8 Most Common Chord Progressions to Jumpstart Your Song
Published: Mar 1, 2024
5 min read

8 Most Common Chord Progressions to Jumpstart Your Song

There's nothing quite as vital as mastering the art of chord progressions for an aspiring songwriter.

Certain chords possess the unique ability to evoke specific emotions and textures, setting the stage for a song's overall tone and atmosphere. They're the foundation for the melody and rhythm of a song, playing a pivotal role in the success of any musical piece.

In this interactive article, we're going to groove our way through the 8 most common chord progressions that have graced countless hits by some of the most iconic artists in history.

Part 1

High Energy Pop/Rock Anthems

Picture yourself driving down the open road with the windows down, the wind in your hair, and "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd blasting through the speakers. That irresistible urge to sing along and dance to the beat is all thanks to the I-IV-V progression.

This classic sequence of chords has been a staple in popular music for decades, spanning genres from rock to country and everything in between.

From Justin Bieber and The Kid Laroi’s "Stay" to Billie Eilish’s "Therefore I Am", you can't deny the power and impact of this simple yet effective chord sequence that creates a sense of movement and resolution, capturing the essence of what makes music so universally appealing.

The I-V-vi-IV chord progression is a popular sequence that has taken the music world by storm in recent years.

From pop to rock and electronic music, this progression has been used across various genres, creating hits like "Counting Stars" by OneRepublic and "Something Just Like This" by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay.

It's no wonder that this sequence has become a go-to for artists looking to create music that lifts the spirits and gets people moving.

If you're a fan of upbeat, feel-good music, then you've likely heard the I-vi-IV-V chord progression.

From Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect," this progression has been used in numerous hit songs across various genres. It's also a popular choice for dance tracks, as heard in Swedish House Mafia's "Don't You Worry Child" and Zedd and Alessia Cara's "Stay."

There's something undeniably special about the I-IV-vi-V progression that speaks to music lovers everywhere. Whether it's the way it captures a sense of joy and optimism, or its ability to create a satisfying resolution, this chord sequence has a unique and lasting appeal.

Part 2

Heartfelt Pop/Rock Ballads

One of the most iconic chord progressions in popular music is the I-vi-IV-V sequence, commonly known as the "50s progression." With its distinctive upbeat and nostalgic sound, it's easy to see why this chord sequence was a favorite of the doo-wop and rock and roll era of the 1950s.

But what's even more impressive is that the I-vi-IV-V progression remains popular to this day, with contemporary artists like Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, and Lewis Capaldi using it in their modern pop hits.

From the timeless classic "Stand by Me" to the modern hit "Someone You Loved," this chord progression has proven to be a staple in the music industry and a beloved favorite of music fans everywhere.

The I-iii-vi-IV sequence, also known as the "emotional progression," is a popular choice in pop-punk, emo, and rock music.

With its melancholic sound, it's no surprise that this progression has been used in some of the most iconic songs of the past few decades, like "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World, "My Own Worst Enemy" by Lit, and "I Miss You" by Blink-182, as well as modern pop hits like "Stay" by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko, and "Breathin" by Ariana Grande.

It's a testament to the enduring power of this emotional chord progression that has resonated with listeners across genres and generations.

The I-vi-IV-V chord progression is a popular sequence that can easily get stuck in your head and have you singing along to your favourite tunes.

From classic rock anthems like "Sweet Child O' Mine" to modern pop hits like "Love Story," this progression has a way of bringing people together through its catchy and uplifting sound.

With the likes of Whitney Houston and Red Hot Chili Peppers also incorporating it into their hits, it's clear that the I-vi-IV-V progression has staying power that transcends time and musical genres.

Part 3

Soulful Pop/R&B Ballads

The iii-vi-IV-V progression, also known as the "circle of fifths," is a versatile chord sequence that has been used in classical, jazz, and pop music.

This progression's smooth and sophisticated sound has appealed to classical music composers like Beethoven and Mozart in pieces such as "Moonlight Sonata" and "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik."

Jazz standards like "Stella by Starlight" and "There Will Never Be Another You" have also incorporated it, as have pop hits like "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars, "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys, and "How Deep Is Your Love" by The Bee Gees.

The I-vi-ii-V chord progression is another popular sequence that has been used in numerous hit songs across various genres. It creates a beautiful tension and release that leaves a lasting impression on listeners.

From Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" to John Legend's "All of Me," this progression is a go-to for balladeers looking to evoke strong emotions in their listeners.

So the next time you find yourself swaying along to a love song, listen closely for that magical I-vi-ii-V sound!

Songwriting can be an exciting journey full of creativity and self-expression, and chord progressions can be a great starting point. No matter your skill level, it's helpful to have a few favorite progressions in your back pocket.

And if you're new to playing chords, don't worry – our ChordChord Generator can assist you in creating beautiful progressions. Just choose a key and style, and let the tool do the work for you. Give it a try and unleash your creativity!

Previous Chapter

Free Tool for Generating Song Ideas

Next Chapter

How to Write Song Lyrics