Popular Guitar Songs

Popular Guitar Songs: Your Gateway to Mastering the Strings with Style

A close up of an acoustic guitar being played

Ever found yourself yearning to strum your guitar to the tunes of popular guitar songs? Whether you own an acoustic or electric guitar, some tracks are universally acknowledged for their iconic guitar moments. But wait, here’s the golden catch – many of these are surprisingly simple to play!

From catchy songs with toe-tapping rhythms to soulful acoustic guitar songs, pop music offers an abundance of easy guitar songs for beginners and pros alike. So, why not dive into the universe of pop and discover some of these gems?

1. “I Love It” by Icana Pop

Picture of the pop band Icana Pop

Chords: Em, D, A, G

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Up-Up-Down-Up

Tip: This song has a lively tempo. Start slow, get the chord transitions smooth, and then gradually pick up the pace.
Insider’s Take: The charm of this song? Its lively tempo! When you’re just starting out, don’t rush it. Nail those chord transitions first. As you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself dancing while strumming in no time.

“I Love It” by Icona Pop: IMAGE: Close-up of a guitar being strummed. This track burst onto the scene with its infectious chorus and straightforward chord progressions. Perfect for the electric guitar enthusiast who’s looking to add a modern touch to their repertoire. Thanks to its catchy song nature, it’s guaranteed to be a hit at parties!

2.”All of Me” by John Legend

John Legend

Chords: Em, C, G, D

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Up-Down-Up-Down-Up

Tip: Focus on the emotional depth. Allow each chord to resonate, emphasizing the soulful nature of the song.

Insider’s Take: This song is dripping with emotion. Let each chord really feel and linger. It’s not just about playing, it’s about expressing those deep feelings.

“All of Me” by John Legend: Who could resist the smooth and soulful vibes of John Legend? This tune is among the acoustic guitar songs that radiate emotion. Its chord progression, mainly made of basic chords like the G chord progression and the C chords, are relatively easy. And yet, with the right strumming pattern, you can evoke deep feelings, making it a great song to serenade someone special.

3.”Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

Chords: D, Bm, G, D/F#, A

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Up-Down-Up-Down-Up

Tip: This song has a sweet, melodic flow. Ensure your chord transitions are fluid, especially between D/F# and A.

Insider’s Take: The melodic flow is key here. Keep those chord transitions smooth, especially between D/F# and A. Imagine you’re singing to someone, making them feel treasured.

“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars: Bruno Mars, with his impeccable vocal melodies and knack for creating timeless tunes, gifted us with this track. It’s one of those pop songs that feel tailored for the acoustic guitar. Plus, the strumming patterns aren’t too complex, making it an ideal choice for those looking to play pop songs without getting too overwhelmed.

4.”Photograph” by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Chords: D, Bm, A, G

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Up-Down-Down-Up

Tip: Embrace the song’s softness. Let the chords ring out, and pay attention to the pauses.

Insider’s Take: Dive into its softness. Savor the pauses, and let the chords echo the sentiment of cherished memories.

“Photograph” by Ed Sheeran: IMAGE: Ed Sheeran with his guitar. Here’s a track that sounds just as ethereal on an electric guitar as it does on an acoustic. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. The open chords and strumming pattern are easy to catch onto, perfect for those seeking an acoustic guitar lesson through actual song play.

5.”Ride” by Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots

Chords: D, G, A, Bm

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Up-Up-Down-Up

Tip: This one’s a bit more rhythmic. Try to tap your foot along as you play to keep the rhythm consistent.

Insider’s Take: Here’s the trick – keep the rhythm steady. Try tapping your foot. It’s rhythmic, it’s catchy; get lost in it!

“Ride” by Twenty One Pilots: Driven by a memorable melody and compelling lyrics, ‘Ride’ offers a slightly challenging yet fun endeavor for those who want to venture beyond basic acoustic guitar songs. The chord progressions involve both open chords and barre chords, providing a balanced experience.

6.”With or Without You” by U2


Chords: D, A, Bm, G

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Down-Up-Down-Up

Tip: This song has an atmospheric feel. It’s okay to let the chords sustain a bit longer than usual.
Insider’s Take: Create an atmosphere. Let the chords resonate, making your guitar weep and rejoice with the song’s ebb and flow.

“With or Without You” by U2: An iconic song that seamlessly fits both acoustic and electric guitars. Its chord progression revolves around the classic rock songs’ essence. Plus, it gives a slight hint of music theory without getting too technical.

