Theme Ride Thursday: Beatles Covers Add Depth and Variety to Your Playlists

Global Beatles Day, established in 2009, is a celebration of not only the Beatles’ timeless music but also their enduring message of peace and love. The Beatles’ songs are so iconic that they naturally attract musicians to reinterpret and cover them. These remarkable covers are a testament to the depth and brilliance of their musical legacy.

Covering a Beatles song and doing it justice is no easy feat, yet there are unforgettable renditions of their classic melodies. Every one of the 184 songs crafted and recorded by the quartet during their eight-year tenure has been covered. Many of these compositions have been reimagined countless times, with some like “Yesterday” being interpreted thousands of times. This distinction is unparalleled among artists outside the classical or musical theatre realms. The realm of Beatles covers is expansive, spanning genres such as R&B, country, experimental rock, post-punk, funk, and beyond, showcasing the enduring influence and universal appeal of their music.

Last year, we brought you our favorite Beatles songs. This year, we’re excited to share our favorite Beatles covers to use in your cycling classes. Cover songs not only honor the original artist but also bring more depth and variety to your playlist. Modern renditions, such as Beyoncé’s “Blackbiird” or Brandi Carlile’s “All You Need Is Love,” help you reach a broader audience. We’ve highlighted a few of our top picks below. ICA members can find a Spotify bucket playlist with 125 cover songs at the end of this post.

Blackbiird, Beyoncé, 2:11, 93 bpm
Paul McCartney wrote “Blackbird” in response to the civil rights movement in America in 1968, associating it with Black women (hence the play on the British slang “bird” for girl). Beyoncé breathes new meaning and life into the song, continuing the fight for equality. One unique aspect of this cover is that Beyoncé uses Paul McCartney’s original guitar and foot tapping. Its short length makes it a perfect recovery track or second cool-down song. 

Come Together, Michael Jackson, 4:02, 90 bpm
Some believe Michael Jackson’s cover of “Come Together” surpasses the original. Jackson described his version as “more raw and funky.” Although Jackson bought the rights to the Beatles’ catalog in 1985, this is the only Beatles song he recorded. It’s ideal for a warm-up or a working fast flat.

With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker, 5:12, 145 bpm
Joe Cocker’s rendition of “With A Little Help From My Friends” is perhaps more famous than the original, partly due to its use in the TV show The Wonder Years. This song works well as a recovery or cool-down track.

Hey Jude, Wilson Pickett,  4:02, 82 bpm
Wilson Pickett’s rich, rough voice delivers a powerful version of “Hey Jude.” The song’s energy builds progressively, making it perfect for a ramped-up fast climb.

A Day in the Life, Phish, 76 bpm, 4:59
Rolling Stone magazine ranks “A Day in the Life” as the number one Beatles song. Phish’s cover provides two opportunities for intense pushes at 1:50–2:13 (23s) and 3:45–4:24 (39s).

Let us know in the comments if we’re missing your favorite Beatles cover in our Spotify bucket playlist below (125 songs)!

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