Have you ever listened to a new pop song and wondered, “Can I play this on guitar?” We have all done it, and luckily, most pop songs are very easy to play on guitar! In fact, most pop songs use a similar chord structure ( I, V, vi, IV)!
In this article, I have put together a list of the 24 best easy pop songs to play on guitar. Each one of these songs will help improve your guitar playing while also giving you the satisfaction of learning a recognizable guitar riff!
1. Royals by Lorde
Royals is the debut hit from New Zealand pop icon Lorde. Her sound has evolved so much since this tongue-in-cheek anthem about youthful freedom was released in 2013, but that does not stop Lorde from pulling out this classic at every tour performance globally.
The actual recording of “Royals” features no guitar at all. In fact, the beginning verse has very little melodic content. However, if you follow the chords used in the arrangement under Lorde’s vocals, you will find that it is actually quite an easy pop song to play on guitar. The chords reveal themselves in the chorus and drop in and out periodically for the rest of the song.
2. Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran
There are very few modern pop stars that can pull off a stadium show with just a loop pedal, an acoustic guitar, and one voice. Ed Sheeran is one of those gifted few, and his dancehall-inspired “Shape of You” is one of his most streamed pop hits.
The song recording features a very catchy kalimba hook in the intro that carries the arrangement throughout. You can use this hook as a guide to figure out the rhythmic structures of the chord progressions for your right hand. This song is super easy, repetitive, and sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Extra points if you have a loop pedal and can loop the bass and chord tracks!
3. Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade
Sometimes one song is enough to give a band years of longevity and playing time. “Fall For You” from American pop-rockers Secondhand Serenade was the very first song that singer Jason Vesely wrote on the piano while learning how to play. Vesely wrote the entire song in just two hours and soon after sent the band to overnight success.
There are two ways to play “Fall For You” on the acoustic guitar. You can either strum along with the chord progression using open chords in your left hand. Alternatively, you can use the same chord shapes and fingerpick the piano part in the song with your right hand. This may take a bit more time and practice to master, but the result is definitely worth it!
4. I Took A Pill In Ibiza by Mike Posner
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” has a pretty uplifting chord progression, contrasted by some surprisingly heavy lyrical content. The song is an unashamedly honest and raw recount of Mike Posner’s personal demons that he dealt with while attending a performance by the late DJ Avicii. At the time, Posner had been struggling to maintain a healthy mental space and luckily managed to leverage his struggles into a pretty catchy pop song.
The opening riff of “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” uses hammer-on techniques to create the left-hand chord shapes. The composition is a straightforward pop song on guitar, mainly using simple chords, with Em7 and Cadd9 the most complicated ones.
5. Blinding Lights by The Weeknd
There is no denying that The Weeknd is one of this millennium’s greatest mainstream artists. The songwriter has created a series of albums and turned them into one long pop-synth cinematic universe for fans to enjoy. Several major pop hits were released in 2022, but few songs had as big of an impact as the 80s-inspired “Blinding Lights”.
This song feels like it’s meant to be played while driving down the highway at night. The arrangement follows a simple four-chord progression that you can play using open chord shapes in the left hand. The trick to perfecting this song is keeping up with the tempo and muting the chords as you play.
6. Apologize by Timbaland & One Republic
In the early 2000s, Timbaland was on a roll. During this period, he worked with and produced records for the likes of Nelly Furtado, Jay-Z, and Justin Timberlake. At the same time, One Republic had been enjoying mild radio success with a string of pop singles. One Republic reached out to Timberland for a collaboration, and the result was the timeless and dreamy ballad “Apologize”, which quickly became a break up anthem for broken hearts and sent the band to the top of the charts.
“Apologize” is an extremely easy pop song on guitar, mostly thanks to the song’s slow and steady pace. Start off by learning the four chord-structure by simply strumming the chords. Then move on to a fingerpicking style that replicates the piano riff in the song’s opening bars.
7. All Of Me by John Legend
John Legend is one of the uncrowned kings of modern R&B and soul music. His natural approach to songwriting has left him with a long list of smash hit albums and singles. One of his most popular chart toppers is the heartwarming pop song “All Of Me”, written for Legend’s then-girlfriend, Chrissy Teigen, who he went on to marry.
