18 Famous Pop Songs You Can Play on the Piano
Looking to liven up your practice routine? You can't go wrong with a catchy pop song – and we've rounded up some of the best hits for you to learn on piano.
by Michael Lane
"Pop" music changes over time. Since it's defined by what's pop-ular, that makes sense. So what people thought of as pop back in the 70s, 80s or 90s is called - well - 70s, 80s or 90s music. So if you want to play some pop piano, it's a good idea to take a look back at the history of a genre to see how it's evolved.
We'll go through the pop songs throughout the eras, a sixty-year journey from the Beatles in the 1960s all the way to Billie Eilish at the end of 2019. Most of them are famous piano songs, and you can learn plenty of songs like these in the flowkey app, some with versions to suit any ability level.
The Beatles - Yesterday
Paul McCartney composed this now-legendary melody in a dream, then rushed to a piano to remember it. Bizarrely, before it became the melancholy break-up ballad we know, McCartney worked on it with substitute lyrics: "Scrambled eggs. Oh my baby how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs." Wow.
Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling in Love
The melody for this timeless classic is based on French love song "Plaisir d'amour". It has since become a staple for the first dance at weddings, so we have a "Wedding Version" in the app that merges it with Pachelbel's "Canon" and J.S. Bach's "Air".
David Bowie - Space Oddity
This was the first hit single from the iconic Mr Bowie. It follows the story of a fictional astronaut "Major Tom" as he's launched into space, but the simple interplay of melody with chords still sounds great if you play them without words, solo on the piano.
Queen - Don't Stop Me Now
Tonight, if you want to have yourself a real good time, and feel ali-i-i-ive, this is the piano pop song you need (or piano rock, if you prefer). Give it some Freddie energy and pay homage to one of the greatest performers of the last century.
ABBA - Dancing Queen
Dancing, like playing piano, is something you can enjoy whether you're "only seventeen" or seventy. And this song - possibly the most famous Swedish export - is about the simple joy of dancing, sprinkled with harmonious ABBA nostalgia.
Fleetwood Mac - Landslide
This is a song about facing a time of crisis, needing to make big changes, but with the hopeful side that Stevie Nicks put into all her songs. The original version is plucked on acoustic guitar, but the melancholy melody is beautiful over a piano accompaniment.
Alphaville - Forever Young
This power ballad combines the youthful wish to stay young forever with some Cold War political commentary. But if you strip away the words, squelchy synths and drum machines, you're still left with something wonderful.
The Police - Every Breath You Take
The broken chord accompaniment is iconic enough on its own, and combines with a simple melody to make something special. If you think the lyrics are creepy, they are. Sting himself has said that it's about the uncontrollable jealousy and obsession felt after love ends.
Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer
This is as 80s as you can get, all big hair and power. It's about two characters, Tommy and Gina, holding on to get through hard times together, and the "woah-oh" in the chorus is pretty incredible in a crowd. So sing along while you're playing at home, as long as you're friendly with the neighbours.
Robbie Williams - Angels
Another singalong piano power ballad, but this time it's a pure declaration of love. Sure, it's cheesy andit was the soundtrack to slow-dances at school discos for an entire generation, but it's still a classic.
Oasis - Wonderwall
This song arguably defines the Britpop movement of the 90s, and it's still belted out anytime a crowd just wants to sing something. Because everybody knows the words. The big question: what is a Wonderwall? Noel Gallagher has never answered this, but said "It's a song about an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself."
Elton John & George Michael - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Including a duet like this might be cheating, but we couldn't have this list without both of the two pop icons. It has everything of Elton John's blues-inflected pop piano style, and if you like, you can picture yourself as either Elton or George as you sing along.
Coldplay - Clocks
Coldplay gets picked-on a lot, but you can't deny that the simple broken-chord piano melody that runs through most of this song is the best kind of earworm. Add the dreamy and optimistic melodies on top, and you get something excellent.
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
This is a little more straight-up-pop, but opens with another earworm piano melody that beginner pop-piano players have been learning for the last 20 years. The song itself is an uplifting one, about lost love and the lengths we will go to get it back.
Beyoncé - Halo
Whether you think she's this generation's Queen of Pop, or just Queen Bey, Beyoncé has helped to define mainstream pop for a while now. In the 00s equivalent of the 80s ballads earlier, this is an epic song about the power of sublime love.
John Legend - All of Me
Pure love is a theme in pop music. Like Elvis was singing about 50 years before, this song is nothing but a beautiful declaration of love. The original version is the most stripped-down of the entire list, making it perfect to play solo on the piano.
Ed Sheeran - Perfect
Another song about wholesome love? Why not. The folky and waltz-like nature of this song has made it another favourite for couples to dance to at weddings. Whether you're singing it about someone, or the idea of someone to come, it's perfect (pun intended).
Billie Eilish - Everything I Wanted
This was released late in 2019, bringing us right up to the end of our 60 year journey through pop. It's a song about being there for somebody - in Eilish's case, her brother and co writer. The result is soothing and minimal, built around simple piano chords and soft melodies.
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