Wednesday, February 15, 2012

10 Best Piano Rock Songs

Chuck Berry was famously quoted as saying that the riff to Johnny B Goode was just Berry trying to copy what his piano player Johnnie Johnson was doing. The piano has always been at the heart of rock and roll and here are 10 giants of piano rock, in no particular order.
1. Old Time Rock and Roll - Bob Seger
The opening notes of this song are the 8 most famous piano notes in rock and roll. Since the 80's this riff has been synonymous with Tom Cruise's underwear. A great 3 chord banger that still rocks rooms to this day
2. Angry Young Man - Billy Joel
Trying to pick pick just one Billy Joel song for a list like this is impossible and this submission alone could inspire gigs and gigs of debate, but I'm going to go with Angry Young Man because of the prelude, an amazing display of technical skill but melodic and memorable at the same time. As fans well know, the entire Billy Joel catalog is full of classic piano riffs and trying to choose a favorite is difficult at best.
3. Benny the Bouncer - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Keith Emerson is hands down one of the best ever to use any sort of keyboard, piano, synthesizer, organ, if it had a keyboard on it Emerson could astound you with his skill on it. Benny the Bouncer is more of a rollicking barroom tune, not the complex classical-rock they were known for, but I included it because it's pure piano and his mastery of the ragtime style is another element to his playing the makes him such an all time master. The entire ELP catalog is filled with mind blowing keyboard fireworks and is worth listening to for any keyboard lover, but if you like rocking piano in particular, check this one out.
4. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Queen is another that had many songs with great piano parts. Freddy Mercury's virtuoso playing was sometimes overshadowed by his flamboyance as a singer and Brian May's layers of guitar. This song is so strange and brilliant, it has no chorus or any other typical song structure, yet, if you go into almost any bar in the world and play this song, people will know every word, even all the scara mouches and fandangos. The piano part is one of the most difficult you'll try to tackle in all of rock piano.
5. 1 Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces - Ben Folds
Ben Folds is a piano hero for Gen X and beyond, and his playing has appeal for people who love the classic stuff too. Trying to pick a favorite Ben Folds piano song is like picking your favorite child, I chose this one because of the great intro and the fast bassline that comes in about halfway through the song.
6. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
One of the, if not THE most popular song of all time. The opening notes to this song are instantly recognizable and will cause people from 8 to 80 to drop everything they're doing so they can belt out "Just a small town giirrrllll" The siren song quality of this riff that cause people to completely lose their minds is like no other riff in all of music. The chord progression to this song has been the basis of at least 50 major hit songs since it's release.
7. Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
The piano rock song that has stood the longest test of time, maybe it wasn't the first, but it is the one the lodged itself into people's brains as the original piano rocker. Jerry Lewis lit the piano on fire figuratively and literally, a true rock and roll madman. He gave us other early piano rock classics like, Breathless and Whole Lot o Shakin' Goin' On which have also stood the test of time very well.
8. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
Roy Bittan's piano has always been a feature in the Boss's music and the intro shows some of Bittan's best work. Imagine Springsteen's music without the drama that Bittan's piano lends to it, and Thunder Road has some of his most poetic playing.
9.Turn it On Again - Genesis
9a. Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
I had to include both because they sprang from the same well. These are both odd time riffs that don't feel like you're playing in an odd time.
10. Elton John - Burn Down the Mission
No piano rock list would be complete without Elton John, arguably the most successful piano rocker. Hits that you know across nearly 5 decades now. I picked Burn Down the Mission because it's unbelievably epic when they play it live, especially when Elton start rocking the piano. Like a lot of the guys on this list, Elton deserves a list all of his own, and narrowing it down to just 10 Elton songs would be difficult at best.
Honorable mentions to new artists keeping the piano in rock like Coldplay, Keane, Gavin Degraw
For another chance to hear some up and coming piano rockers check out Roaming Royalty
Click here to check out their single Chasing the Sun played live on 2 pianos
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