“All Of Me” is one of the first songs that I recommend to beginner guitarists when they are looking to learn some simple chord extensions. The verse uses add9 and major 7th chord shapes, both of which are easy to play in the open position. The chorus has a beautiful arpeggio pattern that you can play fingerstyle on the guitar. Don’t be intimidated by the number of chords in this song; simply take it one section at a time.
8. Shallow by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Lady Gaga and actor Bradley Cooper played star-crossed bandmates turned lovers in the Academy Award-nominated 2019 movie A Star Is Born. “Shallow” was one of Cooper’s first proper attempts at a professional music performance, and the song spent a decent amount of time at the top end of several global pop charts.
“Shallow” has quite a few chords, but you can easily break the song up into three separate progressions. It is much easier to learn each section independently before stringing them together. Once you have the progressions memorized, you can focus on the finer details, like the rhythmic phrasing of the intro and verse chords. Overall, “Shallow” is a super easy and enjoyable pop song on guitar.
9. Let It Be by The Beatles
You can teach a songwriter almost every crucial fundamental just by letting them learn the Beatles catalog. The band was the first-ever global pop icon and spent most of the 1960s dominating every radio station, sometimes with multiple songs on the top of the chart simultaneously. “Let it Be” is one of their later, more mature songs and is simply beautiful.
Composed and sung by Paul McCartney, “Let It Be” has many little jewels of wisdom squeezed into every line and melody. The primary recording uses an organ recording you can reference when learning the chord progression. Once you have learned the separate progressions, you can try and tackle the fun, simple guitar solo before the second chorus. Check out my article on the best beginner guitar solos for more easy solo recommendations.
10. You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
I don’t think James Blunt expected his debut single to give him a lifetime of mainstream success that even turned into viral stardom. The singer often jokingly pokes fun at his own music on social media, threatening the world that he has no remorse for infecting their ears with this somber earworm.
“You’re Beautiful” is a simple pop song that follows the story of Blunt missing a chance to speak with a woman he sees on the train. The song uses a straightforward four-chord progression in C Major.
11. Budapest by George Ezra
Another British pop songwriter that found success with his first single is George Ezra. However, there is a bit of irony in the title and meaning of his first song. Budapest was written in 2013, while Ezra was backpacking through Hungary. One particular night, he got very drunk, which ended up with him missing his train to the capital city the next day.
“Budapest” has a catchy strumming pattern in the opening bars, which can take a bit of practice to get tight with the right hand. There’s a secondary guitar hook that floats in and out of the arrangement, so for the best effect, grab a musician friend to learn the song with you!
12. Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish’s impact on modern pop is inescapable. One of the most unique parts of her story is that she wrote, produced, and recorded her first singles and album with her brother Finneas from their home. Everything you hear in her early work was done in a bedroom, which is pretty impressive considering she was just a teenager when she debuted. “Ocean Eyes” is one of her earliest releases.
Using the Youtube link or album recording can actually make learning “Ocean Eyes” trickier. There are no melodic instruments in the original recording other than synth bass. However, there are some acoustic performances of this song online where Finneas plays guitar, and it’s relatively easy to learn just by watching him play a few times!
13. Hey Ya by Outkast
For some reason, certain songwriters enjoy hiding dark lyrical content amongst happy, dancey compositions. One of the most ironic pop hits of the last few decades is “Hey Ya” by Outkast. In the song, Andre 3000 details a twisted story about a complex relationship between two fictional lovers.
“Hey Ya” uses a very easy four-chord progression, but it has a slightly deceptive rhythmic pattern that cuts the progression in half. This slight change in rhythm in this song is called a cadence. You can use regular strumming to play this song, and overall, it is a fun and easy pop song for beginner guitar players.
14. Rolling In The Deep by Adele
“Rolling In The Deep” is just one of several breakup anthems that UK pop starlet Adele has to her name. Never shy to bare her raw feelings, the song is about the missed potential that Adele saw with a past lover and the hurt she felt from being betrayed by them. There are two simple chord progressions used in the arrangement of this song, making it a super beginner-friendly pop song to learn.
One great thing about playing “Rolling In The Deep” is that it can work seamlessly with a band, as a duo, or as a solo performance. This is due mainly to the percussive rhythm that the acoustic guitar uses to play through the chord progressions. Try giving the pre-chorus chords more breathing room between strums to add some dynamic to your playing.
