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In the film "Yesterday", Jack Malik does a reasonable job of singing many Beatles songs, even altering his voice to match the original singer.

But surprisingly, none of the songs were written or originally sung by Ringo. His name is mentioned, but his music is completely ignored.

Is there a reason for that (e.g. he didn't give permission)?

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    Probably because none of the great Beatles songs were composed or sung by Ringo. Here is a list of them: rateyourmusic.com/list/stingbitten/… There are many songs that I don't know and movie viewers may not know (I am only a moderate Beatle fan)
    – Mattman944
    Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 13:07
  • @Mattman944 It's a bit confusing how they give the album much, much more prominence than the songs they're highlighting. At first I thought they were saying that the song "Help" was the second worst Ringo song. Commented Jan 3 at 1:51

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The selection was, according to the makers, driven by a desire to have the most recognisable tracks for the soundtrack. Boyle hasn't really spoken about why he excluded specific tracks, but we have confirmation that they had carte blanche from Apple Records to use the entire Beatles back catalogue, so we can surmise that the selection was editorial (by Boyle, Curtis and the film studio), rather than driven by any rights issues.

Jack mainly sings songs that can be sung by a single artist and that were big top 10 hits in the UK and US. Most of Ringo's non-drumming contribution to the Beatles was as an ensemble singer, so his potential contribution the Yesterday soundtrack would automatically be quite limited.

The biggest challenge for screenwriter Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral," “Notting Hill") and director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting,” “Slumdog Millionaire”) was choosing the songs. Boyle says they were fortunate that production company Working Title Films had a deal with Apple and Sony allowing up to 18 songs. It also allowed them to choose the songs, even swapping selections out during filming or editing without approval.

Curtis says they needed to stick with the biggest hits. (He did try to balance John Lennon's and Paul McCartney’s contributions.) “For the jokes to work it has to be songs people recognize,” he says. “If Jack sat down at the piano in that Ed Sheeran scene and plays “Not a Second Time,” most people won’t know it’s the Beatles.”

How Yesterday Was Able To Use So Much Of The Beatles' Music

They also wanted to have songs that Jack would be likely to know. That means avoiding some of the more abstract songs.

"I had an odd relationship with the Beatles’ songs whilst I was writing the film," explained screenwriter Richard Curtis in Yesterday's press notes. "I was half trying not to listen to them too much because I was half trying to think 'What would Jack remember?'"

Patel also commented on his character's journey with figuring out the Beatles' songs so he could play them himself. "You’ve got to pick the songs that are relevant to the story, so there’ll be some huge songs that people will wonder why they’re not in the movie," he said. "But Jack might not remember them; it’s only at the end of the movie that he remembers 'All You Need Is Love.' Throughout the film we’ve got this thread of him not being able to remember the lyrics to 'Eleanor Rigby.' That’s been amazing, trying to remember lyrics. When I’m trying to remember the songs myself, it’s been an interesting exercise in this weird situation. What would you do? Would you remember it all correctly?"

Why The ‘Yesterday’ Soundtrack May Be Missing Your Fave Beatles Song

Other songs didn't make the cut. George Harrison's contribution is also quite marginal.

Himesh Patel, who plays Jack, revealed to Digital Spy that “Something,” the George Harrison-penned standout from Abbey Road, is the only song Boyle filmed that isn’t the movie. “There’s a beautiful version of ‘Something,’ which I believe is going to be on the DVD extras. It’s a lovely version. I completely understand why it’s not in there. It’s just one of those things,” the EastEnders star said. “Decisions had to be made. But yeah, that’s the only one.”

There’s Only One Filmed Beatles Song That Got Cut From Danny Boyle’s ‘Yesterday’

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  • Surely "With a Little Help From My Friends" meets all the criteria. But saying they they had full control over everything answers my question. Commented Jan 2 at 14:33
  • @RayButterworth - Memorable, yes, but it's also an ensemble song. Jack can't sing it on his own since he needs, y'know, friends for the song to make sense.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 2 at 14:34
  • "“If Jack sat down at the piano in that Ed Sheeran scene and plays “Not a Second Time,” most people won’t know it’s the Beatles." No one would know it's the Beatles. That's the whole conceit of the movie. :p "Boyle hasn't really spoken about why he excluded specific tracks" There are 213 Beatles songs, so 18 is less than 10%. It's not really "excluding" songs so much as just not having room. Commented Jan 3 at 1:47
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    @Acccumulation - He means no-one in the audience in the cinema
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 3 at 6:26

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