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Twist and Shout

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

A Philadelphia R&B group called The Top Notes originally recorded this in 1961. It was a hit for The Isley Brothers in 1962, which is the version The Beatles emulated. Engineer Norman Smith explained how The Beatles version came about: "Someone suggested they do 'Twist and Shout' with John taking the lead vocal. But by this time all their throats were sore; it was 12 hours since we had started working. John's, in particular, was almost completely gone so we really had to get it right the first time. The Beatles on the studio floor and us in the control room. John sucked a couple more Zubes (a brand of throat lozenges), had a bit of a gargle with milk and away we went."
The Beatles used this to end many of their early live performances. It was always a huge hit when they played it in concert, and was chosen as their opening song at their Shea Stadium performance on August 15, 1965 - the first Rock concert held in a stadium.
John Lennon admitted that he screamed the lyrics. The Beatles had to sing loud when they did countless live shows in their early years.
You can hear McCartney yell "hey" over the very last chord of this song, possibly because it was such a challenge doing the vocals with Lennon suffering from a cold (he was plagued with them his entire life). A lot of people think that the song was recorded once - a one time shot. They actually did two takes, and kept the first one. John was totally knackered, sick as a dog and had stripped off his shirt to let himself sweat it out, but he pulled it off. The next day - February 12, 1963 - The Beatles played two shows, one at the Azena Ballroom in Yorkshire and another at the Astoria Ballroom in Lancashire.
In 1986, this charted again (at #23) when it was used in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
This was used in the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back To School.
This was the first hit song written by Bert Berns. He went on to write songs for The Drifters, Ben E. King, and Van Morrison. He died of a heart attack in 1967.
The Beatles
The Beatles Artistfacts
More The Beatles songs
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Comments (58):

