A power chord is a two-note chord that does not fall under either the major or minor chords because it contains the root and fifth notes of a particular chord. The power chord is an important element in many popular songs. It allows musicians to make things simpler for themselves.
Power chords can be used to play bass lines and rhythm guitar at the same time. A significant number of power chords are composed of a perfect fifth, while others omit the fifth and include the root note on both top and bottom (which is only acceptable in alternate tuning).
A perfect fifth generates a major chord, while an augmented fifth can generate any variation of the augmented chord.
Without getting into more details, I’ve compiled a list of 20 songs with power chords. Let’s dive in!
- 1. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
- 2. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
- 3. American Idiot – Green Day
- 4. Iron Man – Black Sabbath
- 5. 21 Guns – Green Day
- 6. Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar
- 7. Enter Sandman – Metallica
- 8. Polly – Nirvana
- 9. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
- 10. All Day And All Night – The Kinks
- 11. Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
- 12. Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
- 13. Rolling In The Deep – Adele
- 14. Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
- 15. Go With The Flow – Queens Of The Stone Age
- 16. Vertigo – U2
- 17. 5/4 – Gorillaz
- 18. Crimson And Clover – Joan Jett
- 19. Talk Dirty To Me – Poison
- 20. All The Small Things – Blink 182
1. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
A suitable way to start this list wouldn’t you agree? Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life was released in 2000 and it’s a song that uses power chords a lot.
This is a song that has been a favorite of mine for a very long time and it’s mainly because of the catchy lyrics, chorus, and riff along with the kind of fast pace it has going on.
Let’s face it, it’s a favorite to many of you out there. Bon Jovi have been around for a very long time and they still rock to this day. These guys are legends in my opinion.
2. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus is another power chord song that we all know all too well. The song was released in 2000 and became an instant hit, reaching #19 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
We’ve all gone through the teenage phase where these power chords simply pumped us up and just drove us to music further. Maybe some of you are still in the teenage phase, nevertheless, this song is a great one, regardless of your age.
3. American Idiot – Green Day
No shocker here am I right? American Idiot by Green Day was released in 2004 by Reprise Records on the same-titled album that sold over six million copies in America alone and became the band’s third number one record.
This song is in a way a definition of power chords in their primal form. Power chords are sometimes considered the building blocks for heavy metal music but we can clearly hear their use in Punk as well.
4. Iron Man – Black Sabbath
Iron Man by Black Sabbath is another great power chords song. The song was released in the year 1971. The song was written by the members of Black Sabbath; Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward.
A lot of Iron Man guitar tutorials are available on Youtube which helps beginner players play this classic rock song easily with easy chords progressions. Iron Man by Black Sabbath is a song that will be remembered for many years to come.
The song was a major hit and also received a Grammy Award nomination in the year 1972.
5. 21 Guns – Green Day
No surprise that Green Day is here with another one. Their song 21 Guns was released in 2009 and is still getting airplay. Another song that uses power chords and is recognizable by many out there.
Green Day themselves serve as a staple in Punk music. Fun fact – my graduating high school paper was about Green Day and this was years ago, so it just goes to show that their influence and music is not even close to finishing.
6. Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar
Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar is an incredibly energetic song, to say the least. Hit Me With Your Best Shot was released in 1980 from the album Crimes Of Passion. If you are familiar with this power chords song, you might also remember it from Rock Of Ages.
A simply electrifying song that just gets you on your feet. If you have an electric guitar nearby, then definitely take this one for a spin. It will undoubtedly be a head-turner.
7. Enter Sandman – Metallica
Going into more suitable waters for power chords with the legendary Metallica. Their song Enter Sandman was released in 1991 and is from the album of the same name.
It’s been voted #1 on “Best Metal Song” by VH1 a whopping amount of times (27), and has been covered a fair few times too! Surely everyone knows this piece and will support the choice to be on this list.
With power chords galore, huge drums, and plenty of fills to look at, this is a great study piece if you want to learn how to make your power chords sound good.
8. Polly – Nirvana
Nirvana’s Polly was released in 1991, and it’s one of the most misunderstood songs in their catalog. With many controversies around the song’s meaning, this is one of the few that faces such on this list.
The song uses power chords and is in the key of E major. Despite its bad credit, it surely fits the description of power chord songs that is just really fun to play on the guitar.
9. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Seven Nation Army is a song that almost anyone knows all too well. Being a frequent one for most beginner guitarists and bassists, it is only adequate that we include it on the list. The White Stripes released the song in 2003 on their album, Elephant.
The song has an interesting and memorable riff that starts the song. One of Jack White’s best guitar riffs opens up this song along with Meg White grooving away on some simple drum beats. A great song to learn for beginners and is a must-have on your list of songs to play!
