20 Great Songs Featuring the Piano

Updated on January 10, 2018

"Life is like a piano....what you get out of it depends on how well you play it."

      “No other acoustic instrument can match the piano's expressive range, and no electric instrument can match its mystery.” Kenneth Miller
“No other acoustic instrument can match the piano's expressive range, and no electric instrument can match its mystery.” Kenneth Miller

Joe Jackson ~ Steppin' Out

 

Joe Jackson ~ Steppin' Out

Timeless, well-written and one of understated brilliance. Joe Jackson created an unforgettable piano riff. Steppin' Out was written with the intention of giving you the feel of a 24-hour day-in-the-life feel of a modern day Cinderella and was filmed at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City.

Sarah Mclachlan ~ Angel

Sarah Mclachlan ~ Angel

Sarah wrote this song in only a few hours with keyboardist Johanthan Melvoin of the Smashing Pumpkins in mind. He died of a heroin overdose in 1996. Angel is a poignantly moving account of how intense emotional struggles we all share in our own lives, some times win the final battle. It was featured in the film "City of Angels".

Kate Bush ~ This Woman's Work

Kate Bush ~ This Woman's Work

An amazingly talented artist that is unique and became highly influential to many aspiring writers. This song was specifically written for a movie titled "She's having a Baby". Kate Bush managed to convey the feelings of a man who feels agonizingly helpless as he sits in a waiting room, not knowing if the woman he loves will survive the uncertainty of a complicated delivery.

Journey ~ Don't Stop Believing

One of those monster hits of the 1980s that actually stuck. A classic that was featured in popular shows like "Scrubs", "Family Guy" and the film "Monster". "Don't Stop Believing" was also used in the final episode of the Sopranos, when Tony hit the jukebox in the final scene, while the show faded to black.

John Legend ~ Oridnary People

John Legend ~ Ordinary People

Sung with heart and from his own personal experience, having lived through his parent's divorce. John Legend won countless awards and wide recognition for Ordinary People. The message the song leaves behind is loud and clear, lasting relationshipa takes work, risk and a kept promise of commitment.

Coldplay ~ Clocks

Coldplay ~ Clocks

I think a song about the intensity of inner turmoil. This song feels as though it transcends real time and can lead to a state of pure calm, at least for me. One of the best piano riffs ever.

Guns 'n Roses ~ November Rain

Guns 'n Roses ~ November Rain

MTV provided endless airplay of this epic big-budget video that was painstakingly written by Axel Rose. Pouring rain, a romantic wedding and finally a heart-wrenching funeral provided the perfect backdrop, and defines as one of the most memorable videos of all time.

The Boomtown Rats ~ I don't like Mondays

The Boomtown Rats ~ I don't like Mondays

Bob Geldof wrote "I don't like Mondays" after overhearing the news in a local radio station while doing an interview. The song goes on to describe the mindset of a 16 year old girl, Brenda Spencer, from San Diego, who chose to skip school, but then return to her high school, to aimlessly open fire with a loaded rifle. Killing 2 and injuring 9, she preceded to lead the police into a long drawn-out standoff. When finally asked "why", she was quoted as saying "I just started shooting, that's it. I just did it for the fun of it. I just don't like Monday's." Spencer's family tried to sue the Boomtown Rats and put a halt to it's airplay, and obvioiusly lost.

Marc Cohn ~ Walking in Memphis

Carly Simon originally discovered Marc Cohn and soon after, he won a Grammy for best new artist in 1991. "Walking in Memphis" was written by Cohn after watching an inspirational sermon given by Al Green. A song dedicated to the kindered spirit he felt to a beautiful city and goes on to paint a portrait that takes you along on a vivid journey.