7.”Diamonds” by Rihanna


Chords: G, Bm, A, D

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Down-Up-Down-Up-Down-Up

Tip: Focus on the transitions between the Bm and A chords, as that gives the song its characteristic sound.

Insider’s Take: Those transitions, especially between Bm and A, give this track its flavor. Picture diamonds in the sky as you play, and let your guitar sparkle.

“Diamonds” by Rihanna: Pop songs like this one showcase that the genre can be both catchy and sophisticated. With a hint of electric guitars in the original, you can also opt to play it on an acoustic guitar, emphasizing the vocal melodies.

8.”You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Chords: D, A, Em, G

Basic Strumming Pattern: Down-Up-Down-Up-Down-Up-Down-Up

Tip: Taylor’s songs often tell a story. Feel the narrative and let that guide your rhythm.

Insider’s Take: It’s a story, a diary entry, a confession. Every strum should tell that story. Let the chords dance to the tale of unspoken love.

“You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift: IMAGE: Taylor Swift playing her guitar. Tailor-made for acoustic guitar, this song is filled with emotion, a catchy chorus, and a strumming pattern that’ll have everyone singing along in no time.

9.”Last Christmas” by Wham!


Chords: D, Bm, Em, A Strumming Pattern: D-DU-UDU

Start with a D chord, then transition to Bm, Em, and finish with A. Your main strumming rhythm for the whole song is Down-DownUp-UpDownUp. Practice this rhythm slowly and then speed up as you get more comfortable.

Tip: Make sure you’re letting the chords ring out, giving it that festive vibe.

Hey, who said Christmas tunes are only for December? This classic has a chord progression that’ll stick in your head for days (in a good way!). Wham! gifted us not just with an evergreen holiday tune but also with a beginner-friendly acoustic or electric guitar piece.

10.”Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Chords: Am, C, Dm, F

Strumming Pattern: D-DU-DU

With the Capo on 4th fret, use the chords Am, C, Dm, and F. The catchy rhythm of this song is pretty straightforward with a Down-DownUp-DownUp pattern.

Tip: Try to mimic Ed’s laid-back style while strumming to capture the song’s feel.

One of the kings of pop songs with memorable guitar backing, Ed Sheeran never disappoints. This particular track has an intoxicating rhythm and is a popular guitar song choice for many. Especially with its basic chords, it’s one of those acoustic guitar songs that sounds amazing but is pretty simple to play. Dive into an acoustic guitar lesson tailored for “Shape of You” and you’ll master it in no time.

11.”7 Years” by Lukas Graham

Lukas Graham

Chords: Em, G, C Strumming Pattern: D-DU-DU

This is a three-chord wonder, with Em, G, and C being the main chords. Use the same Down-DownUp-DownUp pattern, putting emphasis on the first strum to align with the song’s tempo.

Tip: Listen to the song’s rhythm and play along, focusing on the song’s storytelling element.

The vocals, the story, the melody – all epic. “7 Years” gives us all the feels. With its catchy song structure and engaging vocal melodies, even the most basic strumming pattern would make you sound like a pro. You’ll be playing this timeless track before you know it.

12. “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

Chords: Am, C, G, F Strumming Pattern: D-DU-DU-DU

Starting with the Am chord, follow up with C, G, and then F. Maintain the strumming pattern consistently throughout the song.

Tip: This song is all about momentum. Keep it steady and energetic!

If there’s ever a song to jumpstart your electric guitar passion, this might be it. It’s dynamic, it’s fresh, and oh, those electric guitars sound divine! Plus, the chord progressions here are a treat for anyone looking to experiment and play pop songs.

13.”Let Her Go” by Passenger


Chords: C, D, Em, D/C, B7

Strumming Pattern: D-DU-D-DU

Anchor your song with the chords C, D, Em, D/C, and B7. It’s a tad trickier, but trust me, the result is so rewarding. Stick with Down-DownUp-Down-DownUp strumming.

Tip: Focus on the song’s emotional depth. Let your strumming be soft and heartfelt.

This song is the embodiment of the saying, “Simple is beautiful.” The strumming patterns are easy, the chords are basic, and the result? Simply mesmerizing. “Let Her Go” is a staple in the guitar songs for beginners list. Plus, it’s a great song to serenade someone special, just saying!

