8 More Iconic Piano Songs

Feb 12, 2020

Last week we started to take a look at some iconic (and relatively simple) piano parts for some popular rock songs. We’re going to be continuing that theme this week with a look as some more of the most incredible melodies in pop and rock, written specifically for the piano!

So, before further ado, let’s dive into some of the very best piano pop song of all time! Grab your sheet music, and let’s get to practicing!

When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

Philip Lawrence, one of Bruno Mars’s songwriting partners, speaking about the inspiration behind this song, once said, “I think Bruno and I are both huge fans of older music, like Billy Joel and Elton John. We always loved those moments where you can sit at the piano and emote. Those intimate moments when an artist is so naked and vulnerable; you can’t help but be drawn to it. We always wanted to find a stripped-down song like that, which is how that song came to be.”

A simple, but powerful ballad of love lost, this is a beautiful love song written only for the piano.

Someone Like You – Adele

Another ballad of love lost, Adele’s “Someone Like You” is easily one of the most emotional songs to be released in recent years. Adele wrote it after being dumped, and later explained, “I can imagine being about 40 and looking for him again, only to turn up and find that he’s settled with a beautiful wife and kids and he’s completely happy… and I’m still on my own. The song’s bout that and I’m scared at the thought of that.”

Between the soul-splitting lyrics and timeless piano, this one was an instant classic.

Clocks – Coldplay

As one of Coldplay’s most famous and popular songs, the opening has a delightfully iconic piano riff – which apparently just popped into Chris Martin’s mind one late night in Liverpool.

Once he got it out onto the keys, he played the riff for Jonny Buckland, the band’s guitarist, who added a few guitar chords. “He picked up his guitar [a sure sign he likes a song] and played these brilliant chords… it was like a chemical reaction process.”

Between those simple chords and Martin’s iconic piano riff, a hit was born!

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin

Written by legendary songwriting partners Carole King and Gerry Goffin, with input from Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler, this song was always intended for the incredible voice of Aretha Franklin. This song was originally released in 1967, and later included on her 1968 album, Lady Soul.

The backup vocals were provided by The Sweet Inspirations, which actually featured Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy. The piano melody is simple and timeless, helping to convey the feeling of falling in love.

Mad World – Gary Jules and Michael Andrews

“Mad World” was originally recorded by Tears for Fears in 1982 for their album The Hurting. But in 2001, composer Michael Andrews recorded this cover version for the soundtrack of the 1980s-set science fiction drama Donnie Darko, with vocals provided by Gary Jules.

This stripped-down version uses only an electronic piano backing, and amazingly became the surprise Christmas number one in the UK in 2003.

Jules once said of the song, “I think it’s a really beautiful example of a person struggling with the fact that life is mad. I honestly think it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard and the way it’s stripped sown now just pins people.” With that haunting piano, we couldn’t agree more!

A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton

Another piano-driven love song, this one was Vanessa Carlton’s debut single, and remains her most well-known hit – but what a way to debut!

Carlton has said that this song, like a few others on this list, is about “lost love,” but refuses to say who the song is about. She also called the song “a combination of reality and fantasy. It’s about a love that so consumes you that you do anything for it. That’s how I felt at that time.”

Carlton learned the piano at her mother’s side – Heidi Lee – who was an accomplished professional pianist and school music teacher herself.

Piano Man – Billy Joel

No list of iconic piano songs can be complete without Billy Joel’s “Piano Man!” The semi-autobiographical lyrics makes us all feel like we were sitting in the same bar listening to the man play in person. And that’s no wonder – it’s a somewhat fictionalized version of Joel’s own experiences as a piano-lounge singer for 6 months in 1972.

He later revealed that he had to get away from New York because of issues with his record company, and since he needed to pay the bills, but couldn’t use his well-known name, so he worked under the name “Bill Martin.”

And that leaves only one question: What is a real estate novelist?

Imagine – John Lennon

If you could choose only one iconic music video featuring a piano, it’s got to be “Imagine.”

John Lennon wrote and composed “Imagine” in one morning in early 1972, on his Steinway piano, in a bedroom in his Tittenhurst Park home in Ascot. Yoko sat nearby and watched as he composed the melody and most of the lyrics – almost completing what would go on to become one of the most recognizable and iconic piano songs of all time in one short writing session.

Did we miss you’re favourite piano song? There’s so many greats to choose from! Let us know your favourites in the comments!

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