15. Havana by Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello is a fresh Hollywood face commonly referred to as a triple threat because she can act, dance and sing. Her music videos often involve a cinematic presentation with actors and scripted parts. One of the most well-known music videos is the popular song “Havana”.
“Havana” has a melodic structure that is very simple, and the song uses a single chord progression throughout the entire arrangement. There are two ways that you can play this song on guitar. You can either use a tight strumming pattern to make the song feel lively or fingerpick the chords in a rhumba pattern to give it a more laid-back exotic atmosphere.
16. Chandelier by Sia
One of the most intriguing things about Sia is how she chose to present her work during her breakout year. Sia has certain fears surrounding public performances and would allow a younger performer to execute her choreography and music video sequences while she sang from a safe location on site. The hit song “Chandelier” shows this story in a stunning dance performance in her music video.
“Chandelier” feels very different when you strip back all the layers and play it on acoustic guitar. But it can definitely still work in an acoustic setting. Three very similar chord progressions rotate throughout the arrangement. The best way to learn this easy pop song is to play it alongside the recording; this way, you can nail down the rhythms.
17. I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz is an American singer-songwriter known for his happy-go-lucky lyricism and smart jazz-pop songwriting. However, Mraz has also been known to put together some wonderful folkstyle pop songs that sound great on the acoustic guitar. The very slow and steady “I Won’t Give Up” is one of these songs.
“I Won’t Give Up” is best played in Drop-D tuning, achieved by tuning the low E string down a whole step (or two semitones). Playing this song in this tuning will give you a full and resonant drone over the low strings. The song uses a 6/8 time signature to give a slow, soothing sway.
18. Get Lucky by Daft Punk
If you’re an aspiring professional songwriter, I highly advise that you look up the name Nile Rogers. One of the founding members of the legendary disco group Chic, Rogers has collaborated with all of the biggest names in music, from Michael Jackson to Tame Impala. As one of the biggest hits of the 2010s, “Get Lucky” is a supergroup effort featuring icons Daft Punk, Nile Rogers, and singer-producer Pharrell Williams.
“Get Lucky” is a spectacular song to learn for anyone wanting to learn funk guitar. Funk guitar uses a slot of quick rhythmic playing in the right hand and is also generally made up of high chord inversions on the top 4 strings of a guitar, rarely using the bass strings. This is definitely not the easiest pop song to play on this list, but if you learn the basic chord shapes first, you should be able to play it in no time!
19. Stand By Me by Ben E King
“Stand By Me” is one of the most popular songs of the 20th century. The song is the biggest release from the late Ben E. King and has been covered relentlessly by several artists over the past few decades. This is one of the first pop songs a guitarist will learn, and it is included in most beginner guitar books.
The coolest part about learning how to play “Stand By Me” is learning how to play the bass line and the chords at the same time. This trick is done by using your thumb to play the bass parts on the two low strings (E and A) while picking the chord shapes out using your other fingers in your right hand. Try learning the bassline and chord progression separately before slowly blending them together.
20. Drive by Incubus
I don’t think it was ever the intention of Californian alt-rockers Incubus to find mainstream success. Most of their music catalog features much more progressive compositions that are not commonly played on commercial radio stations. However, “Drive” has an undeniably universal appeal and is the band’s best-selling song (by FAR) to date.
Learning to play Drive can be done in two ways. Many guitarists like to play the chord progression using open chord shapes for the verse and choruses. However, if you’re comfortable playing barre chords and 7th chords, you’ll be able to replicate the exact chord shapes that guitarist Mike Einziger used in the original recording. Both options sound great, but using the barre chords is best if you plan to sing while playing.
21. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac
“Dreams” is the perfect example of how internet Tik-Tok culture can breathe new life into classic songs. A simple Tik-Tok video released in 2019 saw a fresh resurgence in this timeless single’s popularity. Still, it sadly was not enough to convince the band to reunite for one last performance.
“Dreams” is exceptionally fun and easy to play on guitar and only uses a single three-chord progression in the entire arrangement. It’s also a great song for campfire or solo acoustic performances. Instead of using open chords to play this song, try descending down the fretboard using barre chords rooted on the low E string.
