Sometimes a good singalong is the perfect accompaniment to an evening around the campfire. It lifts the mood, brings both friends and strangers together, and gives you a chance to impress everyone with your amazing music skills.
But you can’t just sing any song, there are some songs that just work around the campfire. It needs to be easily recognizable so everyone can join in but also fit and enhance the mood.
This is where we come in, we’ve gathered 40 perfect songs which are guaranteed to work in any sing along session, or around any campfire. So you can be sure the songs you spend your time learning are the best ones for the situation.
- American Pie by Don McLean
- Take me Home Country Roads by John Denver
- Hotel California by The Eagles
- Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
- Stand by Me by Ben E. King
- Wonderwall by Oasis
- Heart of Gold by Neil Young
- Hey Jude by The Beatles
- House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals
- Let It Be by The Beatles
- Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
- California Dreamin by The Mamas and the Papas
- Daydream Believer by The Monkees
- Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
- Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
- Margaritaville By Jimmy Buffet
- Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel
- Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by The Beatles
- Our House by Crosby Stills Nash & Young
- Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
- With or Without You by U2
- Zombie by The Cranberries
- Africa by Toto
- All I Have to Do is Dream by The Everly Brothers
- Blowin’ In The Wind by Bob Dylan
- Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
- Come As You Are by Nirvana
- What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen
- Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) by Harry Belafonte
- Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
- Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
- Boulevard Of Broken Dreams by Green Day
- Californication by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
- Campfire Song Song From Spongebob Squarepants
- Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis
- Drive by Incubus
- I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
American Pie by Don McLean
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If you could only have 1 song which you are allowed to play at a campfire for the rest of your life, this should be it! With an absolutely iconic hook that everyone is going to be able to join in with. It’s also easily adapted into different styles. Is it late in the night? Play it a little slower or softer, early in the morning? Play it fast and lively.
The versatility of the song really comes from the fact it’s just using nice open chords with a comfortable strumming pattern. And you can just play it at whatever BPM is feeling good for you at that moment. It’s a really easy and accessible song, so even if you’re a beginner you should face no issues.
Take me Home Country Roads by John Denver
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Seldom will you find a melody that presents the right mood and fits with the chords quite as exquisitely as Country Roads. A guaranteed winner that’s always going to catch people’s attention and make them want to sing along. The song itself is one of John Denver’s biggest selling singles that has enjoyed prolonged success and is still popular today.
The song uses a lot of single note passages, but don’t worry! They are all quite comfortable to play and sing to at the same time. The overall picking sequence remains stable through the song allowing you to sink into the groove. And even then it’s very easy to just strum the simple G, D, Em, and C progression as straight chords so you can focus on singing.
Hotel California by The Eagles
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Another great song to learn due to its sheer level of popularity, it’s a song everybody knows and can sing along to. It’s been used in a wide range of popular media including The Big Lebowski and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It’s also been certified as 3x platinum in the US for digital downloads.
This song contains some fairly fast single note lines, but all the chord shapes are quite comfortable to hold. But just in case, there are plenty of ‘chordified’ versions of the song around where some of the more difficult parts have been exchanged for easier to play strummed chords, so regardless of your skill level this is a solid one to learn.
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
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A song that carries an incredible amount of emotion, with its moving vocal melody and soul-stirring chord progression, this is guaranteed to set the mood right around the campfire. Originally released in 1984 as a single from his ‘Various Positions’ album, the song received a second wind and additional exposure to a new generation because of its prominent use in the hit movie ‘Shrek’.
The song has a nice and steady rhythm, and although many of the chords are arpeggiated they are slow enough that even those completely new to the instrument shouldn’t be afraid to dive right in. The chord progression for the song, although simple, carries with it a lot of emotional weight, the lyrics even call out their movement with ‘The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift’.
Stand by Me by Ben E. King
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While at first glance you might not consider this a ‘campfire song’ in the traditional sense. But in fact, it does hit all the fundamentals you look for with its memorable songwriting and emotive melodies. Originally released in 1961, the song has enjoyed continued success due to its cultural significance and the myriad of cover versions and adaptations which have been created by other, equally popular, artists.
