Summer has been an online writer for over ten years. Her articles usually focus on music and entertainment.
The 20 Best Piano Songs
No other acoustic instrument can match the piano's expressive range, and no electric instrument can match its mystery. The piano is a timeless instrument that has led to some of the greatest songs of all time. Below are some of these incredible piano songs.
1. 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.
Life is like a piano....what you get out of it depends on how well you play it.
2. Sarah McLachlan–"Angel"
Sarah wrote this song in only a few hours with keyboardist Jonathan 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 relationship takes work, risk and a kept promise of commitment.
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.
7. 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.
8. 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 two and injuring nine, 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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 believe this song to be about a drama-filled romance with Don Henley and the loss of their unborn child. Haunting, poetic and deeply personal.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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 Rhythm and Blues category.
Stephen on March 06, 2020:
How can we forget "The Way it Is" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range?This is an undisputable classic piano song! The piano sings as much as Bruce!
Christopher Nowak on December 18, 2019:
CROCODILE ROCK (Elton John)?!
HOLD THE LINE (Toto)?!
Christopher Nowak on December 17, 2019:
RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES (Ian Thomas)?!
ishaalimtiaz17 on July 05, 2019:
Have you tried Gate Of Steiner?
calvinpassal on November 14, 2017:
This is very interesting and they are great songs ever.
Easy on August 24, 2017:
Bloody Well Right - Supertramp
Matthew on December 21, 2016:
This is a very good list, but you should add Layla by Eric Clapton
jsong on December 04, 2016:
Santana - treat
James on February 22, 2016:
Rose Cousins "Go First"
Alan on January 17, 2016:
Surprised no one has mentioned "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.
jenna on April 08, 2013:
When I was your man by Bruno mars
jay89 on January 11, 2013:
great selection but i dont know how you could leave out New York State Of Mind~ Billy Joel
lioness91 from Madison, Wi on April 06, 2012:
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.
Piano Lover on March 14, 2012:
Tough Crowd out there.. he listed good songs, just too many to get to them all
Piano Lover on March 14, 2012:
so many good songs to chose from ... Lionel Richie could easily been on here....
Piano Lover on March 14, 2012:
all instrument are good, but Piano is the greatest!
Tucker on March 04, 2012:
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.
mcchristion on February 26, 2012:
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.)
bruznic on December 27, 2011:
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...
TJ on December 10, 2011:
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
hey man on November 20, 2011:
Alex on November 19, 2011:
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!
bruznic on November 01, 2011:
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 ;)
Ryan on October 14, 2011:
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.
Em Brown on October 07, 2011:
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.
George on September 27, 2011:
Clocks by coldplay was just great, probably had the greatest piano riff in modern music.
moscowjobnet on September 10, 2011:
some videos were deleted ^((((
texasguy11363 on September 04, 2011:
Where is Babe, by Styx?
Kevin on August 08, 2011:
How does this have The Fray but not Vanessa Carlton? This is blasphemy!
nightflight9 from Scandinavia on July 06, 2011:
( just adding)
everytime we touch-cascada (slow wersion)
Listen to your heart ( DHT)
nightflight9 from Scandinavia on July 06, 2011:
really good ones are:
a thousand miles (vanessa)
apoligize ( oneRepublic)
love the way you lie ( rihanna )
My immortal ( evanesence)
som are in my hub also!
Maria on March 27, 2011:
Wait for sleep, dream theater!
Joe on March 18, 2011:
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...
kri on March 01, 2011:
there are no new songs! i need new!
Ben on February 15, 2011:
Why isn't bruce hornsby anywhere on this list?
Peter Usher on January 13, 2011:
Listen to The The Unceratin Smile great piano playing in there by Jools Holland and it's not his usual boogie woogie style
Maddie on December 27, 2010:
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.
Jason on December 26, 2010:
Some more modernistic artists that might have been overlooked.
Nickleback "If Everyone Cared"
Avril Ligvine "Innocence"
Meatloaf "I would Do Anything For Love (But I wont do that)"
Hooba on December 24, 2010:
B.O.B - Airplanes pt 2
Evanescence - My Immortal
Ft. Minor - Where'd You Go
Christina Aguilera - Hurt
Jonathan on December 07, 2010:
There should definitely be some Muse here, one great example is "Space Dementia" off their "Origin Of Symmetry" album.
Pepe on October 18, 2010:
Ghinzu - The Dragster-Wave
rony on October 05, 2010:
how about supergrass' alright? simple great and easy to play.
nate on September 10, 2010:
Bridge Over Troubled Water?
AndyC on September 01, 2010:
The 80's band Hothouse Flowers' single Don't Go has a fantastic piano score!
Harrison on August 21, 2010:
thats just the way it is by bruce hornsby is a beautiful song listen to its great!!!!!!!!!!
S. Hamed on August 02, 2010:
How is "Call me the breeze" not included on this list?
hari on July 06, 2010:
check this out
Allman Brothers Band - Jessica
Beautiful piano part
pankaj1718 on June 23, 2010:
i like mj's human nature its the best song
aditya on June 12, 2010:
nice list but you can also check these
1- PACHELBEL CANNON
2-RIVER FLOWS IN YOU...
John on June 04, 2010:
i really liked this list. i am learning to play the keyboard and this has helped a lot.
Alvin on June 03, 2010:
Jared on May 31, 2010:
great list. love seeing marc cohn as he is the greatest ever.
Neil on May 29, 2010:
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.
Greg on May 25, 2010:
The Way it is by Bruce Hornsby should be added. The piano in that sond is ASTOUNDING
RyanD on April 28, 2010:
wanna say "I'm coming home" or w/e by Ozzie a good pick up. I think motley crue did it to. anywho....
Benita.E on April 11, 2010:
David Gray -- This year's love
Lyn on January 08, 2010:
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.)
K.P.Pradeep on December 26, 2009:
I'm surprised Elton John's 'Someone saved my life tonight' and 'Tonight' doesn't figure in this list.
kushal on December 25, 2009:
may i add 'goodbye philadelphia' by peter cincotti?!
:P love it!
Michael on November 18, 2009:
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 on September 06, 2009:
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
Oisin Mahon on August 24, 2009:
Amazing loves them all
Ben Wilson on August 11, 2009:
Nice List :) I've learnt about half of them so far :P
musicprof from New Orleans on February 09, 2009:
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 from Manila, Philippines on December 08, 2008:
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
Adam B on December 08, 2008:
Nice list, I was reading it to make sure you had Bohemian Rhapsody on there and you did!
Sal on September 07, 2008:
LOVE LOVE LOVE this list!!!!! I too listened to every clip, and smiled/cried with every song choice!! Another BRILLIANT article summer10!!
summer10 (author) from my happy place :) on August 25, 2008:
Thank u Doug, I can't wait to check out your suggestions. "Your Song" is one of my alltime favorite songs. :)
DougsHub from Australia on August 25, 2008:
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