10. All Day And All Night – The Kinks
All Day And All Night by The Kinks is an oldie but goldie that just proves power chords can be found even in the earlier years. The song was released in the Kinks debut album ‘Kinks’ in 1964. The song has a great drive and is perfect for those intro moments on the electric guitar.
The power chords make it relatively easy to play. The song is written in the key of A Major and uses some open chords in the first position. The intro riff can be played with just three power chords that are moved around, making it very easy to learn.
11. Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield is one that almost everyone knows and can sing along as soon as they hear it. The song was released in 1981 and topped the charts in 24 countries!
What many people don’t know is that the song was actually inspired by Rick’s high school sweetheart, Lynne. The song has power chords, smooth bass playing, layered vocals, and is upbeat. A more than worthy song to be featured on this list, wouldn’t you agree?
12. Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
Surely everyone recognizes Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away. It wasn’t long ago that every beginner band was covering this song as well as an incredibly listened-to song. It was released in 1998 as a single and has been the most searched Kravitz song on Google since 2006.
The fact is that Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away was one of the biggest successes in 1998. It made it to number 3 on Billboard Hot 100 and if you take into consideration all its chart entries, the song reached number 1 and stayed in that position for 4 weeks in the US.
13. Rolling In The Deep – Adele
A shocker to most I would presume. But Adele’s Rolling In The Deep is indeed a power chord song. The song was released in 2010 and debuted at #1 in the UK. The song then went on to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe, 2 Grammys, among several other awards.
Rolling In The Deep was written by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth. It’s not very often that a song gets to be #1 and is also written with power chords, so I found it interesting. Let me know what you think!
14. Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
You don’t have to be a Rocky fan to know this song, let alone enjoy it! Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger was released in 1982 of the Rocky III Soundtrack. The song even won a Grammy award for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
Eye Of The Tiger reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in April of 1983. A riff for the ages and power chords that will never go out of style, Eye Of The Tiger is a song that has stood the test of time. It is still used as a walk-out song for most fighters across the world.
15. Go With The Flow – Queens Of The Stone Age
Delving into more suitable waters for power chords with Queens Of The Stone Age. Their son Go With The Flow was released in 2003 and was another hit for the band.
The song is in standard tuning, with a descending riff played through most of the song over D5 power chord progression.
A satisfying and electrifying song that gets your juices running. The song itself makes you feel like you’re in constant movement. The song is not hard to learn on the guitar, so if you want to have this one under your belt, it won’t take very long.
16. Vertigo – U2
U2 is another familiar name on this list that you will recognize immediately. Their song Vertigo was released in 2004 and is a single from their album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”. The song was written by the band’s drummer, Larry Mullen Jr.
Its notable power chord was influenced by Pete Townshend of The Who (“Baba O’Riley” 1979) with additional inspiration from U2’s own Zoo TV Tour. Any U2 song is worth learning to further broaden your growing repertoire.
17. 5/4 – Gorillaz
5/4 by the Gorillaz was released in 2001, as part of the second album of the Gorillaz. 5/4 was named after the time signature of its first track which is 5/4. However, Albarn has said that this was a coincidence and that the song should be called 5/4 because it’s in 5/4 time.
Nevertheless, the power chord riff that opens the song is a heavily syncopated one, portraying its title. A more than worthy candidate for the list!
18. Crimson And Clover – Joan Jett
Crimson And Clover by the legendary Joan Jett is another power chord reliable. The song was released in 1981 and it’s one of those songs that never gets old.
A lot of times it’s the chorus where we find those unconditional love references. The use of “I” instead of “you” makes this song as personal as possible.
The power chord is extremely noticeable here and it’s pretty much an automatic choice. It’s a cool and challenging song to play fast but it gives you a lot of satisfaction when you do it right!
19. Talk Dirty To Me – Poison
Almost to the end, we have the great Poison. Their song Talk Dirty To Me was released in 1987 on the album Look What The Cat Dragged In.
The song’s power chord is great for beginners because it’s easy to play. Aside from the fact that the song is easy, it’s also a very catchy tune that your family members and friends will surely get a kick out of. Grab your guitar and start wailing this legendary power chord!
To top this list off is the one-and-only Blink 182. Their song All The Small Things was released in 2000 and I must say it is definitely one of their more pop-filled songs. We have a mixture of genres, with some indie rock sprinkled in there too!
It is a Punk-Rock classic that every one of us remembers from our teenage years. Nevertheless, this song has a memorable power chord that still holds its own even to this day. A great addition to anyone’s repertoire hands down!
Power chords are the most simple chord that you can ever use. They are ideal for beginners and mostly because of their simplicity, they have all these great bands using this chord in almost every one of their songs.
U2, Green Day, Blink 182, The Beatles are just some examples of well-known bands that have used power chords in many of their hit songs. Learning one or two of those chords is a great way to start your guitar journey.
There are many online tutorials that you can find about learning these particular chords. It might take a few hours, but it’ll be worth it in the end!