The song has a great groove to it and is one of the few ‘campfire appropriate’ songs that aren’t driven primarily by strummed or arpeggiated chords. Instead, your thumb will be playing more of a bass role which sets a wonderful groove that is sure to pull the audience in. And even though the rhythm uses some groovy pauses and accents on the off beat, the vocals sync up with it perfectly which makes it very comfortable to play.
Wonderwall by Oasis
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You knew it was coming, the quintessential campfire song that every aspiring guitarist, busker (or anyone at a party that manages to get their hands on a guitar) is going to immediately start playing. One of Oasis’s biggest singles from the 1995 album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. Which has been certified as 5x platinum in the UK and to this day is still considered one of the band’s most popular songs, so you can be sure everyone will know the lyrics!
As is typical for the style of guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher, the song uses some very effective chord voicings that can achieve a lot with only a small amount of ‘messing around’ on the fretboard. For the most part, your ring and pinky finger will stay planted on the top two strings 3rd frets, leaving you free to just focus on the other two fingers. Especially helpful for any beginners if you are not used to singing and playing guitar at the same time!
Heart of Gold by Neil Young
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Another one that while not a traditional campfire song per-se, it does carry a fantastic atmosphere that will compliment any sing along. So even if your audience doesn’t know the lyrics, it carries enough musical intrigue to completely carry your performance. Originally released in 1972 as a promotional single for the album ‘Harvest’, hitting number 1 on 3 US charts including the Billboard Hot 100, which helped Neil’s exposure to a more mainstream audience.
The song uses just a few simple, open chords which are in the progression of Em, C, D, and G. There’s also a little bit of bluesy flair thrown in with some minor pentatonic hammer-ons, but nothing that will make it overly challenging for even a beginner.
Hey Jude by The Beatles
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As the number 1 selling band of time, of course, The Beatles deserve a spot on any list of great campfire songs. No other group has produced such catchy pop songs which have shaped the culture surrounding music quite like The Beatles. Hey Jude is a monstrously popular single by them selling over 8 million copies worldwide and was named by NME Readers roll as ‘the best song of the year’ for 1968.
The song is about as easy as they come when it comes to the guitar, and although there are a lot of barre chords that need some forearm strength to hold for a long period of time, all the positions are very comfortable and the rhythm should pose no challenge for even a beginner.
House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals
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The House of the Rising Sun is originally a folk tune that has been adapted many times by many artists. But by far the most prominent is the version by British blues/rock band The Animals. It charted at the number 1 spot in both the US Single and Billboard 100 charts, selling more than 600 copies in the UK alone. The song tells the story of someone living in New Orleans whose life has gone awry, urging others to not go down the same path.
The song has a very interesting ‘rake’ or sometimes called a ‘sweep’ during the main motif of the song, this is where instead of playing each note with alternate picking (up, down, up down, etc). You will instead just drag the pick down all of the strings, (up, up, up) this might feel a little unusual at first but it’s a great way to produce notes quickly without too much effort.
Let It Be by The Beatles
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The Beatles were obviously going to make an appearance more than once on this list. From their twelfth (and final) studio album, Paul McCartney wrote this after having a dream related to his mother’s passing. While he says the song is open for the listener to interpret, the lyrical meaning of the song and the emotional resonance it has with the listener is something that makes it perfect for those quieter campfire moments.
The song is very slow at 72bpm and will feel more like a ballad to play, the original was played with a full band but is very easily translated to a single acoustic guitar. You will also find an alternate version called the ‘naked version’ which is a little more stripped down that might be more appropriate for your needs.
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
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With an instantly recognizable and iconic opening melody, if everyone isn’t gathered around the campfire already, they will be after hearing the first few bars of this song. Released in 1974 as a promotional single for their second album ‘Second Helping’.