On January 10th 1964 Vee-Jay Records of Chicago released the album 'Introducing The Beatles'...
And on that day the #1 album was "The Singing Nun" by the Singing Nun and ten days later on January 20th Capitol Records released 'Meet The Beatles'...
Four tracks from the album made Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; "Love Me Do" (#1 for 1 week), "Twist and Shout (#2 for 4 weeks), "P.S. I Love You" (#10 for 1 week), and "There's A Place" (#74 for 1 week); these four songs were on the Tollie Records label, which was a subsidiary of Vee-Jay Records...
R.I.P. John and George.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
A great cover. But it's obvious they did their best to imitate the earlier Isley Bothers version. Nothing wrong with that, but I hear so many comments about how they "made it their own". The Isley Brothers version is completely different than the original by the Top Notes.
- wayne, midvale, UT
Definitely one of my very favorite Beatles' songs. Love when it comes on the car stereo. Love the "aaahh" s that drive the song into a frenzy towards the end of the song. Also love the guitar. Great energy, as has been said, and no need to compare John to Paul as was also mentioned; they both rocked!
- Camille, Toronto, OH
It was this song sung by John that made me fall in love with The Beatles
- Ruby, Rotterdam, Netherlands
If I sang this song like John Lennon does I wouldn't be able to talk for days, it sounds like he's just shredding his vocal chords!
- Bill, Lodi, CA
HOLY CRAP!!! The first time I heard this I was watching one of my favorite movies! Ha! FERRIS BUELLER!!! Never knew it was a Beatle song til I was a teenager!
- Megan, Stevenson, AL
Hmmm. I think this is funny that Mae West recorded it. I kinda like the Isley Brothers version more, but the Beatles version is a great cover. Imo.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Makes me wonder what it would sound like if they'd recorded Please Please Me a different day...
- K, nowhere, ON
Great song! I love this song, though every time I hear it I think of my Science teacher dancing to it when it came on the radio during class, bad image!
- Breanna, Henderson, NV
john's best vocal performance in my opinion. kind of ironic that he was sick and his voice was strained when he recorded it. and i agree, sandra, their voices are too different to compare. john lacked the incredible range that paul has, (he hits some very impressive notes in "hey jude")but john's had a great rock feel to it, even in later songs("happiness is warm gun"). but to whoever said he would have done "oh darling" better than paul- i dont think anyone can beat that.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
Why would you want to compare/pit, John Lennon's voice against Paul McCartney's? They couldn't be more different. John's was more unique, early on, (texture-wise), and more straight forward, and sexy, but Paul's was more melodic, for sure. John paved the way for a new rock n' roll vocal. Paul was actually very old school rock n' roll. Does anyone remember a song called, "In Spite of All the Danger"? Man...Paul was not ready for falsetto then, but he persevered. That will always be Paul. Little Richard was a definite influence on him; which most people know. Paul's voice actually became more "textured" with the strain. Listen to him now.
- Sandra, Gardnerville, NV
I consider John Lennon's vocal on this record the first sexy rock n' roll performance ever! It makes me h*rny!
- Sandra, Gardnerville, NV
At their 1963 Royal Variety Show performance, John introduced this song by saying "Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? The rest of you can rattle your jewelry", which established their reputation as being "cheeky". What people didn't know is that John told the the other Beatles the night before that he was going to tell the royals in the audience to "rattle their f*ckin' jewlery". Paul, George and Ringo held their breath when John introduced this song, but were relieved when John used a cleaner version!
- Ken, Louisville, KY
i love this song me and my cousins scream it everytime we hear it....especially when they scream....
- patty, alamo, TX
Kevin of London, I agree completely about John losing his Rock and Roll voice (as in his R&R voice of the early Beatles). I don't recall hearing it on anything after Hey Bulldog in early 1968. If he sang forcefully on a song after that, it was in a different singing style. Did he lose it through overuse ?? too many drugs ?? or just wanted to go in a different direction to put some separation between his early Beatles style and his later Beatles and solo style ?? Don't know, but his early vocals are difficult for anyone to top.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
you can really hear him strain to sing in about the 1:01 when they come out of the long AH part. poor John.
- Samantha, Bowie, MD
I love this song. I really love it in Ferris Bueller's Day Off GREATEST SCENE.
- Samantha, Bowie, MD
Re the John singing Oh Darling bit. John's voice had gone by then - that's why he had adopted his now trademark reverbed "bathroom" voice. I think Paul is as every bit a good vocalist.
- kevin, london, England
I think this song is the best vocal performance by any of the Beatles especially considering how shot Lennon's voice was that day.
- Scott, Boston, MA
when the beatles held the top 5 slots of the billboard top 100 hundred in april of 1964, twist and shout was number two,can't buy me love #1,she loves you # 3,i wanna hold your hand #4 and please please me # 5.this is also the song they played when john said..."would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands?and the rest of you,if you'll just rattle your jewelry
- guillermo, miami, FL
Maybe not the beatles best, but definetly one of 'em and their most fun :D
- Josh, Toronto
I love this song, it's very high energy - it makes even me want to dance. One of my favorite scenes from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is when Ferris gets up on the float and lip syncs this song while hundreds of people sing along and dance.jgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjg
- Trent Simpson, Portland, TN
This probbaly the best Beatle song. It's fun and just amazing. I love to listen to it.
- krissy, Boston, MA
This song was recorded in early 1963 and it rocks hard for the time it was recorded and garage music was not even popular when this was recorded.
- anne, york , England
Another great Rock 'n' Roll song.
- Nathan, Bruges, Belgium
The sign of a great band is to take a cover and make it your own. This song epitomises the early Beatles
- Paul, Redditch, England
Lennon had a bad cold and a sore throat when he recorded this song. That's what gave the lead vocal the "strained" sound that it has.
- Tommy, Flanders, NJ
Paul is not a better singer than John, he just reaches the high notes easier cause that's the way his voice is. Paul has a nice soft voice, but John's voice is that Beatles-soundy that you need on that Rock n roll songs. John sounds great on that kind of songs.
- Bram, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
The Jamaicans Chaka Demus and Pliers did a partymonster cover that sends any dancefloor in hot motion. Reggae that rocks.

Long before conquering Hollywood, Oscar winning Danish film director Bille August did a charming movie called Twist and Shout about a bunch of working class kids in Copenhagen anno 1963 that buy Beatle boots, grease up their hair and start a band. The movie beats his later work any day of the week.

