Each song was nominated for at least one Grammy Award, and most of them won. You should include hit pop songs like this in your repertoire because they excite a crowd and are great for sing-alongs.
In my research I found that the “easy guitar song” lists online cover the same songs. Songs like “Wonderwall” and “Stand By Me” are commonly listed. In this list I wanted to highlight extremely popular pop songs that are not often mentioned as easy guitar songs. These songs average four to six chords and have easy-to-follow song structures. I’ve ordered the songs by difficulty, with the easiest to play listed first.
While learning each of these songs, I created a chord progression doc. Use this for quick reference when learning the songs and memorizing the chord progressions. Each song includes a link to the full lyrics and chords. I also included video lessons for some of the songs.
Finally, you won’t need a capo to play any of these songs!
The 10 songs are:
- Fallin` (Alicia Keys)
- Royals (Lorde)
- Firework (Katy Perry)
- Chandelier (Sia)
- Need You Now (Lady A)
- Locked Out Of Heaven (Bruno Mars)
- My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)
- Rolling In The Deep (Adele)
- Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
- Daughters (John Mayer)
Have fun playing these hits and impressing your audience along the way!
1. Fallin` (Alicia Keys)
All parts: Em, Bm7
The song consists of two chords. Experiment with different chord shapes and strumming patterns while grooving with this track. This song sounds great on either acoustic or electric guitar.
“Fallin`” was written and produced by Alicia Keys and released in 2001. It was her debut single from her debut album “Songs in A Minor”. The song was a breakout hit. In 2002 it won three out of four Grammy Awards, including Song Of The Year.
2. Royals (Lorde)
All parts: D, C, G
The song has a distinct rhythmic pattern you should learn first. Watch the video lesson for a breakdown of the rhythmic pattern. You can play the rhythm by tapping on the body of your guitar. You can also apply the rhythm to the chord progression, which is three chords. I prefer to play this song on acoustic guitar.
“Royals” by Lorde was released in 2013. It was her debut single from her debut album “Pure Heroine”. The song was written by Lorde, Ella Yelich-O’Connor and Joel Little. It was produced by Joel Little. The song stands out for it’s distinct rhythm and minimalist soundscape. In 2014 the song won two Grammys for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.
3. Firework (Katy Perry)
Verses, Choruses & Outro: Ab, Bbm, Fm, Db
Bridge: Fm, Absus4, Ab, Eb
The majority of the song is a four chord progression. Pay attention to the timing of the chords especially in the chorus. In the bridge I love adding in the Absus4 (aka “the Alex Lifeson chord”), it sounds perfect!
“Firework” by Katy Perry was released in 2010. It was the third single from her third studio album, “Teenage Dream”. It was co-written by Perry, Ester Dean, Stargate and Sandy Vee. It was produced by Stargate and Sandy Vee. The song was nominated in 2012 for the Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy.
4. Chandelier (Sia)
Verses: A#m, F#, G#, Fm
Pre-chorus: F#, A#m, G#, G#
Chorus: F#, G#, Fm, F#
The song has four chords in various permutations throughout the different sections. This song sounds great on acoustic or electric guitar. I found several “metal” covers of this song on YouTube, so it’s a lot of fun to play on an electric guitar with distortion.
“Chandelier” by Sia was released in 2014. It was the lead single from Sia’s sixth studio album, “1000 Forms of Fear”. The song was written by Sia and Jesse Shatkin. It was produced by Greg Kurstin and Jesse Shatkin. The song was nominated for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance Grammys in 2015.
5. Need You Now (Lady A)
Intro & Verses: A, C#m
Chorus: E, G#m, E, G#m, A
Bridge: C#m, B, E, A, B
Transition: A, C#m, B
Outro: E, G#m
The song has five chords with various permutations throughout the different sections. For the C#m chord in the intro and verses, I like to add the 9 (D#) for a nice effect. If playing the barre chord in fourth position, lift your middle finger on the second string to play the 9th (D#).
“Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum (now Lady A) was released in 2009. It was the lead single from the band’s second album, “Lady Antebellum”. The song was written by the band with Josh Kear. It was produced by Paul Worley. The song won four Grammy Awards in 2011, which included Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.