The song opens with the iconic melody which uses a little bit of string skipping and muted notes to get the groove going, but it’s nothing too taxing. There’s also a lot of classic rock use of fourth intervals, power chords, and a clearly defined bassline which translates excellently to the acoustic guitar and to any sing along scenario.
Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
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Another great one to help set the mood of your campfire jam session, a song that reminisces about a former lover. It was recorded and released in 1967 as a promotional single for the album ‘Blowin’ Your Mind!’. It charted at the number 10 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and went platinum in both the UK and US.
This one will perhaps provide a nice reprieve from the slew of regular strummed chords as it contains a lot of lead lines played higher up the fretboard. It also uses a lot of third intervals which will require you to do position shifting around the neck. Feel free to pick and choose the lead part you want to use as there are steady chords playing underneath all these leads so you can easily swap around and play them instead at any point you wish.
California Dreamin by The Mamas and the Papas
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Although you may already be familiar with California Dreamin through its various interpretations from other bands such as the famous Beach Boys version. The song was originally written by John and Michelle Phillips as a promotional single for The Mamas and the Papas album ‘If you Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears’. The song ranked in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, taking the no. 89 spot.
The song has a little bit of everything, some cool single note melodies as well as a catchy and upbeat chord progression which is mostly just using open chords. The rhythmic strumming is a little involved and has a lot of energy, so be sure to check the tab to get the pace correct.
Daydream Believer by The Monkees
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One of the greats from the ’60s, the Monkees are one of the best selling bands of all time with 75 million in sales worldwide. But their music is completely timeless so even today their music is still easily recognizable and can take a spot in any campfire jam session. This was a single from their hit album ‘The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees’ and is a very simple and effective ballad.
Originally played with a full band and electric guitar, the song translates over as a solo acoustic piece exceptionally well. There’s a nice collection of great sounding chords which are all played with a nice and simple strumming pattern. Nothing too technically involved so it’s a great choice for a beginner to dive into.
Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
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With a great number of hit singles under his name and over 80 million albums sold throughout his career, Tom Petty is a solid choice for any acoustic jam session. Free Fallin’ is one of his most famous tracks, also being ranked in Rolling Stone’s greatest songs of all time, and has appeared in several highly successful TV shows and movies. It has also been covered by various artists including a rendition from the legendary John Mayer.
The song makes heavy use of the suspended chord with the progression F, Fsus, F, Csus. It’s played at a pretty slow bpm of 84 and has a nice steady so is not particularly taxing to play. Once you have the primary motif down it repeats for the entirety of the song, so there’s not a great deal of music you need to commit to memory.
Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
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A perfect song for getting everyone singing along, with an incredibly catchy and infectious chorus that many will already know the words for. Making it a fantastic choice for your performance. The song is one of Bon Jovi’s biggest singles with the official music video sitting close to a billion views on YouTube, and it also hit the number 1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Originally more of a rock song intended for a full band, but it has been translated to a solo acoustic guitar very well with a clearly defined chord progression that you can follow. Although it’s not shown on the attached tab you may want to play the opening motif as a bassline before jumping into the chords as that is something that will instantly hook people as they will easily recognize what song it is.
Margaritaville By Jimmy Buffet
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Margaritaville is a song about the relaxed and laid-back lifestyle that comes with living in a tropical climate. It has a very relaxing and free vibe through the song, absolutely perfect for any beach campfire music session. The single itself is one of Jimmy Buffet’s biggest songs and probably his most recognized too.
For this song, you will be playing a bassline that jumps between your lowest three strings, and in between that bassline, you’ll be strumming some chords on the higher strings. It sounds complicated but once you get the feel for the song down it will become very easy and natural to play. But it’s a great opportunity to learn a piece where your single acoustic guitar takes on the role of multiple instruments to create more of a full band feel.
Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel
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A very recognizable song that is sure to have your audience chiming in on as you play. This song emerged after movie director Mike Nichols fell in love with the duo’s music and hired them to write 3 songs for his upcoming film. The 3rd of which was a then working version of what would eventually be fleshed out into Mrs. Robinson. The single went on to receive two Grammy Awards.
