So if your a musician, most specifically a guitarist, you probably know that the majority of top 40 songs are fairly simple to play. I say guitarist because I’m a very limited guitarist and with a capo and knowledge of five or six chords, I can play a good chunk of top 40 songs. That’s because most popular songs follow a simple 4 chord progression. Usually – my piano teacher is probably going to cringe at how I describe this – you will play the first chord of the key of the song followed by the fifth, the sixth, and then the fourth chord. So in the Key of C (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C), the first chord would be a C major, followed by G major, A minor, and then F major. Of course different pop songs will be in different keys, but the chord progression is the same. So here it is, the secret to composing a radio hit!
The Axis of Awesome made the 4 chords pretty common knowledge a couple years back. Here, watch them perform their medley of popular songs: