All The Pop Songs – Part Two

You’ve already encountered the G D Em C, or ‘I V Vim IV’ chord progression and the large number of songs you can play with these chords.

There are some other ‘standard’ chord progressions that also crop up in many tunes. When you are used to playing and hearing several of these stock progressions, you will eventually be able to tell just by listening to song whether it is using one. You will also be able to improvise freely over these types of progressions because when you get used to one, you can apply the same principles to all of them. The one we’re going to look at just now is sometimes called the 50’s chord progression because it was very common in doo-wop and fifties styles – although as you’ll see from the by the extensive list of songs that use it below, it has remained a staple of pop, ballads, rock and indie music.

The chords are

| G         | Em              | C                | D            ||



Here is a range of backing tracks in different keys and styles and speeds. Pick slower ones first if you are working on chord changes or trying out new arpeggios. Pick keys you know the chords for, and while you are playing, whichever key you use, you’re aiming to also get to know the personality of this particular chord progression.

Key of G – G Em C D



key of C – C Am F G

key of D – D Bm G A

key of F – F Dm Bb C

1. Play the chords as they are in G, first getting the chord changes working with a strum on beat one, and if that is fluent, with any strumming patterns you know. If you are a beginning guitarist, this is plenty.
2. Play the chords in the key of G with any picking patterns you know, e.g Beginning Guitarist lesson 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19.
3.Play the chords in the keys of C, D and F as below:
In the key of C, the chords would be C, Am, F, G.
In the key of D, the chords would be D, Bm, G, A.
In the key of F, the chords would be F, Dm, Bb, C
4. If you’re into understanding how music works, and have looked at the harmonised major scale, take out your list of chords and keys and work out what the chords would be in the keys of A and E.
5. Play the chords in different time signatures. If you have looked into triplets, try playing a triplet feel; an eighth note feel and a sixteenth note feel.
6. If you are developing lead skills, work out which scales out of those you know you could play over them, and try out as many scale approaches as you can – pentatonics, major scales, arpeggios or at least one of those.
7. Chord voicings. Take the progression in one key, maybe G, and find where you can move between chords only changing one or two notes for a very smooth sounding transition. Contrast that between using barre or open chords.

Some of the songs that use this sequence-thanks Wikipedia.

Angel Baby Rosie and the Originals 1958
Baby, I’m an Anarchist! Against Me! 2002
All I Have to Do Is Dream Everly Brothers 1960
“Baby Baby Baby” Aretha Franklin 1967
Beyond the Sea[1] Jack Lawrence and Charles Trenet 1946
Blue Moon The Marcels 1961
Bristol Stomp The Dovells 1961
Capital Radio The Clash 1977
Chain Gang[2] Sam Cooke 1960
“Cradle Rock The Heartbreakers (Ray Collins/ Frank Zappa) 1963
Crocodile Rock[3] Elton John 1972
“Da Doo”, “Dentist” Little Shop of Horrors (musical) Original Broadway Cast 1982
Donna[4] Ritchie Valens 1958
Don’t Dream It’s Over[5] Crowded House 1986
“Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” The Swingin’ Medallions 1962
Duke of Earl[6] Gene Chandler 1962
D’yer Mak’er Led Zeppelin 1973
Earth Angel[4][7] The Penguins 1954
Enola Gay Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 1980
Eternal Flame[8] The Bangles 1989
Every Breath You Take The Police 1983
Eyes on Me Faye Wong 1999
Flightless Bird, American Mouth Iron & Wine 2007
Friday[9] Rebecca Black 2011
Give a Little Love[10] Bay City Rollers 1975
Go Cry On Somebody Else’s Shoulder Mothers Of Invention 1966
Happiness Is a Warm Gun[6][11] The Beatles 1968
Heart and Soul[12] Larry Clinton feat. Bea Wain 1938
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea Neutral Milk Hotel 1998
In The Shape Of A Heart Jackson Browne 1986
“In the Still Of the Night The Five Satins
“I Wanna Be With You” The Raspberries 1974
Jesus of Suburbia[13][14] Green Day 2005
Just One Look” Doris Troy 1963
Lollipop[15] Ronald & Ruby 1958
Lonely This Christmas[16] Mud 1974
Lovable[17][18] Sam Cooke 1956
“Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” Air Supply 1982
“Mama I’m A Big Girl Now” Hairspray (musical) Original Broadway Cast 2002
Mandy Barry Manilow 1974
Oliver’s Army[19] Elvis Costello 1979
Pretty Little Angel Eyes Curtis Lee 1961
Stand by Me[20][21] Ben E. King 1961
Telephone Line Electric Light Orchestra 1976
“The Kid with the Replaceable Head” Richard Hell and the Voidoids 1978
The Man Comes Around Johnny Cash 2002
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out The Smiths 1992
This Magic Moment[22] The Drifters 1960
Those Magic Changes[23] Sha Na Na 1978
“(Tired Of) Toein’ The Line” Rocky Burnette 1980
Twistin’ The Night Away Sam Cooke
Mr. Bass Man Johnny Cymbal 1961
True Blue[24] Madonna 1986
We Go Together[25] John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John 1972
You Are Not Alone[26] Michael Jackson 1995
“I’m Not Edward Cullen” Hank Green 2009
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now Starship 1987
“No Hay Pedo” Banda Los Recoditos 2014
“Brave as a Noun” Andrew Jackson Jihad 2007
Joey Concrete Blonde 1990
Last Kiss[27] Wayne Cochran 1961
Dear Future Husband Meghan Trainor 2015
Dance with Me Tonight Olly Murs 2011
The Thin Ice Pink Floyd 1979
Marvin Gaye Charlie Puth 2015
Beautiful Girls Sean Kingston 2007
“Close Your Eyes” Meghan Trainor 2014
“I Love You Too Much” The Book of Life (soundtrack) 2014
“Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp Ba Bomp Bomp)?
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers 1956
For Your Precious Love[28] Jerry Butler 1958
Please Mr. Postman The Marvelettes 1961
“Oh True Love” Everly Brothers 1960
All I Want for Christmas Is You Mariah Carey 1994
Take It on the Run REO Speedwagon 1981
“Messin’ Around” Pitbull 2016