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Jan 05

THE BEATLES – “A Hard Day’s Night”

Popular46 comments • 3,845 views

#174, 25th July 1964

The Beatles at a peak of high-energy Fabness, “A Hard Day’s Night” is crammed with hooks and ideas – they don’t all neccessarily fit, but the record’s so irrepressible it’s hard to care. The opening chord makes this feel like a challenge, a comeback, a statement – we’re the biggest band in the world, and we’re the best too, so clear out of the way. The final, sudden jangle into almost melancholy is harder to fathom – acknowledgement that they can’t keep this pace up forever? In its way it’s as striking as the first chord – so casually pretty, sounding like an afterthought but as lovely as most bands’ best work. In between it’s Ringo who thrills the most, pushing the pace of the song with furious bongo and (I think) cowbell work. Definitive pop.

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Comments

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  1. 1
    Joe Williams on 31 Aug 2005 #

    Just wanted to confirm that there is indeed a cowbell on this record. Never noticed before how much percussion there was on it, but now you mention it, there’s loads.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 9 Sep 2010 #

    Sally O’Rourke reaches this milestone of the British Invasion on her US equivalent of Popular, here: http://nohardchords.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/114-the-beatles-a-hard-days-night/

    This still sounds fresh and modern – far more interesting rhythmically, instrumentally and vocally than Kylie’s ‘Hand on your heart’ * which inexplicably earns a 7 compared to 8 for this.

    * and when visitors from the future wonder at this comparison, it’s because that’s where Popular has got to at the time of writing

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 9 Sep 2010 #

    ‘Hand on Your Heart’ might well be the better song of the two, though. And is much the more enjoyable of the two singles to dance to!

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 9 Sep 2010 #

    I don’t think HOYH is a better song – but I must admit I was surprised when making a mixtape for a party a few years back how few Beatles songs lent themselves to dancing.

  5. 5
    Tom on 9 Sep 2010 #

    I did a poll of “most danceable Beatles track” when the reissues came out and “I Saw Her Standing There” was the winner. First track first album – all downhill from there!!

    As the numbers suggest, “A Hard Day’s Night” is indeed better than “Hand On Your Heart”. AHDN should probably have got a 9, but we’ve had commenters complaining of Beatley favouritism before.

  6. 6
    flahr on 9 Sep 2010 #

    This was the number one in an edition of Pick of the Pops I heard a while back (or possibly number three or two), and what was surprising after sitting through the gentle tones of the rest of the chart was what a din this was by comparison. Especially Ringo banging away on any percussion he can get his hands on. Joyous stuff.

    (The reissues of course exactly a year old today!)

  7. 7
    rosie on 9 Sep 2010 #

    On the contrary, Tom, while I appreciate that you came from scepticism to a genuine admiration for the Fabs, from my perspective (as one who grew up with them) you appear to have been hard on them.

    Incidentally, you can leroc just fine to AHDN. Perhaps it comes down to differing understandings of ‘dancing’. I’d be at a loss to dance to Kylie, or Madonna, or the electronic noise combo of your choice, even before my failing knees and general unbendiness put paid to my dancing days.

  8. 8
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Sep 2010 #

    I’d like to see somebody grooving to “Revolution # 9″… It would take a lot of tepid supermarket cider pull that one off.

  9. 9
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISCS WATCH:

    James Clavell, Novelist (1981)

    Monty Don, Horticulturalist, Broadcaster(2006)

    Sir Stuart Rose, Businessman (2009)

    Lawrence Dallagio, Rugby player (2011).

  10. 10
    Nixon on 14 Nov 2011 #

    Why is there a horrible amateur choir cover of this appearing during every ad break on commercial radio? I think it’s a Halifax advert, so the choir may be bank staff (“we’re just like you!”) but it’s really poor, weedy and simpering – the opening chord and drums are a big loss, but I never realised how important it is that the singer sounds as though they have ACTUALLY been working like a dog, or the whole thing collapses.