22. Kids by MGMT
American electro-indie act MGMT is known for blending infectious, catchy pop hooks with heavy synth and psychedelic soundscapes. Their music has a lot of production in the recordings, and it can be hard to imagine how some of their songs would sound simply played on guitar. I’ve seen a few cover artists perform stripped-down versions of “Kids”, and it translates incredibly.
The video below shows a great demonstration of an acoustic cover of “Kids”
When learning this song, I would recommend trying to figure out the short synth line that plays In the intro and chorus parts of this song. Once you’ve learned the chord arrangements, you can figure out how to play this synth line and chord shapes simultaneously (extra points to you if you can play these parts and sing simultaneously).
23. Believer by Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons have slowly but surely become one of the must-see live acts in the pop industry. The band is known for putting on world-class live performances filled with crowd-ready stadium anthems. The song “Believer” will give you a good idea of the high-energy Imagine Dragons brings to a live show, but the song also works very well in an acoustic version.
I have seen a few online radio performances where the band plays this song with two acoustic guitars and one vocalist. All the impact and loudness is pulled away, but the song still works very well. The acoustic guitar version is a super easy version of the pop song that features a simple but effective fingerpicking pattern used to back the vocals.
24. Despacito by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber
“Despacito” was undoubtedly the biggest song on the planet during most of 2019. The song helped bring Latino music and culture to the global scene and is one of the few music videos on Youtube with over 7 billion views. The original song is made for clubs and dance floors, but it works nicely using just a guitar.
“Despacito” is an easy pop song on guitar and comprises a simple four-chord progression in the key of B Minor. For beginner guitarists, B Minor is usually the first chord you try when learning barre chords. I would advise trying to master the rhythmic placement of the chord progression before attempting any of the fingerstyle parts in the song, especially if you are just getting started learning guitar.
25. Love On The Weekend – John Mayer
John Mayer is one of the most consistent songwriters of the last few decades and is often seen as a musician who kept the guitar popular in an age of overproduced pop music. “Love On The Weekend” is one of his more popular modern singles, and showcases all of Mayer’s smart, effortless creative capabilities. The song delicately details Mayer’s appreciation for the little time he gets to spend with his loved one.
The recording of “Love On The Weekend” is so sparkly you would think that it was quite musically complicated. However, this is one of John Mayer’s simplest songs and follows a very slow and steady three-chord progression in G Major throughout the entire arrangement. There is also a nice lead hook that comes in and out of the song and is equally simple to learn.
26. Photograph – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran started out as a humble busker with a loop pedal and a lot of ambition. He is one of the biggest-selling artists of the modern era and has sold out countless stadium shows worldwide, any of which feature the same setup he started with, a guitar and a loop pedal. “Photograph” is Sheerhan’s musical journal entry and comes with a very nostalgic music video with lots of footage of how the musician grew up.
You will need a capo at the second fret to play the guitar exactly the way Sheerhan does for his recordings and live performances. There are three sections of chord progressions in this song, but all of them use chords in the key of D Major or its relative B Minor. The strumming pattern is a slightly swung 8/th note pattern and should be easy for most guitarists to follow.
27. Ride – Twenty One Pilots
Twenty-One Pilots are known for their genre-bending musicality and high-energy live performances. They are a two-piece band from California and have a span of chart-topping hits, one of which is the reggae-rap song, “Ride”. While the song has quite an uplifting feel, the lyrics are about the singer’s struggles with mental health.
“Ride” uses very smart melodic writing to make a sad song sound happy. The key of the song is G Major, and the chord progression is very similar to a standard four-four arrangement. You can use this song to learn how to play reggae-style rhythms by only striking your chords on the off-count of each bar.
28. Hey Soul Sister – Train
Train is an American band that had a massive amount of success with their single, Drops Of Jupiter – and then the band kind of went quiet for a while. After about a decade of moderate success, they released “Hey Soul Sister” which skyrocketed them back to the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 shortly after its release.
The original recording of this song uses a ukulele for the intro, and I suggest trying this out if you have one within reach. If not, you can place a capo on the 4th fret of a regular acoustic guitar for a similar effect. The entire song uses a very straightforward four-chord progression with a shuffle rhythm in the strumming hand.
