The Beatles are often called the greatest rock band of all time. For one decade (1960-1970), The Beatles helped transform modern music and developed a musical catalog that very few have ever matched.
The Beatles’ best-known lineup included John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. George Martin is often called the “fifth Beatle” as their longtime producer.
Formed in Liverpool, England in 1960 – The Beatles helped bring the British Invasion to the United States and years later helped evolve the way music and records were recorded and produced. The album Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) was named Rolling Stone magazine’s Greatest Album of All-Time in 2003 – with many of the voters citing this album pioneering the way for the music industry.
The Beatles released over 200 songs and a dozen studio albums. The Beatles have an estimated sales of 600 million units worldwide, making them the best-selling music act of all time.
Table of Contents
The Beatles – By the Numbers
When you are as influential as The Beatles, you have plenty of demo tracks, raw takes, and vault items released over the years. The die-hard Beatle fans want it all – and we can certainly appreciate this. Things get confusing when you take a look at how records and songs were released during The Beatles era. Over time, the “core catalog” has become adopted as the official discography of The Beatles. The UK discography is comprised of 213 songs.
Variations of The Beatles
Although there were former members of the band, The Beatles’ core group included Paul, John, George, and Ringo on all studio albums. Over the decade, their sound and subgenre slightly changed.
British Invasion Beatles
The Beatles released Please Please Me in 1963 and for the next several years would be at the height of Beatlemania. The albums slowly morphed from Merseybeat and Chuck Berry’s classic rock and roll to catchy pop tunes with a rock and roll sound. If you could hear the music over the female screams, you would notice some notable favorites like “A Hard Day’s Night” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
The Beatles are famous for their moptops and suits during this era.
It can be argued that the Psychedelic Beatles start with Rubber Soul. There is no question that by Revolver (1966) The Beatles have transitioned to a new sound. During this era, The Beatles cemented themselves as pioneers in production. The band no longer toured and focused on albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
Psychedelic Beatles are often linked with drug use and the counterculture movement of the late-60’s.
The Beatles (1968) was the start of the last phase of The Beatles. Notably known as The White Album, The Beatles did not let a single genre define their music. Each song seemed to have a signature stamp from John, Paul, George, or Ringo. It was very clear that each member had their songs and they performed together, but they could have easily been released as songs on solo albums.
Some would say this is the “Back to Basics” Beatles where they focused on Rock and Roll, but you still get some production masterpieces Abbey Road.
Suggested Music Sample of The Beatles
Although The Beatles have a very manageable discography, we can provide you with a sample size to form an accurate opinion on the group.
Help! is at the very tail end of the early works and gives you a taste of their classics, while also a few obscure tracks that will let you know if you should sample the earlier albums.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Although you could argue that Magical Mystery Tour has more hits, Sgt. Pepper’s is the album you need to listen to so you can experience The Beatles as they fired on all cylinders.
The Beatles (1968)
Referred to as The White Album, sampling this double album will test your limits as a true Beatles fan. You will get to hear some of the best (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”) and some of the worst (“Revolution 9”).
Ranking the Best Beatles Album
The Beatles released 12 qualified studio albums. Although mash-up albums like Love (2006) and compilations like Past Masters (1988) are excellent listens, we only reference albums in the “core catalog”.
Ranking the Best Beatles Song
The Beatles had plenty of music that was released but never included in studio albums. During The Beatles’ tenure as a band, they released 63 singles and 36 EPs. Although remixes and alternate versions don’t qualify, if there was an official release of a Beatles song, we listened and rated.
Beatles Music Videos
"Don't Let Me Down"
Although there were several iconic videos from the famous rooftop concert in 1969, “Don’t Let Me Down” captures the atmosphere perfectly.
A few years earlier, The Beatles started using cinematic techniques in their promotional videos. “Penny Lane” went next level and was one of the early examples that video narrative can help promote songs.
"Strawberry Fields Forever"
“Strawberry Fields Forever” acts as a true music video (not just a recording of the band playing live). The produced video is perfectly in sync with experimental songs The Beatles were releasing at the time.
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Filmed during the height of Beatlemania, A Hard Day’s Night follows The Beatles as they prepare for a television performance. This film helped showcase the personality and charisma of the group, leading the way for even more future success.