14.”Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons

Chords: Am, C, G, D

Strumming Pattern: D-DU-DU

This is a powerful song, and even with simple chords like Am, C, G, and D, you can capture its essence. Stick to the Down-DownUp-DownUp rhythm.

Tip: For that rockier feel, try palm muting during verses and then let it rip in the chorus.

Bring out those electric guitars and power chords because this track will make you feel alive! A fusion of rock songs elements and pop, “Radioactive” is dynamic and energetic. And guess what? It’s quite beginner-friendly too.

15.”Viva La Vida” by Coldplay


Chords: C, D, G, Em

Strumming Pattern: D-DU-UDU

Use the chords C, D, G, and Em to navigate through this iconic Coldplay song. This rhythmic Down-DownUp-UpDownUp pattern gives you the song’s marching feel.

Tip: Focus on the transitions between chords, making each change smooth.

From its iconic cello intro to its rich vocal melodies, this track is a journey. With open chords and a smooth strumming pattern, it’s a track that feels ethereal on an acoustic guitar.

16.”Let It Be” by The Beatles

The Beatles

Chords: C, G, Am, F

Strumming Pattern: D-DU-UDU

Grounded in the chords C, G, Am, and F, this song is a timeless piece. Your main rhythm, Down-DownUp-UpDownUp, is easy-going and perfect for this classic.

Tip: It’s The Beatles! Feel the history, the vibe, and let the chords flow.

No list of guitar songs is complete without The Beatles. “Let It Be” is one of those songs that’s not just a treat to the ears, but it’s also a lesson in music theory. The song’s chord progression, especially the transition from C chords to that G chord progression, is a masterclass.

17.”Hey, Soul Sister” by Train

Train band members

Chords: E, B, C#m, and A.

Strumming Pattern: Use the pattern DDU UDU throughout the song.

Beginner Tip: Try to master the transitions between C#m and A; it’s a small challenge but with some practice, it’ll come naturally. Also, don’t rush the tempo, take it slow and gradually pick up speed.

Background: When Train released this infectious tune, it quickly became a favorite among budding guitarists. Its upbeat tempo and delightful melody are reminiscent of sunny days.
Ah, the bright and bubbly sound of “Hey, Soul Sister.” This song shot Train back into the limelight in 2009 with its catchy ukulele riffs and poppy vibes. Perfect for beginners, you’ll be mainly working with four chords: E, B, C#m, and A. The strumming pattern is pretty straightforward – think of a DDU UDU rhythm. While originally played on the ukulele, it translates beautifully onto the guitar. The song’s light, breezy feel is perfect for a sunny day, and the chord progression gives beginners an excellent intro to mastering transitions.

18.”Redemption Song” by Bob Marley

Bob Marley

Chords: G, Em, C, D with the occasional Am and C/D.

Strumming Pattern: Stick to D-DU-UDU.

Beginner Tip: Focus on clean transitions, especially between the Em and C chords. Also, practice the finger-picking intro, it’s simple and sets the mood for the song.
Background: Marley’s anthem of hope and freedom, “Redemption Song” is a soulful track that speaks of emancipation, making it not just musically significant but historically as well.

Bob Marley, a legendary figure in the world of reggae, brought us “Redemption Song” in 1980. It’s a poignant anthem of freedom and emancipation. For beginners, this song is an ideal introduction to finger-picking, though it’s equally beautiful strummed. The primary chords are G, Em, C, and D, but there are occasional Am and C/D chords as well. The main strumming pattern to stick to is D-DU-UDU. Not only will you learn a beautiful tune, but playing it will also connect you to the song’s deep message and Marley’s rich legacy.

19.”All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

Meghan Trainor

Chords: A, Bm, E, and A.

Strumming Pattern: The rhythm D-DU-UDU fits perfectly.

Beginner Tip: The chord transitions in this song are fairly straightforward, making it a great song for beginners. Pay attention to the Bm chord; barre chords can be tricky but keep at it!

Background: Meghan Trainor’s pop anthem is a catchy, danceable number. The retro feel gives it a timeless essence and it’s an absolute joy to play.

