Learning to play the piano is a rich and rewarding experience. Some people choose the classical route, learning Beethoven or Chopin. Others opt for famous piano songs from the realm of pop and rock.
Whichever path you choose, learning the piano can improve the capabilities of your brain. You can enjoy better problem solving and stronger communication skills.
Piano playing can even help hone academic performance.
This might not matter to you if you just want a fun hobby or to impress your friends. If that’s the case, read on to find out which ten popular piano songs you should learn to play.
1) ‘Happy Birthday’
This is the king of easy popular piano songs. The tune comes from a song named ‘Good morning to all’, written by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill. They used it to greet children in a Kentucky kindergarten.
The familiar lyrics were only added in 1912. Its most famous performance was that of Marilyn Monroe singing it for President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
Until 2015, Warner/Chappell apparently made $2m per year in royalties, earning money every time the song appeared in a film or public performance.
2) ‘Jingle Bells’
It isn’t Christmas until someone plays Jingle Bells. Surprisingly, the song is actually about winter, not Christmas, making it a fine choice for those who get tired of the festival.
James Lord Pierpont wrote the song in 1857. It was originally called ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. It wasn’t a hit when it was first performed but later grew in popularity.
Jingle Bells was also the first song broadcast from space. The astronauts on board the Gemini 6 played it at Christmas in 1965.
3) ‘Someone Like You’
Adele’s Someone Like You comes from her second album, 21. It has sold over half a million copies, making it the most successful single in the UK and Ireland since 2010.
Exploring a broken relationship, the song went triple platinum in the UK and quintuple platinum in the US.
Adele explained that she originally wrote the song using an acoustic guitar, only later turning to the piano.
Its simple melody makes it a favorite with students, while its lyrics make it a firm favorite with singers everywhere.
4) ‘Für Elise’
Beethoven is a popular favorite for piano students because his music is so recognizable. Für Elise is actually called Bagatelle in A Minor but few would know that name.
It’s a more substantial piece so it’s not ideal for absolute beginners. But for those of you who want to stretch your playing wings, it’s a perfect choice.
The score was actually published in 1867, 40 years after Beethoven’s death. No one knows who ‘Elise’ was. Some believe the name was mis-transcribed and it should be Für Therese, named for a former friend of the composer.
5) ‘The Entertainer – A Ragtime Two-Step’
Scott Joplin’s 1902 melody is definitely one of the most popular piano songs. Published in 1902, it was originally sold as sheet music before being used in player pianos.
It’s more famous for its use in the 1973 film, The Sting. The film was set in the 1930s, though ragtime’s popularity ended a generation earlier. The Sting also helped audiences to rediscover Joplin’s work, as well as ragtime.
The song is now commonly played by ice cream trucks.
6) ‘Rondo Alla Turca’
Otherwise known as Piano Sonata No.11, Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca is a piano student classic. Scholars believe Mozart wrote the sonata in 1783.
Its name means ‘The Turkish March’ because it emulates Turkish Janissary bands. These bands were popular during the eighteenth century.
The melody is played several times on the town radio station throughout the 1998 film, The Truman Show. It also appears in other films, such as the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
7) ‘A Thousand Miles’
A Thousand Miles was Vanessa Carlton’s international debut. She reached the top ten in many charts, yet despite receiving three Grammy nominations, the song didn’t pick up any awards.
The song was first played during a scene in the 2001 film, Legally Blonde.
Vanessa Carlton didn’t become a household name but through the popularity of the song on the radio, A Thousand Miles has become one of the more famous modern piano songs.
8) ‘Clair de Lune’
Debussy’s Clair de Lune often appears on compilations of music to aid sleep. It’s not surprising since the piece is so restful.
The third movement of Suite bergamasque, its name means ‘Moonlight’.
Debussy first composed the suite in 1890, but didn’t publish it until 1905. Sadly he grew to hate these pieces by the time he reached publication.
No list of famous piano songs is complete without John Lennon’s Imagine. The anti-war anthem is touching but its melody is easy to master.
Recorded in 1971, Lennon co-produced the song with legendary producer Phil Spector. The song has sold 1.6 million copies in the UK alone.
The song finally reached no.1 in the UK chart after Lennon’s murder in 1980. Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport adopted the line “Above us only sky” as their slogan.