The Fraye ~ How to Save a Life

The Fray ~ How to Save a Life

Isaac Slad, lead singer of the Fray, wrote this song about the helplessness he felt when working at a camp for at-risk youth and the many complexities of what they had to deal with. "How to Save a Life" started out a bit obscure when first released, but when it was featured in the introduction to the new season of "Grey's Anatomy", it soon gained momentum and quickly climbed the charts. This song gives a voice to so many people who struggle with painful experiences from a loved one's suicide to problems of drug addiction.

Five for Fighting ~ 100 Years

Five for Fighting ~ 100 Years

A song that condenses 100 years of living into the personal reflection of how important it is never to take anything for granted. It probably helps to be a little older and wiser to truly appreciate the magnitude of it's message. The piano use in this song is especially pure and incredibly sweet.

Fleetwood Mac ~ Sara

Fleetwood Mac ~ Sara

Stevie Nicks wrote "Sara" in 1978 with her close friend at the time. One of the more mainstream songs to come from Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" album and a favorite of their millions of fans, "Sara" became an alter-ego of Stevie's. When Stevie Nicks finally decided to enlist the help of the Betty Ford Clinic for her addiction to cocaine, she signed in using the name "Sara". Many beleive this song to be about a drama filled romance with Don Henley and the loss of their unborn child. Haunting, poetic and deeply personal.

The Beatles ~ Let it Be

Paul McCartney was inspired to write "Let it Be" after his mother Mary passed away when he was only 14. Later, Paul played this song at his wife Linda's funeral. Paul also wrote "The Long and Winding Road" on the same day, talk about a bolt of inspiration. John Lennon supposedly didn't like "Let it Be" due to it's subtle religious undertones, but Johnny Cash claimed it as one of this favorite songs. A song that's brought so much comfort to many in their saddest and darkest hours.

Supertramp ~ Goodbye Stranger

Supertramp ~ Goodbye Stranger

Some say it's a song about marijuana (Mary Jane) and some believe it to refer to finally ending the circuit of meaningless one-night stands, whatever the case may be, the use of electric piano here is awesome. One of those tunes that's hard to get out of your head. Supertramp's "Breakfast in America" was an overall brilliant album.

Queen ~ Bohemian Rhapsody

Queen ~ Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody is one of those songs that has been almost impossible to figure out. Translating the specific meaning has never been accomplished and finally doesn't seem to matter. It's been quoted as being basically "random rhyming nonsense" but also one of the most complex. Queen enjoyed conquering a whole new audience when it was featured in "Wayne's World" and again when it was re-released in Freddy Mercury's honor soon after his death in 1991. The song hits on so many different levels of emotion and is often referred as one of the most unique in style.

Elton John ~ Your Song

Elton John ~ Your Song

Elton John's very first single to hit the music charts and the first to co-write with his life-long writing partner Bernie Taupin. Bernie was only 17 at the time. "Your Song" has been performed at every Elton John concert since, and remains a massively favorite Elton song. It's one of the most simple and nostalgic love songs ever written and also one of the most covered songs.

Billy Joel ~ Piano Man

Billy Joel ~ Piano Man

Billy Joel wrote "Piano Man" from his own experiences working at a high end piano bar early in his career. He usually saves this song for his encores when touring and is probably most identified with it. Paul McCartney was once quoted saying that this is the song he would have most liked to have written. A sad song about regret of not having accomplished more in one's life, and finding the only true happiness at the bottom of a glass.

John Lennon ~ Imagine

John Lennon ~ Imagine

John Lennon posed the ultimate question to the world. Imagine a place where no material, religious or cultural differences existed. Idealistic, maybe, but seems to be more in tune today then ever before. Lennon was said to have written this song on a brown Steinberg piano, that George Michael later purchased for 2 million dollars. He eventually donated it to the Beatles Museum in Lennon's hometown of Liverpool. "Imagine" stands the test of time and along with Yoko at his side, remains Lennon's most controversial hits.