29. I Have A Dream – ABBA
Abba is one of the biggest pop acts to come out of Sweden and has been a firm fixture on dancefloors worldwide up until today. The four-piece band recently saw a resurgence by creating a live show with projected avatars playing in place of the live performers. One of Abba’s more slow-paced songs is “I Have A Dream”, which shows the band’s songwriting abilities beyond their usual disco hits.
The original recording of “I Have A Dream” has the guitar tuned up half a step, so you’ll need a capo at the first fret to match this key. The rhythms in this song are composed using marching band-style rudiments, which creates some interesting patterns for the guitar. You can use the lyrical phrasing to help give you cues for when to change chords throughout the composition.
30. One Call Away – Charlie Puth
Some seasoned musicians tend to overlook pop songwriter Charlie Puth, but you might be surprised to find out that he is a very accomplished Berklee graduate. It was at Berklee that Puth first fell in love with pop, and he is obsessed with subtle ways to integrate his jazz sensibilities into catchy hooks and melodies.
“One Call Away” is a great showcase of Puth’s strong musical knowledge base. You could sing the entire song using just four chords, but he has reworked the chord structures to give the song more substance. There are three separate but simple chord progressions to work through in this song, all in the key of D Flat. You will also need a capo on the first fret to play the song like the original recording.
31. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars has been a professional performer since he was 4 years old when he would do his first performances while traveling with his father’s band. Mars has had a massively successful solo career and is also one-half of the soul supergroup Silk Sonic with acclaimed rapper Anderson Paak. “Just The Way You Are” is one of Mars’ first big hit singles, and is a fictional love letter that has been used for romantic gestures worldwide.
I like to play this song with a slightly different approach when playing the guitar. The original recording uses a fast but light strumming pattern to cover the three chords used in the arrangement. However you can add some easy dynamic but fingerpicking the chord progression instead of strumming, and it will give the song an interesting new feel.
32. Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber is another pop star who has seen success from a very young age. His first hit single came when Bieber was 12 years old, and he has grown up in the eyes and ears of many music lovers worldwide. “Love Yourself” is a soft but cheeky farewell letter to a former lover, and in the song, Bieber reveals a few harsh but honest feelings and bids his lover a bittersweet goodbye.
There are two ways to learn to play “Love Yourself”. I suggest starting with the chord progressions of each section using regular open chords. Once you have this part dialed, try to learn the original version with the capo at the 4th fret, and with all the subtle hammer-ons used in the chord changes.
33. I Love It – Icona Pop ft Charlie XCX
Charlie XCX burst onto the modern pop scene with a flurry of exciting synth-driven pop hits about growing up. “ I Love It” sounds like the soundtrack to a wild house party, and the lyrics tell the story of a scorned lover performing some ridiculous acts of revenge on her ex. In true Hollywood fashion, the music video includes some colorful and fun acts of destruction.
Even though you might not hear much guitar in this song, it is easily transposed for stripped-down rework using strumming or fingerpicking. Place a capo at the first fret if you want to play the same key as the original. All the chord shapes in this four-chord progression are open chords, except for Bb, which can be played using a simple power chord shape.
34. You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
Speaking of streams, Taylor Swift is also one of the most-streamed artists in the modern century and has used the later part of her career to rework some of the songs that first made her famous. “You Belong With Me” was one of her earliest releases and tells a heartwarming tale of her affection for a man who is in a toxic relationship with another woman.
“You Belong With Me” is played using a capo on the 4th fret, and this is what makes the guitar in the original recording sound so bright. The song’s arrangement consists of two four-chord progressions in the key of F#. You can use open chord shapes on the 4th fret to match the chord progressions in the arrangement, and each chord change has a very manageable pace.
35. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
This song is one that I hear a lot of cover bands and singers perform, and I think that’s always a sign of a well-written song. “Fast Car” is the song that put Tracy Chapman on the map and afforded her many years of success. As somewhat of a prediction, the song is about the journey of giving up your current life and leaving for something better.
The greatest part of taking on “Fast Car” is learning how to play the chord phrasing that is used in the intro and verses. These chord shapes use hammer-ons in certain parts of the progression and give the solo guitar a percussive backbone to sing over. The chorus has a slightly more complex chord progression, and you switch to strumming here to lift the song’s dynamic.