The Beatles add a little more fantasy in their second film Help! Ringo is in danger and The Beatles work to protect their friend from becoming a human sacrifice. This film is in color, which is a big deal for the kids.
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Not everything The Beatles touched turned to gold. Magical Mystery Tour seems like a fun idea, but a little too spontaneous to be considered a good film. The soundtrack though…that’s a different story.
The Beatles Anthology (1995)
Nearly 30-years after The Beatles took over the music industry, we were served a three-volume documentary covering the start and end of the band. The highlight for many was the two new songs based on Lennon demo recordings.
The Compleat Beatles (1982)
Although it’s tough to compare against The Beatles Anthology, this 1982 documentary does a great job giving you a run-down of the success and shortcomings of the iconic band – all within 2-hours.
Get Back (2021)
TV Show, Movie, or Documentary – it’s tough to really define exactly what Get Back is. It’s probably a combination of all the above. We are a fly on the wall, watching The Beatles as they recorded Let It Be and it’s terrific.
Concerts & Television Appearances
The Ed Sullivan Show (02/23/64)
The Beatles came to America and took over. Their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was an official coming-out party. If you were alive, you remember exactly where you were in time when Ed Sullivan proclaimed “The Beatles!”.
The Beatles at Shea Stadium (08/15/65)
You might not be able to hear the music, but you certainly could hear the crying fans during this 1965 concert. With over 55,000 fans in attendance, this milestone was the first major stadium concert.
Our World TV Special (06/25/67)
Broadcasted live, The Beatles performed in front of an estimated 400 million viewers via global satellite. Surrounded by other high profile guests (Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, and Graham Nash), The Beatles performed “All You Need is Love” – which legend states Lennon wrote less than a month prior.
Favorite Beatles Podcasts
The Todcast with Eric!
Music Ranked! creator Eric talks about his number one band: The Beatles, whom Todd (surprisingly) only truly discovered in recent years. The Hersey brothers share their thoughts, memories, and some of Eric’s research.
Producing the Beatles
This is a nifty show that talks about George Martin and how he produced the group. After listening to a few shows, you will understand the importance of George Martin in albums like Sgt. Peppers and his lack of involvement in other albums.
Something About The Beatles
As the name implies, this podcast series covers everything Beatles. From facts, interviews, and everything in between, if you like podcasts and like the Beatles, well…
Top Rated Beatles Books
You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup
Acclaimed journalist Peter Doggett recounts the previously untold story of the dramatic final chapter in the lives, loves, and legal battles of John, Paul, George, and Ringo—aka The Beatles—from their breakup in 1969 to the present day.
Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World
Dreaming the Beatles tells the story of how four lads from Liverpool became the world’s biggest pop group, then broke up—but then somehow just kept getting bigger. This book is a celebration of that music, showing why the Beatles remain the world’s favorite thing—and how they invented the future we’re all living in today.
The Beatles: The Authorized Biography
There’s only one book that ever truly got inside the Beatles and this is it. The landmark, worldwide bestseller that has grown with the Beatles ever since. During 1967 and 1968, Hunter Davies spent eighteen months with the Beatles at the peak of their powers as they defined a generation and rewrote popular music.
Best Beatles Websites
Not many bands have entire websites dedicated to them – if you don’t count Wikipedia and biography pages on AllMusic or Rollingstone (of course). The Beatles, on the other hand, have more than enough dedicated sites and pages to their history and continuos impact on popular music.
Our Memories of The Beatles
It’s likely that the large majority of the world has heard at least one Beatles song. Most adults can name members of The Beatles, songs, and albums. During someone’s lifetime, especially music lovers, you will likely have a memory linked directly to this band.
Backstory of The Beatles and Me: Eric Hersey Memories
My father, William E. Hersey, was a rock n’ roll drummer. He often moved around the furniture in our living room and set up ...
Where Do The Beatles Rank?
Critics and casual music fans tend to agree in large quantities – The Beatles are one of the best. Even if you have a personal favorite that outrank The Beatles, it’s hard to argue with the pure volume of individuals that put this group in their top 10.
Using the Music Ranked process and ranking formula, The Beatles managed to earn a very favorable score from our authors and readers.