Exploding out of the gate with Ringo's snare drum bashing, "Glass Onion" doesn't relent from its propulsive psych-rock attack until George Martin's disorienting strings take over at the end. In between, Lennon sounds positively gleeful as he ribs Beatles super fans desperate to uncover hidden meanings in the Fab Four's forays into psychedelia on their previous albums. But instead of sounding bitter, the punk sneer in his voice and the razor sharp guitars ensure "Glass Onion" is an exhilarating two-minute blast of pent-up satire.
For a writer as cynical and cagey as Lennon, the blunt emotional candor of "Julia" remains jaw-dropping even 50 years later. A lilting folk meditation on his unresolved feelings toward his mother, who had a complicated relationship with her son before dying in 1958, "Julia" remains a heartbreaking declaration of love to a mother he felt abandoned by as a child. The gentle finger-picking style of guitar playing emphasizes the solitary tone of the song; as sublime as this melody is, Lennon sounds irrevocably alone as he delivers it.
4. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Irritating to some (including Lennon), exhilarating to others, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is a lightning bolt of McCartney optimism distilled into a three-minute rush of handclaps, bongos, maracas, falsetto adlibs and a clanging piano that sounds straight out of an Old West saloon. While many British rockers embarrassed themselves with diet soda versions of reggae music in the '70s, McCartney smartly avoiding imitating the genre outright; instead, he drew on the buoyancy of ska for the elastic bass on "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and allowed the nascent genres to inform his existing palette. Toss in an accidental gender swap in the lyrics, some canned laughter and Macca's impassioned shouting on the final chorus, and you get one of the most deliriously fun numbers in the Beatles' catalog. While most rock songs are about the thrill of first love or the hedonistic release of partying, McCartney somehow makes domestic life sound like the greatest pleasure of all.
3. "Helter Skelter"