  11. 11
    vinylscot on 14 Nov 2011 #

    Agree with Nixon – makes you hanker for the days when the Beatles wouldn’t allow any of their songs to be used in adverts.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 14 Nov 2011 #

    Tom, could you provide a link to your ‘most danceable Beatles track’ poll ? I’m intreeged. Sgt Pepper (side 2 version) springs to mind as a conventional dancer, but Ringo was a singular drummer wasn’t he?

  13. 13
    Paulito on 15 Nov 2011 #

    The Fabs have a fair number of danceable tunes, especially the funky R&B-styled ones like Drive My Car, Got To Get You Into My Life, Hey Bulldog, Birthday, …Me And My Monkey, Come Together etc. Some of their out-and-out rockers are also good for shaking a tail feather to.

  14. 14
    Erithian on 15 Nov 2011 #

    I always thought someone like the Specials could ska up “You Won’t See Me” nicely.

  15. 15
    Mark G on 15 Nov 2011 #

    The Beatles did ska twice, on the “Anthology” version of “You know my name”, and the break on “I call your name”

  16. 16
    punctum on 15 Nov 2011 #

    Three if you count “Ob-La-Di.”

  17. 17
    Mark G on 15 Nov 2011 #

    That was more a straight four-beat, but true, true….

  18. 19
    swanstep on 25 Aug 2013 #

    Paul Morley at his Morleyist comparing One Direction’s new film to Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night.

  19. 20
    Mark G on 26 Aug 2013 #

    .. Except he comes out in favour of the Beatles

  20. 21
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 26 Aug 2013 #

    Wrongly

  21. 22
    Mark G on 26 Aug 2013 #

    Dunno, I’ve not seen the 1D fillum

  22. 23
    swanstep on 27 Aug 2013 #

    It would, of course, be a complete miracle if This Is Us were anywhere near as good and fun as AHDN. I guess I wondered whether it was better than, say, Spice World or Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience or Justin Bieber: Never Say Never or Katy Perry: Part of Me? not just because those would be fairer comparisons but because if one is inclined to pop declinism (or some such thing) then ‘worse than AHDN’ is weak sauce (almost everything is). Couldn’t Morley have written the same despairing article fifteen years ago about Spice World?

  23. 24
    Mark G on 27 Aug 2013 #

    it would be a fairer comparison as they are both scripted fiction, not documentaries.

  24. 25
    tm on 28 Aug 2013 #

    Are 1D the purest hype ting to date? When this kind of media buzz/instant mega fame whirlwind kicks off, either the object of the hype reveals itself to have some sort of intriguing qualities to sustain the buzz or it fizzles out quick smart but with them I can’t see anything: they’re exciting because people find them exciting, a phenomenon because the media keep talking about what a phenomenon they are. A running joke throughout the x factor but Cowell said they were “the most exciting pop group in the country” enough that it came true.

    Obv, there’ve been nothing bands that have sold millions in the past (West life, Boyzone, Travis, Bread – cue snarky link to great underrated Bread B-side from HATERZ) but while they’ve been heavily marketed, I don’t remember media treating their success as any more exciting than the success of any other well-marketed product.

    1D always look like they’re having good clean fun, a rare commodity in pop these days: is it as simple as that?

  25. 26

    The purest hype ting to date (never yet challenged):

    By comparison, 1D are shaped through and of the vast surging passions of their thousands of fans (and seem cheerfully able to to work with and on this energy)

  26. 27
    tm on 29 Aug 2013 #

    But did SSS enjoy anything like the success of 1D?

  27. 28

    No: bcz they were (and remain) the “purest hype ting to date”*

    1D’s success very much rides on its fandom energising and entertaining and “hyping” itself (meaning that the hype is mixed of source and hence not “pure”)

  28. 29
    tm on 29 Aug 2013 #

    “Early names considered for the band included Sperm Festival and Nazi Occult Bureau” – SSS that is, not 1D

  29. 30
    Mark G on 29 Aug 2013 #

    yeah, those were the proposed tour names for 1D

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