36. With Or Without You – U2
U2 is the largest musical act to come out of Ireland and is well known for its political activism and incredibly immersive live stadium shows. “With Or Without You” is often seen as the song that put the band on the global map, and is also one of the first songs that singer Bono would write to his partner at the time. The song is still one of their best-selling releases to date.
“With Or Without You” uses one of the most popular chord progressions in pop music: the i-V-Vi-iV. There are an abundance of songs that you can sing over this progression even if that’s not their original chord structure. The tempo of the song is very easy to match, and you can use the bass in the track as a reference for the correct timing of each chord change.
37. Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
Many people might not realize that singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake has been a part of Disney’s world since a very young age. As a child, Timberlake would be part of a crew of youth performers known as The Mickey Mouse Club which included future stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Fast forward to more recent times, where Timberlake still works with the Disney franchise to produce songs like the catchy “Can’t Stop The Feeling” – which was used for the Trolls movie soundtrack.
There are three sets of chord progressions to work through in the arrangement of “I Can’t Stop The Feeling”. While the amount of chords may seem daunting at first, playing through the song’s progressions has a very natural feel. This feel makes it easier to work through each section, and I recommend adapting the chords to a fingerpicking pattern for a simpler approach.
38. Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles
Harry Styles is the current darling-child of British pop music and has a firm grasp on teenage listeners all over the world. One of his most successful songs is the tongue-in-cheek “Watermelon Sugar”. The lyrics feature lots of innuendos and subtle references to intimacy, and the song comes complete with a very suggestive music video.
Learning “Watermelon Sugar” is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to Major 7 chords, which are often used to give a song more harmonic density. The two Major 7 chords in this composition can be played in open or barre shapes, and the strumming pattern is delightfully easy to pick up.
39. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen is another performer who found success with Disney from a young age, through both acting and singing. Her debut single, “Call Me Maybe” was the song for every dreamy teenage summer romance and spent over a year on the Billboard Hot 100 upon release.
“Call Me Maybe” uses a very straightforward four-to-the-floor groove and consists of four chords in G Major. The timing and chord structures are super easy to follow and are great for beginner guitarists to learn. If you want to give yourself a challenge, try matching your chord changes with the string section used in the recording.
40. Nothin On You – B.O.B ft Bruno Mars
B.O.B. was a rapper, singer, and producer who had a brief run of smash hits during the early to mid-2000s era. All of his biggest songs were collaborative efforts, and one of his most popular singles is a duet with songwriter Bruno Mars. The mid-tempo ballad is a classic romantic love letter between partners, as both B.O.B. and Mars express how committed they are to their relationships.
You will need a capo on the third fret of your guitar to play this song exactly like the original recording. The composition will also introduce newer plays to an add9 chord shape, which is still played with an open chord shape if you use the capo. The strumming pattern is very easy to keep up on the recorded track, and I suggest adapting it to a fingerpicking style for an extra challenge.
41. Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden
Savage Garden was a two-piece band from Australia that saw a lot of success during the soft-rock era of the late 90s and early 2000s. “Truly Madly Deeply” is the band’s biggest single by far and has been featured on several movie and TV-show soundtracks. The song is a classic romantic profession of love and has some truly wonderful, heartfelt lyrics.
“Truly Madly Deeply” is ideal for practicing light strumming patterns, and has a relatively simple fingerpicking riff used for the intros and verses of its arrangement. All the chords are in the key of C Major, and the progression only alters slightly at the pre-chorus. The bridge and verses use the same chords but are played with subtle differences in their timing and dynamic.
42. Lemon Tree – Fool’s Garden
Fool’s Garden was not expecting any sort of major success with their humble melancholy track “Lemon Tree. The song shows some strong Beatles influences and comes with a superb DIY music video that helps add to its timelessness. The song is about trying to break out of a negative mindset.
I like to use the intro and verses of Fool’s Gold to develop my fingerpicking. Each chord in the verse is plucked using a very straight, staccato pattern to give the song its signature hop. The chorus opens up to a Major progression in C, and resolves using a stunning F#dim7 chord in passing.