6. Locked out of Heaven (Bruno Mars)
Intro & Verses: C, Dm, C, Bb, F, Gm
Build: F, A
Chorus & Interlude: Bb, Gm, F, C
The song has six chords and can be played with various strumming patterns. Check out the lesson video for multiple examples. When playing out of the chorus into the verse, pay attention to the timing and rhythm of the C and Dm chords, they go by quick!
“Locked out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars was released in 2012 as the main single from his second album, “Unorthodox Jukebox”. The song was written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine. It was produced by the Smeezingtons, Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker and Emile Haynie. In 2014 it was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, including Song Of The Year.
7. My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)
Intro: C#m, B, A, B
Verse: E, B, A, E, B, E, B, A
Chorus: C#m, B, A, B, C#m, B, A, B (repeat chorus and end on E)
Bridge: C#m, B, A, B, C#m, B, A, Db, Eb,
Chorus (key change to Ab): Fm, Eb, Db, Eb (end on Ab)
The ultimate crowd pleasing song. It’s a lot of fun to play with a group of people singing along. Although it may seem like it has a lot of chords, it’s fairly straightforward. Also pay attention to the key change in the final chorus!
“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion was released in 1997 on her album “Let’s Talk About Love”. It became a worldwide hit from serving as the main soundtrack song on James Cameron’s film “Titanic”. The song was written by James Horner. It was produced by Walter Afanasieff, James Horner and Simon Franglen. In 1999 the song was awarded four Grammys, including Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year.
8. Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
Intro & Verse: Cm, Gm, Bb, Gm, Bb
Pre-chorus: Ab, Bb, Gm, Ab, Bb, Gm, G7
Chorus: Cm, Bb, Ab, Bb, Cm, Bb, Ab, Bb
Chorus Interlude: Ab, Bb, Cm, Bb, Ab, Bb
The chords in this song are straightforward, however pay attention to the timing of chord changes in the intro and verse. The changes occur on the upbeat of one which at first can feel unnatural to play. In the rest of the sections the chords fall on the downbeat so it’s smooth sailing!
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele was released in 2010 as the lead single on her second album “21”. It was written by Adele and Paul Epworth, who also produced the song. In 2012 the song won three Grammy Awards, including Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.
9. Thinking out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
Verses, Chorus & Solo: D, D/F#, G, A
Bridge: Em, Bm, A7, D, Em, A7, Em, A7, Bm, Em, A7
Transition & Outro: Bm, A, G, D/F#, Em, A7, D
Although the chords are straightforward, it’s extra embellishments and movement of the bass notes that make this song a bit trickier. For the bridge I’m hearing a Bm chord before the A7, but it can be omitted. Also in the transition, if the chords are moving too fast you can play only the bass notes instead of the full chords.
“Thinking out Loud” by Ed Sheeran was released in 2014 on his second album “x”. It was written by Ed Sheeran, Amy Wadge and Julian Williams. It was produced by Jake Gosling. The song was a major hit and became one of the first to be streamed over 500 million times on Spotify. In 2016 it won two Grammy Awards for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo performance.
10. Daughters (John Mayer)
Verse 1: Bm7, Em7, A7sus4, D
Chorus: Bm7, E7, A7sus4, D
Verse 2: Bm7, Em7, A7sus4, D, Em7, Fm7
Bridge: Am/C, Gm/Bb, D, A7, Bm7, Em7, D/F#, Gm7add9, A7
I hesitated on including this song as it isn’t the easiest to play for beginners, but it’s a great song to work up to! It has interesting chord voicings and a cool rhythm (counts of 3 or 6). John Mayer did go to Berklee after all! A tip, in the Em7 and E7 chords use your index finger to mute the A string.
Chord Voicings for Verse and Chorus
Chord voicings for Bridge
“Daughters” by John Mayer was released in 2003 on his second studio album “Heavier Things”. It was written by John Mayer and produced by Jack Joseph Puig. In 2005 the song won two Grammy Awards, Song Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.