When someone asks “what are the best pop piano songs to play on piano?” There are always a few iconic songs that may instantly spring to mind. The likes of Piano Man by Billy Joel, any number of Elton John songs, or more modern piano classics by the likes of Alicia Keys.
Undeniably, songs by the likes of Elton John and Billy Joel are some of the best pop songs to play on piano, but they may not be ideally suited to beginner-level technique.
Instead, beginners are more likely to be searching for easy pop songs on piano that can be played with a few simple chords, or melodies that aren’t too challenging, as we explore below.
The characteristics of piano pop songs
Of course, the songs that you love and consider good pop songs to play on piano will vary depending on your personal tastes. Different pianists love to play different songs and in different styles.
However, there are some shared characteristics we see in more basic, easy-to-play piano compositions, whatever your definition of the ‘best’ piano pop song is.
Characteristics of great piano pop songs often include:
- Strong and memorable melodies (bonus if there is a catchy vocal melody)
- An interesting and exciting piano riff
- Relatable lyrics, often where the song tells a story
- Many artists will start playing gently, and build their song into something epic with a big chorus
- Often written by a prolific pop music composer
How to identify easy pop songs on piano
You don’t always need to have advanced musical knowledge to seek out the easy piano pop songs. They can be identified without using sheet music, all you need to do is listen. You can often hear when a song only uses a few chords or notes. It’s not a pop song, but think of the way the Jaws theme uses those two simple, brooding notes to build tension.
Many popular pop songs actually are using synthesizers, which give the notes a lot of character even if the melodies are simple written. The best piano app for beginners can help players who have reached an intermediate level of skill to hear a song and quickly work out how to play it by ear.
A lot of pop music makes use of simple chord progressions and the same types of structure, making it inoffensive to the ear and “radio-friendly”. Sometimes it is the simplest songs that are the catchiest. Good news for those looking for simple songs to get them started.
Easy piano songs will contain some of these characteristics:
- Simple triad chords, often playable on one hand
- Short, simple, repeated piano riffs, or themes that repeat throughout the song
- A chord progression made up of mainly basic chords
- A simple time signature that does not change
- Easy-to-follow structure
5 best piano pop songs
Okay, so we know that for you, the best piano pop songs are the songs that you like the best, whether they have been written by John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, or anyone else.
Any song from history could be your favorite, but our list includes some extremely popular classics that most people will recognise. If you learn these songs you will be arming yourself with the knowledge to play the best pop songs for piano, so even if your favorite isn’t here, by learning some of these widely-regarded “best” piano pop songs, you will learn how to play the piano quicker, and build your knowledge.
Robbie Williams – She’s the One
This song can easily be played by a brand new pianist. It is slow and simple, with lots of space between the different phrases, making it one of the best types of songs for you to learn the basics, and not get confused or flustered.
Tips on playing the song
- Can be played in the key of C major
- Played with the time signature of 4/4
- The bass notes play only at the beginning of each measure
- There are just nine piano chords used in the whole song
Ed Sheeran – Perfect
Ed Sheeran’s song Perfect is one of the biggest hit songs of 2019, and even though it was written for guitar, it is also one of the best pop songs to learn on piano.
The melody will be played simply in the right hand, but because of his vocal register it will start much further down than many piano songs and melodies will. This is common for songs that are co-written by two different people, where the melody will be played lower than what is typical on piano. Try to find inspiration in the challenge, and write in the note names even though they are very far below the right hand treble clef.
Tips on playing the song:
- The song is transposed for piano in the key of C major
- It is written using the time signature of 12/8, but beginners may find it easier to count in sixes rather than 12s.
- The chords can be substituted for the bass line, by playing them on the left hand
- The primary musical note in the bass line is a dotted half note, which counts for three beats
- The majority of the melody can be played using just the white notes, good for beginners
Coldplay – The Scientist
Coldplay’s beautiful ballad written for piano is an iconic song of recent years. It is one of many piano pop songs that allows you to play piano keys and bouncing chords in the right hand, and a bass line on your left hand, set nicely against the chords.
This is one of the best pop piano melodies with some more unusual chords. It doesn’t follow the conventions of a lot of famous pop songs so closely, but it is still iconic.
Tips on playing the song:
- The right hand plays steady quarter note chords
- Timing is very important in songs that use syncopation strongly like this one, where the bass notes aren’t always on the beat. Use Skoove’s built in metronome in the piano teaching app to help with keeping time
- The song gives an introduction to some chord variations including “sus” chords.
Adele – Rollin’ in the Deep
Adele’s Rollin’ in the Deep is much more about the vocal performance than the piano performance, but it is still one of the best pop songs piano players can add to their repertoire. The piano can fill the gap of Adele’s iconic voice, by writing the piano sheet music in such a way to allow the melody of the vocals be played in the right hand of the piano.
Adele’s piano pop vocal contains a lot of little vocal techniques called melismas, or moving between piano notes between singing syllables. It is possible to use sixteenth notes to replicate how that sounds, but not essential for beginners, the song will still sound great even if you ignore these melismas (or if you sing them yourself!)
Tips on playing the song:
- You can play the vocal melody on the right hand along with chords on the left.
- The chords and perfect fifths are written in the left hand, be careful to watch the fingering and move between them using your pinky and thumb
- The time signature is written in 4/4
- The song is written in C minor
- This melody uses sixteenth notes, which are twice as fast as eighth notes
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
One of the most famous piano pop songs, and a brilliant party piece for pianists. Okay, it’s a challenge for a beginner, but it is possible, and wow will you impress your friends. Released in 1975, Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the best songs ever written.
Despite its length of six minutes, it sold millions of copies, and now has billions of views, streams and downloads, plus it is included in the Grammy Hall of Fame, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen certainly can be called one of the greatest piano pop songs and best piano songs of all time and one of the top piano pop songs.
You can learn the intro part to Bohemian Rhapsody on the Skoove App, with real-time feedback on your playing and an interactive setup showing finger positions as well as sheet music.
Tips on playing the song:
- It is a long song, make sure to break it into small pieces
- The time signature and key signature change over time in this song, make sure to learn it in small sections and then play them together. You can even learn one part per day to make it easier
- The melody and bassline are intricate, the fingering will be very important to learning how to play it correctly
- This will be a mammoth task for beginners, so be sure to allocate plenty of time and try not to get frustrated
Playing the best piano songs
There are plenty of good piano pop songs out there, so this is just a flavor of some ideal options. Making sure you’ve always got great songs to learn is simple with Skoove. It’s the best way to learn how to play new and old pop songs, and to make sure that every time you approach the instrument you’re playing everything correctly and building your knowledge.
Piano playing is a way to express yourself, to impress your friends, and to keep your brain sharp. It’s always a bonus if you know a few of the best pop songs to play at parties and get the singalong started.
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