching them and because they were superheroes?
Or how about when they invented the rap beef, which I wrote about extensively in this article, here (point 14).
Or how about when they invented the Apple Corporation, which is different to Apple Inc., sure, but it did provoke countless lawsuits, and come to think of it, the Hard Days Night artwork does look suspiciously like an iOS prototype?
Or how about when their 1967 satellite broadcast of All You Need is Love was the first live global television link in entertainment history, being watched by 400 million people in 26 countries, the single largest television audience at that point?

Like I said, I could write a lot more, but my friends tell me that I ramble too much in these blogs, so I'll just leave it here, satisfied that I did good by assuming everyone had a nice time. xxx


  1. Really nice post about our Fab four! thanx!
    Alejandro Luisi -

  2. Hola amigos, excelente. The Fab Four for ever.Lo mas grande.muchas gracias
    Jorge Morales