Believe it or not, behind this pop-dance hit lies a chord progression that’s easy and fun to play. For the most part, you’re looking at A, Bm, E, and A. And whether you’re on an acoustic or electric guitar, that bassy groove is infectious.
Meghan Trainor made waves with her body-positive anthem, “All About That Bass,” in 2014. It’s not just catchy – it’s also relatively simple to play on the guitar! The song’s chord progression primarily revolves around A, Bm, E, and A. For the majority of the song, you can stick to a basic D-DU-UDU strumming pattern. The 50s doo-wop influence gives it a timeless quality. As you jam out, you’ll not only be playing a recent pop hit but also getting a feel of an older musical era.

20.”Royals” by Lorde


Chords: D, C, G, and Em.

Strumming Pattern: D-DU-UDU captures the beat effectively.

Beginner Tip: The C to G transition might be a bit of a stretch for your fingers at first, but with repetition, it’ll become second nature. Keep practicing, and remember to let Lorde’s powerful vocals guide your rhythm.

Background: This song from New Zealand sensation, Lorde, is a minimalist masterpiece. It speaks about the desire for a simpler life, away from the allure of luxury.

Lorde’s minimalist style in “Royals” is a prime example of less is more. It’s a fantastic track to understand how vocal melodies can be complemented by subtle guitar playing. Primarily relying on D, C, G, and Em, this song has a strumming pattern that lets the lyrics shine.

New Zealand’s Lorde took the world by storm with her minimalist yet profound song “Royals” in 2013. Its simplicity and rebellious spirit set it apart. The song primarily relies on D, C, G, and Em chords. You can maintain a consistent D-DU-UDU strumming pattern throughout. The beauty of “Royals” is how it emphasizes the power of vocal melodies complemented by understated instrumentals. It’s a lesson in how sometimes less is more, musically speaking.

21.”Stir It Up” by Bob Marley

Chords: A, D, E.

Strumming Pattern: Adopt a relaxed D-DU-DU to get that chill reggae vibe.

Beginner Tip: If you’re unfamiliar with reggae, it can feel a little different from traditional rock/pop rhythms. Try listening to the song and playing along, it’ll help you get a feel for the unique strumming style.

Background: A softer, romantic track by Marley, “Stir It Up” showcases the tender side of reggae, making it a great addition to any campfire sing-along.

We return to the legendary Bob Marley with “Stir It Up,” a romantic tune that’s smooth and relaxing. This song from 1972 showcases the softer, love-centric side of Marley. Focusing mainly on the A, D, and E chords, it’s an excellent song for beginners to practice and get into the groove of reggae rhythms. The strumming pattern is a relaxed D-DU-DU, perfect for capturing the laid-back feel of the song. Playing “Stir It Up” is like a musical journey to a beach in Jamaica, with the waves gently crashing and a bonfire crackling.

22.”Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Chords: A, E, F#m, D, E7, A7, C#m, Bm, E7

Strumming: A gentle pattern can be D-DU-UDU (D = Down, U = Up)

Tip: Start slow, as this song’s beauty lies in its emotion and soft strumming. Once you get comfortable with the chords, focus on the smooth transitions.

This is an iconic song, and while its background is a tragic one, it’s also a testament to how music can help process pain. Its fingerpicking technique is a bit advanced, but even the stripped-down version, with just strummed chords, sounds magical.

23.”Fire and Rain” by James Taylor

James Taylor

Chords: G, Em, Cmaj7, Am, D, Gmaj7

Strumming: A simple pattern of D-DU-DU fits well.

Tip: James Taylor has a unique style. It’s beneficial to listen to the song multiple times to get the rhythm. The Cmaj7 gives it a jazzy touch; practice this chord to get its full sound.

James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” has been a staple for acoustic guitar enthusiasts. The timeless classic showcases Taylor’s unique style, blending pop rock and a bit of a bluesy flair. If you’re keen on diving into the realm of singer-songwriters, this should be your starting point.

24.”Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Chords: E7#9, G, A

Strumming: Given the song’s rock nature, a more assertive D-D-DU pattern can work.

Tip: This song is all about attitude. The E7#9 is famously known as the “Hendrix chord.” While it may be a stretch for beginners, once mastered, it’s a versatile chord for blues and rock.

Alright, this might be a bit of a leap from James Taylor. But, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to tackle an electric guitar song, who better than Jimi Hendrix? His riffs in “Purple Haze” encapsulate the spirit of rock and roll. It’s a fun song that, once mastered, will surely impress.

25.”Get Lucky” by Daft Punk

Daft Punk

Chords: Bm, D, F#m, E

Strumming: Stick to a funky D-DU-UDU pattern.

