I got such a huge response to my 10 Best Pop Piano Songs article, that I realized I needed to make another one. In this post, I will share 12 more awesome pop piano songs. In it, I feature some of my favorite pop piano songs by some of the best artists the world has ever known.
Wherever possible, I chose songs that were being performed on an acoustic piano, rather than an electronic keyboard or Fender Rhodes. (Should I make a Rhodes post?)
I also tried to dig up some live performances on YouTube so you can get a chance to see/hear something you haven't already check out. Let's go!
Patti Smith - Because the Night
Because the Night was a cowrite by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen was always a fan of Smith's singing and he sought her out to help him finish this song.
Springsteen's recording of Because the Night is also really great, as is Natalie Merchant's 1993 version with her band the 10,000 Maniacs. BUT for me, Patti Smith's is absolutely amazing.
Coldplay - Clocks
Chris Martin is a terrific pianist and his band Coldplay has always kept the piano as a central part of their sound. Clocks uses the Tresillo rhythm as a central part of the groove (check out my tutorial here) and this rhythm carries throughout.
Martin favors using a small upright piano onstage, rather than a grand piano. I wonder if it helps him to feel more in the middle of the band, rather than having a big piano between him and the rest of his bandmates.
Also a big shoutout for Martin prioritizing his piano technique and posture and sitting on an adjustable drum stool!
Ben Folds - One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
**WARNING** - this song contains some swearing, but it's Ben Folds so...
This is the kickoff song on Ben Folds his second album "Ben Folds Five". I absolutely love the aggressive way he plays piano - part grunge rock and part boogie boogie.
Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush
Kate Bush is a truly one-of-a-kind artist. She really created her own sound, singing in a high, operatic voice and writing evocative, esoteric lyrics. Her song Withering Heights was a masterpiece and a snapshot into some of the amazing music she wrote in the 1980s.
Thanks to the magic of cable television, Bush's Wuthering Heights came into prominence again after being featured in the TV shows Stranger Things and Handmaid's Tale.
Mandy - Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow is the OG of pop piano and someone who had a huge impact on pop piano playing and songwriting.
Manilow started out as a pianist for Bette Midler back in her NYC bathhouse shows in the 1970s. He then went on to become a soft rock sensation, writing and singing the songs that "make the whole world sing."
Saturday In the Park: Chicago
The opening to Saturday in the Park by Chicago is one of those immediately-recognizable introductions. Within three beats, you instantly know what's coming next.
While Chicago is really known as a "horns band", this song really shows them as a "piano band" too.
Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen
Hungry Heart is one of those Bruce Springsteen songs that make you feel instantly happy and sad at the same time.
I created a piano tutorial on this iconic song. If you want to learn to play it, click here.
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Todd Rundgren - I Saw the Light
Todd Rundgren may be thought of as a prog-rock wunderkind, but he is really a pianist at heard. This iconic rock radio standard showcases another instantly recognizable piano introduction.
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Sara Bareilles has shown herself as a "Jane of all trades", as a singer, songwriter, author and Broadway composer. Love Song was her first big hit and it started a wave of other artists copycatting her iconic introduction.
This is a groove that came back into prominence thanks to her!
John Legend - All of Me
John Legend embodies old world songwriting, but in a modern package. In many ways, he is a Paul McCartney or Barry Manilow, writing love songs with beautiful harmonies.
All of Me is a gorgeous and evocative song that showcases the simple elegance of the piano.
Alicia Keys - If I Ain’t Got You
Alicia Keys is another artist who grew up with the piano as the focal point of her life. Keys took lessons all through her childhood and went to NYC LaGuardia High School of the Arts.
She has continued to make the piano the focal point of her writing and performances. If I Ain't Got You is a great example of using classical piano influences in modern music.
Donny Hathaway/Ray Charles - A Song for You
I couldn't allow myself to make another list without Donny Hathaway and Ray Charles. I found this incredible recording of Ray Charles at the Montreal Jazz festival in 1997 performing Donny Hathaway's iconic A Song For You.
Ray was the real deal who could play anything on piano and wore his heart and soul on his sleeve when he sang. LOVE this recording!
Joni Mitchell - Woodstock
Joni Mitchell is a fluid songwriter who used guitar and piano as her instrument of choice. I love her approach to playing the piano: I don't know of any artists to play quite like her.
Woodstock is her original composition and her she plays it live in 1970. Her clear soprano voice is meticulously supported by her gorgeous piano playing.
Which pop pianist should I include on my next list? Who is your favorite?
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