Why The Beatles’ songs are the most covered ever.
Most of you are familiar with the moving tune and words of The Beatles song “Yesterday”. Some of you may even have plans to watch the newly released movie of the same name, directed by Danny Boyle. The movie features an alternate, and frankly unimaginable, timeline in which nobody but one man in the universe remembers any of The Beatles’ songs – a knowledge that unsurprisingly makes him legendary.
But what makes The Beatles’ songs so intriguing. And what made so many artists, from Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley to Aerosmith, Nina Simone and Linkin Park cover them? And why are famous musicians, as well as amateurs, all so inclined to try a hand at these beloved works? One answer is the variety in styles and sound the Beatles invented that is compatible with any audience may it be Rock, Pop, Classic or Country. The Beatles even invented a lot of genres themselves.
Depending on where you are in your musical journey, you may have produced your own Beatles covers, and if you haven’t, you most likely will in the future. In case you need tangible proof, we’ve drawn up four major reasons that we feel makes The Beatles’ music so inspiring to artists at large.
💡 Cannot wait to play The Beatles’ songs? Check out our The Beatles Course with the most famous hits by the ‘Fab Four’!
1. The Beatles’ richness in harmony & chords
Within the first few notes of “Yesterday”, a chord outside the boundaries of popular chord progressions was introduced. Especially considering that it was only the year 1965, the harmonies Paul McCartney (age 23! at the time) used when writing “Yesterday” were absolutely unique.
John Lennon’s ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘I Am the Walrus’ sends you on a harmonic journey you will never forget. ‘Penny Lane’, written by Paul, changes key 7 times. And the best… the way the Beatles composed their songs, the harmonic journey is so smooth, you don’t even notice.
The famous opening-chord of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ was a long time not analyzable, even by music theory experts. However, this chord draws you into the music straight away. Some harmonic journeys are so twisted that probably only Jazz harmony could compete. However still most songs (in difference to Jazz) made it into the top positions of the charts and hence are still very radio friendly.
Needless to say, covering Beatles Songs, is – if done well – almost a guarantee for any artist to get applause and recognition.
💡 Check out “Yesterday”, in our Beginner Course and enjoy the beauty of the melody and chords
2. Diversity in Instrumentation
Think of the song’s instrumental background. The Beatles were happily experimenting with tons of different instruments, from bass harmonica in ‘For the Benefit Of Mr Kite’ to sitar in ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. “Yellow Submarine” even offers a Brass Band in the middle of the song. Their creativity of using sound was simply inexhaustible.
Another example is the melody of the most covered song on earth. The Beatles chose to support the melody of “Yesterday” with a string quartet as opposed to bass, drums & guitar. This novel decision to use a string quartet made the song reminiscent of classical music, in which such progressions are more commonly found. Because of this, listeners may be more primed to accept harmonies that are foreign to pop, but familiar within a classical setting.
💡 Listen to any Beatles song, preferably from the era 1966-1969. Pick out the instruments they used in their songs. You will be surprised that some of them you will find challenging to name.
3. The melodies and arrangements
When a song comes on the radio and it’s by The Beatles, you can normally tell. But how is that the case when not all Beatles songs remotely sound the same? Find the answer when you listen to “Help” immediately after “Yesterday.”
Their tempos and arrangements couldn’t be any more different – “Yesterday” is somber while “Help” is upbeat; “Yesterday” features no rhythm instruments, while “Help” jumps in heavy with drums and guitars. This insight in particular is at the crux of what makes Beatles songs most suitable for covers. The strong melodies and chord progression used in their songs can be morphed into a completely different song by changing the supporting factors. What would “Tomorrow Never Knows” sound like as a sensual ballad? What would “Across The Universe” become if you were to speed up the tempo and back it with a full orchestra? The possibilities are endless but all start with a strong melodic and harmonic foundation unique to The Beatles.
💡 Learn the melody of a Beatles tune. When you play it by heart, try different tempos, or if you are more advanced, change the chords. I could well be, that you are the next one who creates a famous Beatles Cover.
4. The Beatles wrote universal words of encouragement & love
How many times has the stress of your daily existence forced you to find ways to calm down and “Let it Be”? Some of The Beatles’ most popular songs are meant to intimately advise their listeners and “Hey Jude” is one of the first of this variety that comes to mind.
“All You Need Is Love” provides some iconic food for thought, when ‘There’s Nothing You Can Do That Can’t Be Done’.
The famous last words of The Beatles urge us to practice Peace and Love in the song ‘The End’: “The Love You Take Is Equal To the Love You Make”.
The words full of emotional depth and wisdom make it easy to identify with and hence to want to sing and cover their songs.
From the sassy beat of “Revolution” to the disillusioning aura of “Strawberry Fields”, all 213 of The Beatles’ songs offer you endless opportunities of exploration as you work your way through our courses.
You can find all The Beatles lessons on Skoove together in one course now. Check it out!