No matter if you want to spruce up your rock tunes or gain insight into how songwriters create memorable melodies, these major chord songs will have you up on your feet in no time!
To form a major chord, start from C and ascend by four semitone steps up to E; each semitone represents one major chord.
1. Earth Angel by The Penguins
This song is easy and fun to play; with only four chords it can be picked up quickly by anyone. Using minors gives a more somber but still upbeat sounding piece.
It was recorded by The Penguins, a doo-wop group consisting of lead singer Cleveland Duncan, second tenor Dexter Tisby, bassist Curtis Williams and baritone Bruce Tate – their name taken from the cartoon penguin logo found on Kool mentholated cigarettes.
2. Halloween by Bobby Boris Pickett
“Monster Mash”, first released as a novelty hit in 1962, remains an annual favorite and essential component of any Halloween playlist.
Pickett’s spot-on Boris Karloff impression and this song’s sound effects of creaking doors, chain rattles and bubbling cauldron are what set this tune apart as a Halloween classic.
This song’s basic G-C-D chord progression and verse-chorus structure makes it great for beginner guitarists, while sounding equally great acoustically.
3. Banana Boat Song by The Beatles
Everclear was an influential rock band from the ’90s that featured emotive lyrics and fiery guitar riffs that are easy to learn, particularly for beginners. Their song G-C-D chord progression makes learning this track seamless.
This classic wedding and party song can often be heard with G-C-D chord combinations and simple verse-chorus-verse structure, which make it beginner-friendly and great for acoustic guitar. Based on Jamaican work song, it was first recorded by Harry Belafonte in 1956.
4. Mary Had a Little Lamb by The Beatles
Major and minor chords have an enormous effect on the emotional tone of songs. Simply changing one note’s shape (such as shifting from flattened to unaltered for minor chords), can dramatically alter its emotional impact and alter your perspective entirely on any given track.
This Beatles rendition of a popular nursery rhyme is great for beginners as it only requires three G-C-D chords for its entirety – making it ideal for practicing on an acoustic guitar!
5. The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Kiedis and Flea have successfully maintained the unique sound of California-born rock group The Rascals through decades of reinventions, funk-rap breakdowns, and genre-blending; yet still managed to keep their band relevant through innovative sound fusion. One example can be found on Kerplunk and Dookie (1999).
This tune is a staple at any bowling alley and utilizes the easy chord progression G-D-C that you can apply to most songs. Add palm muting for an RHCP sound!
6. The Plain White T’s
After garnering some recognition with their emo-tinged pop punk music, The Plain White T’s became an internationally successful band with their 2006 release Every Second Counts album and hit single Hey There Delilah reaching number one on Billboard charts – catapulting them onto the scene.
The song features an easy chord progression and sweet lyrics about long-distance love that made it ideal for their brand of pop rock music. Additionally, this popular tune uses the I-V-vi-IV progression, which can often be found in western pop songs.
7. The Wrecking Crew by Albert Hammond
As formal studio orchestras became less widespread during the 1950’s, session musicians such as those belonging to The Wrecking Crew became in demand for recording soundtracks and commercial jingles.
It Never Rains in Southern California is an easy two chord song to learn and master. Once the strum is perfected it makes an excellent addition to any musician’s repertoire.
8. Love Story by Chad and Jeremy
Chad and Jeremy were folk-pop heroes during the British Invasion. Their 1967 album Of Cabbages and Kings offered an array of songs that blended humor, psychedelia and social commentary into an insightful collection of tunes.
After recording several more albums, Jeremy left to pursue acting and Chad continued writing and performing, though never reaching the same levels as his former partners. This song showcases how adding minor chords can alter a simple upbeat tune to give it a different atmosphere.
9. Good Riddance by Green Day
Starting off on guitar can be daunting, so playing something simple like Good Riddance can be an excellent way to ease yourself in. With only two chords required for its performance, this song makes an ideal starting point for beginner guitarists.
Any serious Green Day fan would likely name Good Riddance as their favorite track by Green Day; without it, the transition from Basket Case’s straight thrash to American Idiot’s intricate suites may never have occurred.