The song itself has some great vocal hooks which are sure to captivate the listener. But instrumentally a few incarnations are floating around for the song, some of which use straight strummed chords which might be better for the beginning musician. But if you’re up for it there are some more intricate finger picked styles around which can make your playing sound a little more engaging.
Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by The Beatles
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From The Beatles album of the same name. While it wasn’t released as a single, so didn’t have the opportunity to chart, it is still considered a popular song despite some of the criticism it’s received for its almost silly lightheartedness. But many of us believe that’s where the whole charm of the song lies in the first place!
You’ll be following the progression A, E, D, which you’ll be playing for the majority of the song. With the only exception being on the chorus where a slightly more difficult to hold F#m chord is thrown in for just a second. The original uses a capo on the first fret, but it might be a little easier to sing to if you drop the key of the song a semitone and just play without the capo.
Our House by Crosby Stills Nash & Young
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This song carries a mood and emotion that will make people feel at ease, capturing the bliss of an ordinary moment of happiness, and is the perfect complement to any campfire music session to settle the mood and bring everyone together. Written by British songwriter Graham Nash and released in 1970, the song charted on 4 US charts and is a favorite amongst fans.
While every song on this list is easy to play, this one sits on the even easier side of the spectrum as it’s at a very slow and relaxing pace and only uses nice and simple chords. This is a song you can take your time with and focus more on the mood than the technicalities of the performance.
Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
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A timeless classic that will never go out of style, ranked in Rolling Stone’s top Greatest Songs of All Time. This was by far Johnny’s biggest single, originally written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore, and is about how June experienced falling in love with Johnny at that time. Johnny would then take the songwriting and adapt it to his own style which then went on to become a legendary song.
It has a bit of a mariachi flair which is reflected in the strumming pattern and time signatures as there are some less commonly used bar measures. But nothing that will pose any challenge for even the beginning guitarist.
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
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The title track from the album of the same name and released in 1975. Wish You Were Here was actually receiving mixed reviews from critics, with them finding the music not as iconic and too safe when put side by side with their previous works. But this sentiment has changed over time, with many long term Pink Floyd fans considering it some of their best work.
This was originally written for a full band setting, but it has been adapted into both strummed and fingerstyle versions, so you can pick which one is most appropriate for your skill level. The song has a repeating intro before moving into a more regular chord progression which is then maintained for the duration of the song.
With or Without You by U2
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This is the main promotional single from U2’s album ‘The Joshua Tree’ which ended up becoming one of their best selling singles and a number 1 hit in both the UK and the US. Going 2x platinum and topping the US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Album Rock Tracks charts.
While the original uses acoustic drums and electric guitar slathered in effects, the acoustic version is much simpler and easier to play. The four chords you’ll be using are D, A, a Bm barre chord (although if you check the attached video lesson there is an easier open variation shown) and finally, a G. Once you have those four chords down you’re good to go for the entire song!
Zombie by The Cranberries
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This is the biggest single by Irish alternative rock/grunge band The Cranberries. The song discusses and honors the memory of the two people who were unfortunately killed in the 1993 Warrington bombings. The song went platinum in multiple European countries and charted at the number 1 spot in both Europe and Australia.
Like many songs on this list where simplicity is key to making it accessible around the campfire and not being too demanding to play from a technical perspective. The song just uses the same four chords which are all open and are played using the same strumming pattern, leaving you free to put more attention to the vocal performance.
Africa by Toto
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Hopefully, you already knew this song would be here, an absolute classic that has been able to sustain both relevance and success due to its frequent use in internet memes as well as its very popular adaption by Frog Leap Studios. The song has sold a staggering 6 million copies in the US and hit the number 1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
There are a few adaptations of the song floating around, some learning towards simple strummed chords and others tackling some of the lead lines using more of a fingerstyle approach. Feel free to pick whichever one is appropriate for your skill level. The most important thing is that opening motif which uses, A, G# into a C# barre chord.