43. Firework – Katy Perry
“Firework” is Katy Perry’s most successful single release and has been featured on dozens of TV shows, commercials, and movies. The song is written as an uplifting dance anthem and carries themes of self-love and motivation throughout. The music video features a very over-the-top rooftop scene with a massive fireworks display for the backdrop.
You will need a capo at the 1st fret to match the key of Perry’s original recorded version of this song. The intro has a piano pattern that can easily be adapted to a fingerstyle pattern on electric or acoustic guitar. The song uses a single four-chord progression throughout the arrangement, but each section is played with slightly different volumes and intensities.
44. Butter – BTS
BTS is one of a series of acts to capitalize on the global K-Pop craze, and many listeners consider them the modern flag bearers for the genre. “Butter” is one of their more recent dancefloor-ready tracks that is soaked in intelligent pop songwriting sensibilities and questionable food-related innuendos for the lyrics.
“Butter” is fairly easy for most experienced guitar players to learn without struggle. Each section of the arrangement only uses three of four chords, all in the key of G Major. The greater challenge in learning this song is perfecting the timing of each chord change along with the tight strumming patterns. There are also a few simple melodic hooks throughout the arrangement that I suggest trying out on your guitar for fun.
45. Faith – George Michael
George Michael began his career as one-half of the British pop duo Wham! After some relative success with his first band, Michael jumped at the chance to release a series of solo albums and singles. One of the first and most successful singles in this catalog is the cheeky and infectious “Faith”, where Michaels requests some space from his lover to spend a night out dancing.
“Faith” has a very tight and rhythmic strumming pattern that forms the backbone for the intro and groove of its arrangement. This pattern is achieved with some muting movements in both playing hands while changing chords, and it might take some time for beginner players to learn to play this motion comfortably
46. When You Say Nothing At All – Ronan Keating
After a handful of chart-topping singles with boy band Boyzone, Ronan Keating took the natural next step by branching out into a solo career. His first few releases showed amazing promise, and many people will know his sweet acoustic pop hit “When You Say Nothing At All”.
Even as a simple pop song, “When You Say Nothing At All” comes with a deceptively tricky fingerpicking pattern in its arrangement. The pattern is slightly above beginner level, and some might struggle to keep their fingerpicking consistent throughout the chord changes. I recommend slowing this song down a few BPM at first and speeding up once you feel comfortable playing through the entire arrangement.
47. California Dreamin – The Mamas and The Papas
Pop music has gone through numerous evolutions, and sounded a lot different during the 1960’s and 70’s eras. The Mamas And The Papas weren’t one of the biggest bands during this time, but they did manage to find a number 1 spot at the top of the charts with the song “California Dreamin’”. The song tells a rather poetic tale of a psychedelic experience on a sunny day in Los Angeles.
If you’re able to sing while playing, you might find this song quite satisfying to play. The primary melody used in the vocals can be heard with each passing chord. Playing this song on an electric guitar just feels right, and you’ll need capo at the 4th fret to use the open chord shapes on the original. There are also a few advanced chords to learn in this song, like the E7sus4 in each verse.
48. Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira
Popstar Shakira is well-known for staying true to her Latino roots, and she uses these influences frequently in her music. “Hips Don’t Lie” is her collaboration with rapper-singer Wyclef Jean and is a playful song about expressing yourself through the power of dance and body movement.
“Hips Don’t Lie” can be played in two ways on the guitar, but I recommend using an acoustic for both. There is a steady rhythmic fingerpicking pattern in the intro and verses of the song, but you can use this for all the chord progressions in the song to keep the groove consistent. Alternatively, drop down into slow and sustained chords in the pre-choruses before going back to the fingerpicking patterns in the chorus and play the latter with some added velocity.
49. Eastside – Benny Blanco
Benny Blanco is a highly accomplished producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in pop music. His collaboration “Eastside”- with singers Halsey and Khalid – features a very heartwarming music video that details some of the first loves that Halsey and Blanco remember from their innocent school years.
“Eastside” has a catchy keyboard hook to open up the song, and this lays the foundation for the rhythmic phrasing used for your guitar playing. The entire song is constructed using one four-chord progression, and most of the challenge lies in trying to perfect the timing of each chord change.
Looking to kick things up a notch? Check out the best electric guitar songs for beginners!