October Ovation: Top Pop Hits

Do your students like to listen to current pop hits from Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Charlie Puth and others? This month, we invite you to take a “color tour” through the Hits, featuring top pop artists.

Our first lesson with Dr. Faber is a twofer with “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande, and “Fake Love” by BTS. Both songs share the same three chords: F, G, and Am. We sometimes catch criticisms of popular music for “only having three chords.” But composers like Beethoven, Chopin, Beach—those we hold dear to our hearts—essentially composed within a three-chord paradigm: tonic (I/i), subdominant (IV/iv), and dominant (V). It’s what the creators do within this basic outline that makes the music sound fresh, interesting, and emotive.

Watch the video to see how these two masters of pop music invent within their three-chord paradigm. Maybe follow with your own jam session, putting these three chords to work in your studio as an exercise in creativity and “coolness.”

New to our Hits books? Explore the series, including ShowTime (Level 2A), ChordTime (Level 2B), FunTime (Levels 3A-3B), and BigTime (Level 4 and above).

3 replies on “October Ovation: Top Pop Hits”

  • Thanks Randy! Timely, as I am teaching my Theory students about triads and now they will want to sing and play the triads for me in class! Will keep the book in mind as well for other students

  • Great!! Love how Randall can analyze an Ariana Grande song and I’m sure, in the same breathe, a Rachmaninov piece, lol! But, seriously, this is the way you have to break these songs down for the kids to show that there is no mystery to the structure and the way songs are composed. It is simple and they can understand and even write a song on their own.

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