All I Have to Do is Dream by The Everly Brothers
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One of the classics, The Everly Brothers would exquisitely strike a balance between rock, country, and pop to make some of the most memorable songs around. It was famously recorded in just 2 takes, something that is seldom done these days in a recording environment and which required incredible skill to execute.
So an important thing to remember is because of the slightly rough edges of the original recording, some of the guitars are recorded a little flat which will make it challenging to play over the original song. Luckily the chord progressions and strumming sequences are very simple meaning you should have no problems committing them to memory, circumventing the need to play over the original track.
Blowin’ In The Wind by Bob Dylan
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Both a prolific songwriter and stellar musician, being able to weave deep meanings into songs that appealed to a wide audience. Many of his songs would have a significant cultural impact and Blowin’ In The Wind was one of his most popular singles ever. The song essentially puts forth rhetorical questions about the nature of war and conflict. The song entered the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.
It’s at a nice and slow BPM, and essentially has a moving bass line underneath with strummed chords above it. While the chords are very easy to hold, do try to make sure the bass notes come through clearly and are picked somewhat hard.
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
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While technically more of a rock or alternative band that uses electric guitars with many wet effects, this is a song that holds a lot of atmosphere and works incredibly well when translated to the acoustic as a solo piece. The song itself was a huge success in the UK. In fact, it was the most played song of the 21st century and has sold over 4 million copies.
While the original is played on an electric guitar using a lot of reverb, because of the tonality and nature of the acoustic guitar, the natural resonance is still able to carry the feel of the song well. The key here is to make sure your notes are nice, clear, and sustained and you are not choking anything. Check the provided tab for the version specifically for an acoustic guitar.
Come As You Are by Nirvana
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Come As You Are is a song many people will be familiar with from our rebellious teen years listening to alternative grunge music. And while the original was of course played by a full band using an electric guitar, Nirvana did also make a rendition called the ‘unplugged’ version proving that the song works just as well as a solo acoustic piece.
When you play this on an acoustic around the campfire you will essentially play the exact same notes as you would on an electric, just be sure to hit the notes clearly and with a fair bit of force. Because you’re not playing full chords you’ll need that extra volume so everyone can hear you.
What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes
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What’s Up is the second single from 4 Non Blondes second album titled ‘ Bigger, Better, Faster, More!’. Although written before the formation of the band, it nevertheless went on to become one of their biggest singles, reaching the number 11 spot on the pop charts. Considered an alternative pop/rock song, it’s still one that carries a great vibe and works perfectly in a campfire setting.
Although there are some single note guitar melodies played on an electric, there are clearly discernible guitar chords underneath which you can play on the acoustic. Those parts are all played at a comfortable bpm just using some very simple open and barre chords making this easily accessible for beginners.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen
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Always a great choice for any campfire setting, Queen has so many memorable songs and vocal hooks, they’re a guaranteed way of getting your audience engaged. Now while many of their songs are a little more rock orientated and therefore a bit more involved when playing on an acoustic, Crazy Little Thing Called Love was designed specifically for acoustic.
It has a fairly high and up beat tempo, but not to worry as all the chords are nice and easy. The song has a lot of personality and small inflections that add to the interest of the song, there are some single note lines worked into the chords and some staccato muting on the chorus.
Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) by Harry Belafonte
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This is a song many people will recognize from the hit Tim Burton film ‘Beetlejuice’. It has a purposely catchy and infectious chorus which is designed to make everyone want to join in and sing along. Although popularised by Harry, it was originally a song sung by laborers to signify their working day had finished and they wanted to go home.
Although there are many renditions of the song around, including ones with some quite complicated picking patterns which might be good if you have some good technical proficiency. If you want the nice and simple version you only need to know 2 chords which are F and C7.
