10 Of The Beatles’ Best Vocal Performances

(via paulontheruntour.blogspot.com)

(via paulontheruntour.blogspot.com)

One of my favourite things about The Beatles is how they never had a lead singer. Each member had opportunities to sing, and with this, they brought their four contrasting perspectives to the band’s music. And of course, they had two of the greatest rock singers of all time: Paul, his voice one of the few with technical merits in rock music, and John, traditionally rougher, yet arguably more passionate and raw. So with all this, it is hardly surprising that there are plenty of stunning moments in The Beatles’ discography when it comes to vocals. So today, I’m naming a few of my favourites! So, in no particular order:

‘This Boy’ (B-side to ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, 1963)

SUNG BY: John, Paul & George

‘This Boy’ was the public’s introduction to the three-part harmonies that John, Paul and George would practise together, and what an introduction it is! The three sing absolutely beautifully together, their contrasting voices fitting perfectly. John’s lead, too, during the bridge is wonderfully passionate and raw. Although ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’s cultural impact was obviously considerably larger, it is these vocals that make the B-side musically superior, in my opinion.

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: John

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ is perhaps the best example of John’s vocal abilities. Each section of the song – spanning from surreal psychedelia, to hard rock, to (somewhat satirical) doo-wop – demands a different kind of singing, and John handles this task with ease. Changing swiftly from low to high, and switching styles – from heavier, rockier vocals in the middle, to a lighter falsetto tone in the end – to suit each section’s respective genre, his vocals are especially wide-ranging and impressive here.

‘Helter Skelter’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: Paul

‘Helter Skelter’ is among The Beatles’ heaviest songs – of which there are many, of course, but few as influential as this. Often regarded as one of the first metal songs, it is easy to see why. Alongside the relentless instrumentation is Paul’s vocal. Much like his Little Richard impersonation from earlier in the band’s career, but with more bite, Paul screams the lyrics like a true metal singer. Dirty, menacing and raw, they are arguably the best part of a song that foreshadowed Zeppelin’s debut album by several months…

‘Because’ (Abbey Road, 1969)

SUNG BY: John, Paul & George

‘Because’ is the last Beatles song to feature John, Paul & George’s famously magnificent three-part harmonies. Each Beatle’s voices were overdubbed twice, creating a chorus of nine voices in total, adding to the overwhelming beauty of arguably the prettiest ballad on Abbey Road. The kind of vocals that send tingles down the listener’s spine, the song shows that even when the band was rife with infighting, they still possessed a musical chemistry that most bands can only dream of.

‘Girl’ (Rubber Soul, 1965)

SUNG BY: John

John’s vocals on ‘Girl’ are almost hypnotic. Like with ‘Oh! Darling’ for Paul (see below), the song contains one of John’s most passionate performances. He doesn’t just sing the lyrics; he conveys them – acts them, almost – with such an emotion, a sadness and yearning for the girl that the narrator will never have. They highlight the complexity and beauty of the song, adding to the magnificence of one of John’s best ballads.

‘Here, There and Everywhere’ (Revolver, 1966)

SUNG BY: Paul

One of my Beatles songs – and probably my favourite Paul-penned one – ‘Here, There and Everywhere’s vocals are delicately beautiful in style, much like the song itself. Paul’s dreamy lead highlights the song’s exquisiteness; however, his vocals are not the only stand-out, in my opinion. John and George’s Beach Boys-inspired backing vocals are stunning, too, and aid in bringing a beautiful song, regardless of its arrangement, to a truly ethereal level.

‘Long, Long, Long’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: George

‘Long, Long, Long’, in my opinion, has George’s best Beatles vocals. A soft, “floating” folk song, George’s singing is understated and gentle, suiting the track excellently. However, during the middle eight, the vocals become more intense and stirring, in a way that his singing had never been before. The vocals are perhaps the best part of a song that has long (no pun intended!) been among my Beatley favourites…

‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: John

‘Everybody’s…’ is another of my favourite Beatles hard rock songs – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s incredibly fun to listen to. John’s vocals are essential to this quality. Whilst not as rousing as, say, ‘Girl’, they are perfect for the song; quite high, and slightly rough (in a good way), they are just as fun as the music itself. Together with the great guitars, they help make one of my favourite songs on the White Album!

‘Oh! Darling’ (Abbey Road, 1969)

SUNG BY: Paul

Each day for a week before recording ‘Oh! Darling’, Paul would go to Abbey Road each morning and practise the song to roughen his voice, as he felt it was too clear beforehand. And boy, was it worth it! Paul’s vocals on ‘Darling’, to me, are his most passionate and are perhaps his best. Like with ‘Helter Skelter’, he screams the words, but with an emotion that was missing a little from the former. They give the song a feeling that makes it among the best on Abbey Road.

‘I’m Only Sleeping’ (Revolver, 1966)

SUNG BY: John

John’s vocals sound fittingly lazy on ‘I’m Only Sleeping’. Of course, ‘lazy’ in the best possible sense – he sighs the lyrics tiredly, yet passionately, like someone who has recently been woken, and is pleading to be left alone. However, he adds the right amount of effort to his performance, making it particularly good. As with ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, the backing vocals are also a highlight – delightfully whimsical, they, too, suit the lazily psychedelic vibe of the song.

 

What are your favourite Beatles vocal performances? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

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12 thoughts on “10 Of The Beatles’ Best Vocal Performances

  1. All of these are great. I also love Lennon’s raw vocal on Hey Bulldog (one of the reasons why it is my favourite Beatles song) and the ‘late to the cannon’ song Leave My Kitten Alone’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! I agree that ‘Happiness Is…’ is especially great, too!
    And thanks for your suggestion! John’s voice on ‘Twist and Shout’ is perhaps one of the best vocal performances in rock – ever – so I totally agree! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you! And thanks for your suggestions, too! I should have included ‘Hey Bulldog’, as the vocals were what made me love the song in the first place (it is one of my favourite Beatles songs, too)! I also completely agree about ‘Leave Me Kitten Alone’ and ‘Slow Down’ – John really was a great rock’n’roll singer, and they show this so well. They are both undeservedly underrated, too, and certainly deserve more attention than they get! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks! I agree that there are too many others to mention, as well. ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ is definitely a wonderful song (it’s one of my favourite Beatles songs, as well), and ‘Girl’ is wonderful, as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic choices. (Sorry, I know I’m spamming your blog with comments now.)

    Helter Skelter is just perfect as far as Paul’s vocals go. Any time he gets out of the soft ballad-y sound (or “granny music” as John used to call it) and lets his voice roar is always brilliant.

    And “This Boy” is just an eargasm.

    One that also stands out for me is their cover of “Mr Moonlight.” I don’t find the song itself particularly remarkable, musically or vocally, but that opening from John: “Misteeeeeeeeeeeeer Mooooonlight”. Wow. I could just play those first few seconds over and over.

    Also, even though he hated the recorded version because his voice was destroyed and falling apart, I have a soft spot for “Twist and Shout”. (I know, another cover.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks! Totally agree about ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘This Boy’; ‘Skelter’ is probably my favourite Paul vocal performance – his hard-rock vocals really are incredibly underrated – and ‘This Boy’ needs no explanation! ‘Mr Moonlight’ often gets a bad wrap from Beatles fans, but the passion and strength that John invests into those opening vocals easily makes up for the lack of greatness about the rest of the song! And ‘Twist and Shout’ is, again, easily among the best of John’s vocals, despite the fact he hated them.
    And no need to apologise! I love getting comments. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I personally find John’s vocal on I Want You (She’s So Heavy) to be very sensual and grating. I could feel how desperate Lennon was with his craving for Yoko.

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