It’s also famous for being the song played before the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
10) ‘Piano Man’
Billy Joel’s hit was made for a list of popular piano songs. Piano Man was Joel’s first single, released in 1973. It has since become his ‘signature’ song.
The lyrics explore Joel’s experiences as a singer in a piano lounge in the early 1970s. The characters in the song are based on people he encountered at the lounge.
At 5 minutes and 38 seconds, it was originally deemed too long when it was released. Later edits saw the running time reduced, something Joel referred to in his song, The Entertainer.
Piano Man is now a beloved piano favorite. It was even selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2016.
Learn These Popular Piano Songs and Become a Master.
If you’re struggling to commit to music lessons, then learning these songs can be a way to overcome the challenge.
They’re fun to play and more recognizable to friends and family than Rachmaninoff or Brahms.
Now you just need to buy a piano to play them on!
More Popular Piano Songs
In addition to the top 10 popular piano songs for beginners here is a much more comprehensive list of songs that just didn’t quite make our top 10 list. You will find 50 of our other favourite famous piano songs below.
|SONG||AUTHOR / YEAR||LISTEN / WATCH|
|Someone Like You||Adele||Listen / Watch|
|Let It Go||Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)||Listen / Watch|
|Piano Man||Billy Joel||Listen / Watch|
|Clocks||Coldplay||Listen / Watch|
|What a Wonderful World||Loius Armstrong||Listen / Watch|
|Hey Jude||The Beatles||Listen / Watch|
|Fallin'||Alicia Keys||Listen / Watch|
|Bohemian Rhapsody||Queen||Listen / Watch|
|See You Again||Furious 7: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||Listen / Watch|
|Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8, Pathetique||Voice · 2011||Listen / Watch|
|Mad World||Gary Jules||Listen / Watch|
|River Flows in You||First Love · 2001||Listen / Watch|
|Clair de lune, for piano (Suite Bergamasque No. 3), L. 75/3||Claude Debussy||Listen / Watch|
|Sugar||Maroon 5||Listen / Watch|
|Let Her Go||All the Little Lights · 2012||Listen / Watch|
|La Campanella||Rêve d'amour||Listen / Watch|
|Don't Stop Believin'||Escape · 1981||Listen / Watch|
|Grenade||Bruno Mars||Listen / Watch|
|Believer||Imagine Dragons||Listen / Watch|
|Halo||Beyonce||Listen / Watch|
|Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2||Franz Liszt||Listen / Watch|
|Can't Help Falling in Love||Elvis Presley||Listen / Watch|
|Shape of You||Ed Sheeren||Listen / Watch|
|Make You Feel My Love||Adele||Listen / Watch|
|A Thousand Years||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 · 2011||Listen / Watch|
|Wildest Dreams||Taylor Swift||Listen / Watch|
|Viva la Vida||Coldplay||Listen / Watch|
|All of Me||John Legend||Listen / Watch|
|This Is Me||The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||Listen / Watch|
|Counting Stars||One Republic||Listen / Watch|
|I See the Light||Tangled · 2010||Listen / Watch|
|The Scientist||Coldplay||Listen / Watch|
|Stay with Me||Sam Smith||Listen / Watch|
|Stressed Out||Twenty One Pilots||Listen / Watch|
|When I Was Your Man||Bruno Mars||Listen / Watch|
|Love Me Like You Do||Ellie Goulding||Listen / Watch|
|Comptine D'un Autre été||Yann Tiersen||Listen / Watch|
|Flashlight||Jessie J||Listen / Watch|
|Comptine d'un Autre été: L'Après-Midi||Yann Tiersen||Listen / Watch|
|When We Were Young||Adele||Listen / Watch|
|Closer||The Chainsmokers||Listen / Watch|
|7 Years||Lukas Graham||Listen / Watch|
|I Really Like You||Carly Rae Jepsen||Listen / Watch|
|Liebestraum||Franz Liszt||Listen / Watch|
|(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction||The Rolling Stones||Listen / Watch|
|Interstellar (Main Theme) - Piano Version||Hans Zimmer||Listen / Watch|
|Meant to Be||Bebe Rexha||Listen / Watch|
|Don't Look Back in Anger||Oasis||Listen / Watch|
|Fireflies||Owl City||Listen / Watch|
|Love Song||Sara Bareilles||Listen / Watch|