Tip: The groove is essential for this song. Try to mute the strings slightly with your palm to get that rhythmic, dancey feel.

This hip hop infused track might be more associated with bass grooves, but it’s a fantastic number for beginner guitarists, especially if you’re into bubblegum pop. The chords are easy, and that bass note will have you tapping your foot in no time.

26.”Love on the Weekend” by John Mayer

John Mayer

Chords: G, D, Em, C, Am

Strumming: A gentle D-DU-DU is a good starting point.

Tip: John Mayer’s style often involves intricate fingerpicking, but for beginners, mastering the chords and strumming will get you a long way.

John Mayer, with his blend of pop charts hits and bluesy deep cuts, offers a unique sound for those keen to explore. “Love on the Weekend” is a stripped-down song with a simple strumming pattern. The best part? It offers beginners a chance to play with both chords and single-note melodies.

27.”Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard

Lynard Skynard

Chords: D, Cadd9, G

Strumming: Stick to D-DU-DU-DU for that southern swing.

Tip: While the song has a signature riff, as a beginner, focusing on the chord transitions and getting the strumming right will transport you right to Alabama’s heart.

This is that fun song that makes even the most stoic of folks tap their foot. Starting with a simple strumming pattern, this song lets beginner guitarists get the feel of switching between chord shapes. And oh, the joy when you hit that D chord after the bass note in the intro! Once you’re comfortable, dive into the fingerpicking technique to give it that authentic Lynyrd Skynyrd vibe.

28.”Brown Sugar” The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

“Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones
Chords: C, F9, G

Strumming: Go with a rhythmic D-DU-UDU pattern.

Tip: The Rolling Stones are known for their energetic style. Once you’re comfortable, try to put more emphasis on the first Down strum to capture the song’s essence.

Next on the list? “Brown Sugar” by none other than The Rolling Stones. Those power chords and the bluesy flair will make you feel like you’re on stage, with thousands cheering for you.

It’s a great tune to introduce beginner guitarists to the world of pop rock, and the chord charts are fairly straightforward. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself lost in the vocal melodies of Mick Jagger.

29.”Kids” by MGMT


Chords: D, A, G, Bm

Strumming: Go for a continuous D-DU-UDU pattern.

Tip: This song has an upbeat, almost anthemic quality. The transitions between chords should be swift, giving it an energetic feel.

“Kids” by MGMT is more than just a pop star’s dream. It’s got that bubblegum pop feel, but when you play guitar to this, it’s a different experience altogether. The stripped-down version is beginner-friendly and the official song released still gives it a modern twist.

On the other hand, “I Need My Girl” by The National has a more somber tone. The easy guitar chords and the haunting vocal melodies make it a favorite among those looking for depth in their music.

30.”I Need My Girl” by The National

The National

Chords: C, Am, Em, G

Strumming: A melancholic D-DU-DU suits the song’s mood.

Tip: This song is slow and reverberating. Make each strum count and let the chords resonate.

On the other hand, “I Need My Girl” by The National has a more somber tone. The easy guitar chords and the haunting vocal melodies make it a favorite among those looking for depth in their music.

The Golden Basics for Beginners

Popular Guitar Songs

Now, if you’re just beginning your journey into the world of guitar playing, remember that you don’t need to be Bob Dylan to make a mark. Dive deep into easy guitar songs to kickstart your journey. From the ‘hey soul sister’ tracks to ones with soul-stirring guitar solos, the options are endless.

While electric guitars offer a unique vibe with their power chords, there’s something undeniably timeless about an acoustic guitar lesson that centers on classic pop songs. Embracing the basic chords can give you a firm foundation. Learning songs like these means you don’t always need to go into the intricacies of barre chords or complex strumming patterns initially.

To aid in your exploration, you might want to check out this list of 100 easy beginner guitar songs. And while you’re at it, let the guitar world’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time be your guiding stars.

Final Notes

The magic of popular guitar songs lies in their ability to resonate with masses while being simple enough for aspiring musicians. So, whether you’re drawn to the soft strums of an acoustic guitar or the electrifying vibes of electric guitars, there’s a world of easy pop songs waiting for you.

Remember, pal, these are your starter packs for each song. As you cozy up with them, you’ll discover unique beats and rhythms. Music is all about feeling, so enjoy the journey and let your guitar sing its heart out! 🎸