Presented by United International Pictures
Making a feature film around the music of best band in the world can’t possibly be anything less than a monumentally challenging endeavour. But Danny Boyle did it. On 8 August, the esteemed British director’s latest film, Yesterday, will hit theatres here. Starring Himesh Patel of EastEnders fame, as well as Lily James, Kate McKinnon and Ed Sheeran, the film is equal parts comedy and love story and is based on the premise that, except for Patel, no one else in the world remembers that The Beatles existed at all.
In celebration of the beyond-influential and superlatively progressive music that bears The Beatles’ name, we’ve gathered some of Singaporean music’s most essential voices to find out what their memories of band’s charms are.
Revisit highlights from The Beatles' catalogue with Charlie Lim, Jasmine Sokko, Masia One, Tim Decotta, Falling Feathers and iNCH below.
My first memory of the Beatles was actually 'Yesterday', which my nanny used to sing to me when I was a kid. Around Grade 3, when I moved to Canada, we had to sing 'When I'm 64' in the choir – having moved from Singapore, I faced a lot of racism as the only Chinese kid in my school and people assuming I didn't speak English. I remember this song because I got a solo part and it made everyone know I spoke English and I was constantly wondering what it would be like when I'm 64 (from my nine-year-old-mind). As I became a teenager, I gravitated to very revolution-charged hip-hop, and loved the sentiments and music of John Lennon. 'Imagine', 'Woman', 'Let it Be', 'Jealous Guy' – this is songwriting.
I'd be afraid of calling myself a fan of any artist that has such an extensive body of work, and The Beatles' catalogue is immense. They've obviously set some defining parameters on what pop songwriting is today. Personally, I remember being drawn to the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album when I was in high school, because I had to study it for music class. It's an incredible body of work that went above and beyond the usual song format and it incorporated so many different production techniques that were ahead of its time to present this strange world that was satirical, dark, psychedelic and expansive at the same time.
Obviously, them doing something like this at the height of their career was also quite an interesting move; they knew people would pay attention regardless of how alienating it could potentially be. I'd draw a parallel between something like Frank Ocean's Blonde as a Sgt. Pepper's version of our time, perhaps.
My first introduction to the Beatles was through my parents with their earlier, super poppy and fun stuff, like Help!. The ones where they were the Jonas Brothers of their time. It was funny because you love the music: It's evergreen, like 'Yesterday', but it was only when I was in my youth, when I was like 19 or 20, that I discovered the rest of the classics such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, your White Album (The Beatles). And it's funny because I think the Beatles are timeless. They're so transformative and every turn and every record has been magical, to me.
When I got older, my favourite record became Rubber Soul. I know everyone loves the other records, which I think are phenomenal and heavily intellectual, but Rubber Soul, is still, to date, my favourite record because I feel that the songwriting and where they were at that point of their lives are things I can relate to really well. Also, my favourite Beatles song of all time is 'In My Life'. To me, it was the Beatles deconstructed. Like, if I remove every aspect of this intellectual side of them and reduce them to human beings, I feel like Rubber Soul is the record where it's just them as human beings, and I love that.
I encountered The Beatles when I was eight in my primary school library and the first song of theirs I listened to was 'Let It Be'. I read about John Lennon on a series of Famous People, Famous Lives. Then, I read more about how the band didn't know music theory – they simply made sense of the sounds. It hit me hard because I was falling short in terms of music theory among my schoolmates. I heard their music and realised, "Gosh! It's so simple and accessible!" I felt so connected – I realised that's how great music could be.
I vaguely remember one of the first few songs I've ever heard from The Beatles being "Let It Be"! I recall searching them up when I came across the iconic Abbey Road album art. I then discovered other Beatles favourites such as 'Yesterday', 'Blackbird' and 'Yellow Submarine'. The rich history behind the band was an inspiration to me. You know people say how music can cause revolutions? This band is probably one example of how a band revolutionised what is known as popular music back then.
"I remember listening to the Beatles from an early age as my mum was a crazy fan – she still is! We used to have a tape in the car of the Anthology album and thats where I memorised all the songs, from ‘Help’ to ‘Paperback Writer’, to ‘Fool’ on ‘The Hill’ to ‘Yesterday’. I always just loved how simple their songs were yet how compelling their songwriting was, to achieve that depth within that simplicity.
'Help' and 'Love Me Do' were some of the first songs that became earworms to me. Naturally, all the songs from Please Please Me struck me first as a 9-10 year old. As I got older, I dove into the Flower power stuff, no doubt. 'Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ take me places. ‘Something’ will definitely play at my wedding.
Watch the trailer for Yesterday below.