Jake, Brussels
- Jacob, Brussels, Belgium
Personally, I think Paul is a better singer than John, but John is great too! His voice ROCKS in this song!
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
It's a shame this didn't make it to number 1 in the US. It's a great recording and probably didn't make it to the top of the charts because it came out at the same time as too many Lennon/McCartney songs when the Beatles broke through in early 64. One of the best vocal performances ever.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
Has anyone else realised ringo starr looks alot like garry liniker?
- Ben, Portsmouth, England
Regarding John nailing it on the first take, no one was as surprised how good the take was as the Beatles and George Martin themselves. martin had them go ahead and try a second take. (What the heck, right?) And it wasn't as good. So they called it quits for the night and that was that.
- dirk, Nashville, TN
This song is the closest thing to sex on records. I disagree that "Light my Fire" was the closest.
- lee, clearwater, FL
The Beatles DID end their shows with Twist and Shout sometimes when it was for TV. They did this on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and on the Royal Variety Performance. Bet they did it in concert too, in Hamburg and LIverpool and so on. I'm Down is from 1965 - they finished touring in '66: that's two years. The band was playing for about 5 years before that... without I'm Down
- Calum, Edinburgh, Scotland
I love Ferris and this song. I am listening to it right now. It rocks. I don't care if he screams it, it still is good.
- Dawson, Draper, UT
David Lindley covered this song on his album El Rayo-X with a rockish-reggae feel.
- Ed, London, Canada
The Beatles did NOT end their shows with Twist and Shout. It was the show opener. The Beatles usually ended their shows with Long Tall Sally and I'm Down.
- Barry, New York, NC
I get a kick out of listening to John Lennon screaming this song :-)
- Alex, P.D., Malaysia
The Beatles made it A LOT better. Awsome song...
- Mauricio, Hanford, CA
One of the best vocal performances ever! John had a great Rock and Roll voice.
- Rhedyn Williams, bristol, England
I love this song, it's very high energy - it makes even me want to dance. One of my favorite scenes from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is when Ferris gets up on the float and lip syncs this song while hundreds of people sing along and dance. Classic!
- Barry, Bethlehem, PA
I like this version best. That cough at the end is probably John! Who can blame him after those vocals. I think Paul did an excellent job on Oh! Darling.
- maddie, Knoxville, TN
The cough is audible at the end of this song on everything in which it is on, not just please, please me
- Laura, Lakeville, MN
I think it would have been less special if John had sung Oh, Darling because he'd shown he could do it on a number of other, er, numbers. The fact that The Beatles had two great rock and roll voices gives a bit of variety.

Twist and Shout is one of those songs that you hear loud and clear just by reading certain lyrics: 'Well shake it, shake it, shake it, BABY now!'

See? Here's another - 'Well here it is Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun'
- Calum, Edinburgh, Scotland
I'm a teenager and I love the Beatles. This is one of my favorite songs.
- Kip, Sussex, WI
I notice no one has pointed out that The Beatles "Twist and Shout" is actually one of the many versions (~60) of a "La Bamba", a simple musical form mostly associated with Ritchie Valens upbeat 1959 version.
- Kurt, Tampa Bay Area, FL
This song is rockin and one of my favorites. Tis really cool. I can't add any hard hittin criticism besides that.
- John, Boston, MA
i know i've posted comments everywhere but i do want to talk to another teen who also likes the beatles. oh, and this song is better done by the beatles.
- Liliana, Huntley, IL
By the way I really am not from China I didn't look at what I put for country. I'm a Canadian.
- Kristine, Hamilton, China
I love this song I think The Beatles song it a lot better.
- Kristine, Hamilton, China
lennon was always a little embarrased to play the song when coloured artists were on the bill cos he thought they did the song so much better-strange but true
- shaun, perth, MO
This was covered by MAE WEST and is featured on the first "Golden Throats" compilation of horrible recordings of hits done by actors/celebrities. She must've been in her 60s at the time. The best way to describe her rendition is... it sounds like the "Chicken Lady" from "Kids in the Hall" before she has the orgasm. During the crescendo parts where there would normally be the harmonizing build-up,.. Ms. West did a series of orgasmic moans. A whole bottle of Viagra couldn't overcome a mood-killer like this.
- john, seattle, WA
At the very end of this song on the "Please Please Me" CD, you can clearly hear a cough, right before the music goes out.
- Brittanie, Liverpool, England
its the best cover song ever
- Marco, Los Angeles, CA
You can't hear this song and not want to dance, especially after seeing Ferris Bueller.
- Allison, Somewhere, NJ
I think paul did a good job of singing Oh, darling
- greg, little river, SC
Lennon had a great voice esp. when he put strain on it, like in this and "Dont Let Me Down," makes you wonder how much better "Oh,Darling" would've been if Lennon had sang it!
- Angus, El Centro, CA
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