The Beatles: Breaking down the Rock Band songs


The Beatles: Breaking down the Rock Band songs

There’s this game coming out soon, you might have heard about it. It allows the players to pretend that they’re in the greatest band of all time. “The Beatles: Rock Band” is primed to be the alpha and omega of music games, the type of thing that will lead people who have never played a video game in their lives to get a game system in order to play it. The three trailers for the game have us literally salivating, and the opening cinematic might be the coolest thing we’ve ever seen. Ever.

Like the rest of western civilization, Bullz-Eye’s resident Beatles nut and Wii fanatic pored over the list of songs that will be included in the game portion of “The Beatles: Rock Band” – and curiosity is absolutely killing us about what that 45th song is – and assembled a list of the songs we are absolutely dying to play and why they rock, along with ten songs that we wish had made the cut. Between “Rock Band” and the reissue of the band’s entire catalog the same day, we’re thinking the recession might be over by the end of the month.

The Bullz-Eye Must List

Ten songs we cannot wait to play
“I Feel Fine”
The guitar riff is of their most memorable, the drum track is no walk in the park (start exercising that right wrist right now), and the three-part harmonies are absolutely perfect in their execution and economics. It is also, to our memory, one of the first instances of feedback landing in a pop record. George Harrison was metal, dude.

ticket_to_ride“Ticket to Ride”
Paul came up with the idea for Ringo’s syncopated drum line, while George’s guitar riff is the band’s salute to the Byrds. And don’t forget the speed-up after the “My baby don’t care” part.

“Drive My Car”
An ideal gateway song between early Beatles and the later, more involved Beatles. George’s solo is simple, the two-part vocal is a good warm-up for “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and whoever’s playing Ringo, hopefully, will get to rock that cowbell.

“Paperback Writer”
Quite possibly the most perfect “Rock Band” song ever. The guitar riff spawned a million imitators (“I’m a Believer,” we’re looking in your direction), Paul’s bass line is busy as a bee, Ringo gets a ton of quick in-and-out fills, and the combination of Paul’s relatively low vocal and George and John’s falsetto backing vocals is too good to resist.

Great bass line, great solo – so nice, they used it twice – and George gets a long-overdue lead vocal. A challenging track, but ripe for racking up bonus points for nailing the harmonies.

“Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows”
This is one of the better mash-ups from the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show “Love,” but if we’re being honest, we’d prefer to play “Tomorrow Never Knows” by itself, for a couple reasons. We much prefer John’s “Tomorrow” vocal to George’s rambling “Within/Without” vocal, and this way the guitarist could play all of the random tape loops until the backward solo comes along. Come on, you know you’d rather play the seagull-like “waaah waaah waaah” than a sitar.

A big honkin’ guitar line opens it up, followed by one of the greatest screams ever caught on tape. From there, Ringo’s kick drum gets crazy busy, and the rhythm section is one of the thickest in the band’s history. For game players, though, this is purely a John/George moment. But it’s a damn good moment.

“Helter Skelter”
It has one of the simplest and most instantly recognizable guitar lines in rock history (not to mention a pretty cool riff in the chorus), but the real reason we want to play “Helter Skelter” is because we cannot resist the temptation to completely shred our vocal chords singing the end of the first line. Countless metal bands have tried to out-rock this song. All have failed.


“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
Retrospectively declared to be the first grunge song ever recorded, this is more an endurance test than anything else. Whoever’s playing bass will have to keep his wits, though, because Paul gets very busy as the song is winding down. Have your singers go get a round of drinks for your troubles.

The Bullz-Eye “Rock Band” bonus pack

Harmonix plans on making more songs, and even entire albums, available for download to play after the game’s release. Here are the 10 songs we’d download first.

Gotta include one of the greatest singles of all time, right? Plus, those backing vocals of Paul are impossible to resist. John may not like the quick pace of their recording (he thought it was too fast), but we like it just fine.

“I’m Down”
This B-side is so badass that Aerosmith and the Beastie Boys both covered it. The song is Paul’s love letter to Little Richard, and it rocks like few other early period Beatles tunes. Of all the songs on this list, this is the one that we were positive would make the final cut.

Dizzie Miss Lizzie“Dizzy Miss Lizzie”
This one’s all about the singing, as it has one of those “Twist and Shout”-type, leave-nothing-in-the-bag vocals from John.

“You Won’t See Me”
It features a great vocal from Paul (racking up bonus points with the harmonies would be easy, too), but this is a Ringo song all the way. He adds some kind of fill at the end of every line, as if he’s in Saga or something.

This “Paperback Writer” B-side (best double-sided single ever, anyone?) is widely known as Ringo’s finest hour – and it is – but don’t discount the other Beatles’ contributions. Paul delivers one of his best bass lines, and John’s vocal has a Zen, slightly stoned cool to it. But who are we kidding – this one’s for the drummers.

“She Said She Said”
Speaking of Zen, slightly stoned cool, John wrote this song after dropping acid and listening to Peter Fonda talk about his near-fatal gunshot wound, telling George, “I know what it’s like to be dead.” George’s lyrical guitar line is practically a second vocalist, and Ringo does a ton of fun little fills. And the slightly offbeat “When I was a boy” bit would eat newbies alive.

Strawberry Fields Forver“Strawberry Fields Forever”
In an ideal world, we would mix this one ourselves, taking John’s vocal from the final version of the song and strapping it over the “Take 7 & Edit Piece” instrumental track that appears on Anthology 2. There are no horns or strings to clutter the proceedings, the song fades after the third chorus and then boom, Ringo gets a drum solo while the guitarists fetch themselves a drink. Bonus points if you match the pitch of John warbling, “Cranberry sauce.” And he does say “cranberry sauce,” by the way.

“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”
Because all video games should make their players utter a statement that batshit crazy in order to advance to the next level. The song’s chugging rhythm is pretty catchy, too.

“You Never Give Me Your Money”
Yes, it has a lengthy piano intro, but take a closer look: Paul lets loose with some great octave-jumping bass licks, and the descending guitar line at the end is one of the most imitated riffs in rock history. It’s like playing four songs at once, and would provide a welcome challenge to any gamer.

The End“The End”
It has Ringo’s only official drum solo – that “Strawberry Fields” bit wasn’t really meant to stand alone, but it sounds pretty good by itself, doesn’t it? – and since John, Paul and George all contributed to the guitar solo, it is the only Beatles song that is tailor-made to have the game players literally trade instruments back and forth midstream. Play the bass for two measures, then play guitar solos for two measures, while the other guitarist does the same thing in the reverse order. And just try not getting goose bumps while singing, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,” since this song literally signified the end of the band. Tito, get us some tissue.

Random Thoughts

If only it had guitar parts: “Lady Madonna”
Great tune, but when the driving instruments are piano and horns, its exclusion is a no-brainer. Still, it’s one of the best Beatles songs that didn’t make the cut, and the people at Harmonix must have hard feelings about its omission.

Song that by the grace of God didn’t make the cut: “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
John Lennon openly hated this song. We concur.

Ideal song for a ‘Beat the Devil’-type showdown: “Because”
So you’ve mastered every song at every instrument at every level. But can you sing? More importantly, can you and two of your friends sing? The middle harmony on this track is a slippery fellow too, so even if you can sing, finding that middle part is not easy. The song will be available when Abbey Road is made available in October, but if Harmonix wanted to be really mean, they’d switch it out with the a cappella version from Anthology 3, just to mess with people.

Related Content

Don’t miss our review of “The Beatles: Rock Band”, as well as David’s 2006 list of Beatles Deep Cuts.


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