Proven over and over again, simplicity is the key in music sometimes. Keeping it basic, yet efficient is a mastery of its own, and we have more than few examples to prove it.
Pop songs are often based around that same four-chord pattern, but you can go even simpler than that. This time around, we'll take one step down and give you 10 famous songs based around three chords only. Check out the rundown below.
Bill Haley and the Comets - "Rock Around the Clock" (E, B, A)
As always, classics are the good place to start. Only three chords, recorded and released 60 years ago (!), but still hip and energetic an always.
Bob Dylan - "Knockin' on the Heaven's Door" (G, C, D)
An obvious pick here, possibly the single most covered song in history. Mr. Dylan is renowned for his simplicity when it comes to the amount of chords used, and "Knockin' on the Heaven's Door" only proves it. Additional three-chord examples from his opus include "Blowin' in the Wind," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and more.
The Troggs - "Wild Thing" (A, D, E)
The beginnings of garage rock, some would even say punk. Fun fact - the song wasn't originally written by The Troggs in 1966, but by The Wild Ones a year earlier.
T-Rex - "Get It On" (E, A, G)
Masterfully turning a basic blues lick into a full-on rock fest, Marc Bolan and co. still stuck to simplicity with their staple tune "Get It On." In essence, it's three chords only.
ZZ Top - "Tush" (G, C, D)
There are riffs in this one, but strip it down to bare bones and you'll get a 12-bar blues shuffle in G.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama" (G, C, D)
Epitomizing southern rock, it's Lynyrd Skynyrd and "Sweet Home Alabama." Guitarist Ed King once stated that these chords came in his dream, along two main solos.
Jimmy Buffett - "Margaritaville" (D, A, G)
Mr. Buffett was recently proclaimed the richest guitarist in the world, so we believe that a spot on the list is in order.
Joy Division - "Atmosphere" (A, D, E)
Properly integrating empty space can do wonders sonically, and Joy Division's "Atmosphere" proves it. Dynamics is the key, always remember that.
Pearl Jam - "Release" (G, C, D)
"Release" is the closing tune of Pearl Jam's breakthrough debut "Ten." It's the only track on the album's standard 11-song listing that features contributions by guitarist Mike McCready and original drummer Dave Krusen.
Arctic Monkeys - "505" (Dm, Em)
We'll close it with the Arctic Monkeys, and not a three-chord, but a two-chord song. Just to point out that artists still take the simplicity approach and are returning to basics even further.
Got more to share? Do it in the comments.