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
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One of the all-time great songwriters known for producing a slew of successful No. 1 singles. And has even been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Sweet Caroline in particular being one of his biggest and most memorable efforts going platinum in the US and charting in the top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
While the song does have an easy chord progression, there is also a lead guitar motif playing over the top. You can find renditions that incorporate this lead part together with the chords, but it is a little more technically demanding to play. But the chord only version works just as well!
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
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There is no shortage of Queen songs that work great in a campfire setting. The nature of their iconic and memorable choruses compel the audience to join in making them extremely effective. Bohemian Rhapsody in particular with parts of the song that purposely trade off between the singer and audience make it an exquisite song to add to your repertoire.
The main challenge with this is that it’s quite technically demanding, both the guitar parts and the vocal arrangement are quite involved and require a fair amount of skill to execute properly. So this is ideal for anyone looking for a bit of a challenge!
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams by Green Day
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Green Day were the original quintessential punk rock band, known for fast drum beats and high octane electric guitars. But as their commercial success skyrocketed they began to explore more commercial and even ballad like songs. With this song in particular becoming massively successful with the official music video sitting at 586 million views on YouTube.
Exceptionally easy to play with primarily just a 4 chord progression. The original song has a capo on the first fret, but if you don’t have one available it’s very easy to just sing the song a semitone lower. There are some versions around which incorporate the melodies into the chords if you’re looking for something a bit more technically challenging.
Californication by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
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This is one of the main singles from their album of the same name. As many popular songs that the Chilli Peppers have that make great campfire songs, Californication, in particular, works well because of its popularity. It’s one of their more successful songs and is one they will play live very consistently. It went 5x platinum in the US selling over 5 million copies.
The song has a really simple and easily recognizable opening guitar motif that is sure to pique the interest of listeners. Once you have that down all that’s left is some very easy open chords that just jump between Am and Fmaj7.
Campfire Song Song From Spongebob Squarepants
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Everybody loves Spongebob! So it’s great that they literally have a song specifically made for a campfire sing along. This was used on “The Camping Episode” and has a great, light hearted tone which is sure to get the audience smiling and laughing. You can even find this song on SpongeBob’s Greatest Hits album which has sold over 373,000 copies in the US!
Designed as a quintessential campfire sing along song, the guitar work is very typical for what you might expect for the style. Using some with a little bit of minor pentatonic hammer ons thrown in for some flair. Nothing too challenging so you can just have fun with it!
Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis
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Another classic from Oasis which was another successful single from the ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ album. Considered a quintessential single of theirs which they played at almost every live performance. It has a very catchy and infectious chorus which makes it ideal for any sing along.
In typical Noel Gallagher fashion, the chords are all simple and easy to hold but are always voiced interestingly and are wonderful at creating a little musical intrigue. The original is played with a full band and there is an electric guitar solo, but Noel often performs this as a solo acoustic piece so you can be sure it works great in that context.
Drive by Incubus
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If you ever frequented music TV channels such as MTV back in the early 2000s, you should remember this song. Drive is Incubus’s highest charting song and a favorite amongst fans. It’s generally considered the song that allowed them to break through into a larger market and it charted in the top 10 in 6 separate US charts.
The guitar section for this song has some very nice and colorful chord voicings that are no more difficult to play than regular barred chords. It can be quite a challenge to sing and play the guitar part at the same time so if you have a partner available to sing the lyrics it might ease the technical demand. Alternatively, you can adjust the strumming pattern to be a bit simpler.
I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
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Originally released as part of a small EP and was regularly played as part of Jason’s live setlist. It had become much loved by fans and through this popularity, it was then re-released on his ‘We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things’ album. The single was massively successful garnering over 12 million in digital streams and charted for a whopping 76 weeks in the top 100.
This is one of the few songs that uses triplet timing, it has a nice and comfortable strumming pattern where you will be using the chords B, F#, G#m, and E. This motif continues for the majority of the song until the chorus where the strumming becomes a bit more regular. It’s very easy to remember and a lot of fun to play!