The Beatles did not exist in the MTV Music Video era, but they were pioneers in the way music videos were created and used for promotion. Not every band has the popularity to have full feature films created, but The Beatles managed to have several movies – all featuring music segments that we would (today) call music videos.
Top 10 Beatles Music Videos
Best Beatles Music Videos
The Beatles used cinematic techniques to promote their music starting with “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”. Even before 1966, The Beatles were featured on prominent talk shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and their recorded performances would be the equivalent of a music video today.
Beatles’ songs were later released with video elements, officially giving some of their songs “music videos”. You will be able to find many of their songs as promotional films, but it’s up to the interpretation of what is an “official” music video.
For the sake of our ranking, we are using official videos released by The Beatles during their active time as a band (including their short stint during the Anthology recordings).
"Strawberry Fields Forever"
The Beatles will not be known for having the best music videos, but they did create several that are worth watching (or experiencing). “Strawberry Fields Forever” is a near-perfect visual interpretation of the song. The psychedelic nature of the music blends well with the absurdity and visuals of the promotional film.
The Beatles provided this promotional film as a way to avoid public appearances, promoting the new tracks.
"Free as a Bird"
Although it may seem like cheating, “Free as a Bird” is one of two modern music videos that The Beatles produced as a band (the other being “Real Love”). For those who are used to MTV Music Videos, this film is more than just the band singing while being recorded.
A bird flies around historic Beatles landmarks, imposing older versions of the band into the film. It has been estimated that the video includes between 80 and 100 allusions to the Beatles’ story, music and lyrics.
Fearing that The Beatles would lose popularity, manager Brian Epstein looked to get the band back in front of an audience in 1966. The promotional film “Penny Lane” was created to put the group back into the public eye.
“Penny Lane” showcases the band riding horses and shots of the real Penny Lane in Liverpool. Unlike the previous videos “Rain” and “Paperback Writer”, The Beatles don’t attempt to sing the song during the film.
"A Day in the Life"
Many of The Beatles’ music videos were “trippy” to say the least. “A Day in the Life” is a chaotic look at the band and orchestra during their recording sessions.
The video features cameos from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Micahel Nesmith – along with random visuals of London.
“Hey Jude” was filmed with a studio audience and the final film was a combination of several takes. The Beatles start the song and after several minutes, members of the audience surround the group.
The video aired on Frost in 1968 – a talk show featuring David Frost (journalist). Author Mark Hertsgaard describes the video as “a quintessential sixties moment”, referring to the crowd made up of all ages and ethnicities.
Although the song was released years earlier on Revolver, the video was created for the film Yellow Submarine. Although the film has several “music videos” embedded, “Elanor Rigby” tends to work as a standalone without needing context from the movie.
The special effects and animation matches real-life imagery and cartoons – but brilliantly embodies the tone and somberness of the song.
"Don't Let Me Down"
Rolling Stone magazine states that “Don’t Let Me Down” is The Beatles’ story in one song. Filmed during the legendary rooftop concert, “Don’t Let Me Down” was performed twice, with the second performance being when the police officers entered the rooftop.
Along with “Get Back”, this video documents a very historic moment in Beatles history – which we can all enjoy in the Get Back documentary.
Along with the video for “Rain”, “Paperback Writer” was The Beatles first time shooting a cinematic music video to promote their songs. Of course, The Beatles had live recordings and also clips from their films, “Paperback Writer” is viewed as a standalone video that became the standard for future music videos.
Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg filmed the video on May 20, 1966 at the Chiswick house in west London and was first broadcasted on June 2.
The Ballad of John and Yoko"
Most of the action in The Beatles’ music videos had very little to do with the lyrics. They often were consistent in tone, but “The Ballad of John and Yoko” had more of a narrative. The promotional film had clips of John and Yoko traveling on their honeymoon, edited together for a nice documentary, which also mirrored the lyrics in the song.
There were two released versions of the music video, with the second version having more events and locations.
The music videos created by The Beatles were nothing spectacular by todays standards. Watching most of the videos leave you slightly underwhelmed and you thought the “greatest band of all-time” would do much better. Rounding out the top Beatles Music Videos is “Hello, Goodbye” – which somewhat tells you the videos don’t live up to the actual songs.
Filmed on November 10, 1967 – The Beatles sport their Sgt. Pepper uniforms, which is what makes this video standout from the rest. Hula dancing at the end is a nice way to end the video, but if you aren’t a big Beatles fan – you might not stick around.
Other Notable Beatles Music Videos
The Beatles had well over 200 studio songs with many of them being converted into promotional videos. Even though The Beatles stopped touring for their later albums, there were plenty of live performances converted to videos as well.
Music videos progressed through the 80s and 90s – so when The Beatles had the chance to make an actual music video for the time, you get a much better story and something that resembles our MTV.
There are plenty of “videos” on the Internet that take classic songs and create “music videos”. Many are fan made or unauthorized. Although we won’t count “Glass Onion” as a music video created by The Beatles, this is on their website and approved by someone in charge.
"Eight Days a Week"
Much like other enhanced or produced videos released promoting box sets or re-releases, “Eight Days a Week” is a great video tribute to The Beatles during Beatlemania.
Album Movies & Documentaries
A few of The Beatles’ albums are actually soundtracks for Beatles movies. Although the movies and the albums are perfect stand-alone projects, you can gain some additional appreciation for the albums by watching the films.
If you weren’t familiar with the film and put on Yellow Submarine, you would likely be alarmed and surprised by songs like “Sea of Time” or “March of the Meanies”. These instrumental songs make a lot more sense after watching the movie.
A Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery Tour all fit for this situation (movies that were equally soundtrack as films), but A Hard Day’s Night does the best job representing the most realistic version of the band at the time of filming.
This Disney+ release does a great job documenting the final Beatles album – Let It Be. Watch The Beatles perform on the rooftop or eavesdrop on John and Paul in the kitchen. This documentary captures The Beatles brilliantly.
Album Concerts & Television Appearances
The Ed Sullivan Show (02/23/64)
Beatlemania started in the United States with this legendary appearance. The Beatles made several stops at The Ed Sullivan Show, but their first appearance was primarily promoting Meet the Beatles! (US equivalent of With the Beatles).
The Beatles at Candlestick Park (08/29/66)
The Beatles had their final paid concert in front of 25,000 fans at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Promoting Yesterday and Today/Revolver, the 1966 US promotional tour would be the groups last.
The Tonight Show (05/14/1968)
A rare early Beatles television interview, John and Paul are guests on The Tonight Show with guest host Joe Garagiola. John and Paul discuss the formation of Apple and how their music has changed from album to album.
More Beatles Songs
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.
You Might Also Like these Related Music Videos
Although it’s rare to find long-form interviews with members of the band, you will find some very well-produced shows and episodes detailing the Fab Four’s career. There are entire series dedicated to the group and also standalone shows talking about single songs.
The Monkees were certainly inspired by The Beatles – and so could be said about some of the early videos. “Daydream Believer” looks like something that would have been featured in “Help!”.
"Nights in White Satin"
Much like “Rain” and “Paperback Writer”, The Moody Blues and “Nights in White Satin” showcases the band playing in odd locations.
"Can't Get It Out Of My Head"
Although not prominently featured on our list, The Beatles “Lady Madonna” resembles the studio recording vibe of ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”.