Jerry Lee Lewis ~ Great Balls of Fire

A writer mostly connected to Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell, wrote "Great Balls of Fire" for Lewis. Unfortunately, the song made it's way to airplay around the same time Lewis decided to marry his 13 year old cousin, Myra Gale Brown. Once public knowledge spread, Lewis fled England, where at the time he was working and forced his return to the United States. Through all the crazy happenings, you can't deny, this is one of the best uses of a piano in a song.

Stevie Wonder ~ Living for the City

The hardships of a poor young kid trying to find a better way. Moving up to the big city of New York, only to find a destructive life lost to drugs and prison. Ray Charles covered this song, and so this is an especially favored piano song for many. In 1974, Stevie Wonder won a Grammy for best song in the Rythym and Blues category.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        calvinpassal 

        12 months ago

        This is very interesting and they are great songs ever.

      • profile image

        Easy 

        15 months ago

        Bloody Well Right - Supertramp

      • profile image

        Matthew 

        23 months ago

        This is a very good list, but you should add Layla by Eric Clapton

      • profile image

        jsong 

        23 months ago

        Santana - treat

      • profile image

        James 

        2 years ago

        Rose Cousins "Go First"

      • profile image

        Alan 

        2 years ago

        Surprised no one has mentioned "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.

      • profile image

        jenna 

        5 years ago

        When I was your man by Bruno mars

      • profile image

        jay89 

        5 years ago

        great selection but i dont know how you could leave out New York State Of Mind~ Billy Joel

      • lioness91 profile image

        lioness91 

        6 years ago from Madison, Wi

        I love Clocks by Coldplay (as mentioned in this Hub). I actually learned to play that by ear while listening to it as it aired on tv when Coldplay played a show at Austin City Limits (in 2005).

        Last year I picked up the sheet music for Vienna by Billy Joel. I really like that one too.

        A newer one I'm looking at now (I'm about to download the sheet music for it, actually) is Back At Your Door by Maroon 5.

        Oh, and one of my favorites is The Nearness of You by Norah Jones.

      • profile image

        Piano Lover 

        6 years ago

        Tough Crowd out there.. he listed good songs, just too many to get to them all

      • profile image

        Piano Lover 

        6 years ago

        so many good songs to chose from ... Lionel Richie could easily been on here....

      • profile image

        Piano Lover 

        6 years ago

        all instrument are good, but Piano is the greatest!

      • profile image

        Tucker 

        6 years ago

        Nice list. Peter Usher (above commenter) rightly notes The The's "Uncertain Smile" should be on it. Jools Holland absolutely crushes the piano on that one. Since a Kate Bush song made the cut, it's only fair to put Tori Amos's "Cornflake Girl" on here too.

      • profile image

        mcchristion 

        6 years ago

        Good list. But I would nominate Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" for consideration. (In my opinion, Elton is/was a vastly underappreciated pianist, perhaps because his piano playing skills were overshadowed by other things.)

      • profile image

        bruznic 

        6 years ago

        treat of santana's first album is also an excellent piano song. and of course there are some ray charles songs that should be mentioned here in my comment, I really like Mess around and I've got a woman.so instead of all the hate comments here try to post songs you really like maybe we could learn a thing or two form each other...

      • profile image

        TJ 

        6 years ago

        As it is "featuring piano" not "featuring great piano players" or "technically great piano playing"...I'll give you a few of my favourites.

        The Cinematic Orchestra - To Build a Home

        Higher Love - James Vincent McMorrow

        Hoppípolla - Sigur Ros

        Like Spinning Plates (Live) - Radiohead

        The Great Gig in the Sky - Pink Floyd

        Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen

      • profile image

        hey man 

        7 years ago

        Awesome

      • profile image

        Alex 

        7 years ago

        You're kidding, right? Some of the entries on this list is insulting to pianists everywhere. Put on some real talents like Bruce Hornsby, Rick Wakeman, Ollie McGill, and get rid of Coldplay and The Fray. The Fray?! Come on! Jump, Van Halen? Jessica, Allman Brothers Band? A good riff/solo is about skill as well... Not just how popular the song is!

