While many of the chord progressions
are overused, there's a reason so many different writers stick to them. For some reason, they just naturally seem to go together. Some of the best tunes are based on these, a few of which I will detail below. There are many songs to come before the overused chord progressions die off for something else. Eventually, our great-great grandkids will be into random industrial noises
, or listening to Laurie Anderson's Oh, Superman
over and over.
For example, consider the Major chord progressions, which are based on the Major scale (surprise!). The overused ones typically fall into a couple of standards.
- I-IV: Examples include Billy Joel's Just the Way You Are in D, and the Beatles' I Wanna Hold Your Hand in G. A typical chord progression is C to F.
- I-IV-V: Examples include the Beatles' Twist and Shout in F, and Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone in C. A typical chord progression is C to F to G.
- I-IImin-IIImin-IV: Examples include Bill Withers' Lean On Me and Dan Fogelberg's Longer. A typical chord progression is C to Dmin to Emin to F.
- I-V7-VImin-I5-IV-I3-IImin-V: Probably the best rambling example is Billy Joel's Piano Man.
- I-VImin-IImin-V: Examples include oldies like Please Mister Postman and Earth Angel. A typical chord progression is C to Amin to Dmin to G. There are several different variations, such as I-IImin-VImin-IV-V and IIImin-VImin-IImin-V.
So, we can see some excellent songs in these progressions, and these are not what I'd consider fluff tunes (sorry, Blink182 fans). Just because the framework looks like every other house doesn't mean you can't create a unique abode for yourself. That's the real difference between folks who write fluff and those who are remembered after their albums are long gone from the charts.
Disclosure: I am a member of ASCAP, but not a professional musician (any more).