A History of I – V – vi – IV

A History of I – V – vi – IV

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You may have seen the 2009 Axis of Awesome video demonstrating that thousands of songs use the same chord progression. This particular progression, the most popular of them all, is called the I – V – vi – IV (one, five, six, four). In the key of G that’s G, D, Em and C. So without further ado, here are 39 songs in chronological order from 1969 – 2013, that you can play using those chords in that order. Many of them are not in the key of G originally but they can be! Click on any title for a link to a chart from somewhere on the interwebs!

*hint: Can’t play all of the chords? Try messing with the “transpose” button until the first chord is G!

Oh DarlingBeatles, The1969
Let it BeBeatles, The1970
Country RoadsDenver, John1971
No Woman No CryMarley, Bob1974
Beast of BurdenRolling Stones, The1978
So LonelyPolice, The1978
Don’t Stop BelievingJourney1981
Land Down UnderMen at Work1981
Sexual Healing (actually I, V, ii, IV)Gaye, Marvin1982
Take on MeAhHa1985
With or Without YouU21987
Man in the MirrorJackson, Michael1987
We Didn’t Start the FireJoel, Billy1989
Right Here WaitingMarx, Richard1989
Under the BridgeRHCP1991
Soul to SqueezeRHCP1991
Forever YoungAlphaville1992
GoodBetter Than Ezra1993
When I Come AroundGreenday1994
Can You Feel the Love TonightJohn, Elton1994
Head Over FeetMorrissette, Alanis1995
PushMatchbox 201997
All Star (actually I, V, ii, IV)Smashmouth1999
I’m YoursMraz, Jason2005
You’re BeautifulBlunt, James2005
Happy EndingMika2006
Tear Drops on My GuitarSwift, Taylor2006
The StoryCarlile, Brandi2007
Stop and StareOne Republic2007
No OneKeys, Alicia2007
Pictures of YouThe Last Goodnight2008
Love StorySwift, Taylor2008
The ShowLenka2008
Hey Soul SisterTrain2009
Someone Like YouAdele2011
I’m on the Edge of GloryLady Gaga2011
We Are Never Getting Back TogetherSwift, Taylor2012
Wrecking BallCyrus, Miley2013

Try writing your own I, V, vi, IV hit with one of these guitar friendly keys!


Chapman comes to us from Seattle, where the summers aren't that hot, the winters aren't that cold and it doesn't rain as much as you'd think. Since he left his hometown of Anacortes, Washington in 1997, he has taught English in Prague, waited tables in Scotland, played shows in Australia and rocked it as a poor musician in five continents and over thirty countries. In Seattle, he was a teacher at the Seattle Center Academy and the front-man of the intrepid band The Red Note for five years. In addition to his responsibilities as director of online services he plays with his new band anacortes.

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