      • profile image

        bruznic 

        7 years ago

        november rain is even more ipmressive if you know that there is no orchestra in this song. it's all done on a keyboard. and there are real orchestra's in the world that sound a lot worse than this "fake" one ;)

      • profile image

        Ryan 

        7 years ago

        Nothing by Roy Bittan in there. No racing in the street, thunder road, paradise by the dashboard light, the fire inside and just about any other song he's played on and instead you have Clocks by Coldplay. Hilarious actually.

      • profile image

        Em Brown 

        7 years ago

        oh i love, piano man and daniel! i play piano and sing those songs all the time. can't wait to listen to the other choices. i have my 7 year old student learning lean on me, stand by me, and chasing cars by snow patrol.

      • profile image

        George 

        7 years ago

        Clocks by coldplay was just great, probably had the greatest piano riff in modern music.

      • profile image

        moscowjobnet 

        7 years ago

        some videos were deleted ^((((

      • profile image

        texasguy11363 

        7 years ago

        Where is Babe, by Styx?

      • profile image

        Kevin 

        7 years ago

        How does this have The Fray but not Vanessa Carlton? This is blasphemy!

      • nightflight9 profile image

        nightflight9 

        7 years ago from Scandinavia

        ( just adding)

        everytime we touch-cascada (slow wersion)

        Listen to your heart ( DHT)

      • nightflight9 profile image

        nightflight9 

        7 years ago from Scandinavia

        really good ones are:

        a thousand miles (vanessa)

        apoligize ( oneRepublic)

        everytime (britney)

        airplanes (BoB)

        love the way you lie ( rihanna )

        My immortal ( evanesence)

        som are in my hub also!

      • profile image

        Maria 

        7 years ago

        Wait for sleep, dream theater!

      • profile image

        Joe  

        7 years ago

        I can't believe there isn't any Lynyrd Skynyrd on here! Call Me The Breeze has one of the best piano solo's of any song ever, and Tuesday's Gone is just as good. Even Sweet Home Alabama is pretty fly...

      • profile image

        kri 

        7 years ago

        there are no new songs! i need new!

      • profile image

        Ben 

        7 years ago

        Why isn't bruce hornsby anywhere on this list?

      • profile image

        Peter Usher 

        7 years ago

        Listen to The The Unceratin Smile great piano playing in there by Jools Holland and it's not his usual boogie woogie style

      • profile image

        Maddie 

        7 years ago

        I love muse songs for the piano.

        Some are easy like Feeling good, and harder songs like Bitterflies and Hurricanes, which is beautiful.

        I know they are rock songs, but they have alot of classical elements, and the melodies are really musical and catchy.

      • profile image

        Jason 

        7 years ago

        Some more modernistic artists that might have been overlooked.

        Nickleback "If Everyone Cared"

        Rihanna "Unfaithful"

        Avril Ligvine "Innocence"

        Meatloaf "I would Do Anything For Love (But I wont do that)"

      • profile image

        Hooba 

        7 years ago

        B.O.B - Airplanes pt 2

        Evanescence - My Immortal

        Ft. Minor - Where'd You Go

        Christina Aguilera - Hurt

      • profile image

        Jonathan 

        7 years ago

        There should definitely be some Muse here, one great example is "Space Dementia" off their "Origin Of Symmetry" album.

      • profile image

        Pepe 

        8 years ago

        Ghinzu - The Dragster-Wave

      • profile image

        rony 

        8 years ago

        how about supergrass' alright? simple great and easy to play.

      • profile image

        nate 

        8 years ago

        Bridge Over Troubled Water?

      • profile image

        AndyC 

        8 years ago

        The 80's band Hothouse Flowers' single Don't Go has a fantastic piano score!

      • profile image

        Harrison 

        8 years ago

        thats just the way it is by bruce hornsby is a beautiful song listen to its great!!!!!!!!!!

      • profile image

        S. Hamed 

        8 years ago

        How is "Call me the breeze" not included on this list?

      • profile image

        hari 

        8 years ago

        check this out

        Allman Brothers Band - Jessica

        Beautiful piano part

      • profile image

        pankaj1718 

        8 years ago

        i like mj's human nature its the best song

      • profile image

        aditya 

        8 years ago

        nice list but you can also check these

        1- PACHELBEL CANNON

        2-RIVER FLOWS IN YOU...

      • profile image

        John 

        8 years ago

        i really liked this list. i am learning to play the keyboard and this has helped a lot.

      • profile image

        Alvin 

        8 years ago

        Desperado

      • profile image

        Jared 

        8 years ago

        great list. love seeing marc cohn as he is the greatest ever.

      • profile image

        Neil 

        8 years ago

        Some GREAT choices, I'm going to make a great playlist out of this. I would add one older song - Bryan Adam's - Everything I Do (I Do it For You), and two newer ones- Augustana's Boston and Pink's Glitter in the Air.

      • profile image

        Greg 

        8 years ago

        The Way it is by Bruce Hornsby should be added. The piano in that sond is ASTOUNDING

      • profile image

        RyanD 

        8 years ago

        wanna say "I'm coming home" or w/e by Ozzie a good pick up. I think motley crue did it to. anywho....

      • profile image

        Benita.E 

        8 years ago

        David Gray -- This year's love

      • profile image

        Lyn 

        8 years ago

        Great list...but how about some Bruce Hornsby? For starters, "The Way It Is," or Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence?" Or Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."(Bruce Hornsby plays the piano in all of them.)

      • profile image

        K.P.Pradeep 

        8 years ago

        I'm surprised Elton John's 'Someone saved my life tonight' and 'Tonight' doesn't figure in this list.

      • profile image

        kushal 

        8 years ago

        may i add 'goodbye philadelphia' by peter cincotti?!

        :P love it!

      • profile image

        Michael 

        9 years ago

        I urge you all to listen to a new up and coming artist named Jon Mclaughlin, he may be 'the next big thing' and patterns his music much like Billy Joel.

      • You-Evolution profile image

        You-Evolution 

        9 years ago

        This is a great list - I was looking for something like this - brilliant.

        A few suggestions

        Angels by Robbie williams

        Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

        A thousand miles - Vanessa Carlton

        No one Alica Keys

        Apologize - One republic

      • profile image

        Oisin Mahon 

        9 years ago

        Amazing loves them all

      • profile image

        Ben Wilson 

        9 years ago

        Nice List :) I've learnt about half of them so far :P

      • musicprof profile image

        musicprof 

        9 years ago from New Orleans

        Love 'Angel', 'Walking In Memphis" and "Let It Be". These are piano tunes that always bring out goosebumps on my skin. Superb list, summer10!

      • Cris A profile image

        Cris A 

        9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

        Can I add Tori Amos' Sleeps Like Butterfly? Or any of her songs for that matter? I would check out some of the albums you cited which I haven't listened to. Great hub :D

      • profile image

        Adam B 

        9 years ago

        Nice list, I was reading it to make sure you had Bohemian Rhapsody on there and you did!

      • profile image

        Sal 

        10 years ago

        LOVE LOVE LOVE this list!!!!! I too listened to every clip, and smiled/cried with every song choice!! Another BRILLIANT article summer10!!

      • summer10 profile imageAUTHOR

        summer10 

        10 years ago from my happy place :)

        Thank u Doug, I can't wait to check out your suggestions. "Your Song" is one of my alltime favorite songs. :)

      • DougsHub profile image

        DougsHub 

        10 years ago from Australia

        Great selection. I listened through each and every one. So many great piano songs. That particular Elton John performance of 'Your Song' rates as one of his best.

        Two more greats I love would be Michael Nyman - 'The Promise' or perhaps, Rowan Atkinson - 'The Piano Player' though for different reasons :)

        Thanks again summer10

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