What is the most annoying chord progression you are tired of hearing?

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For me it's the pop-punk chord progression: I V vi IV which i hear in every single mainstream pop song on the radio! Especially in the most annoying genre of today, reggaeton. I swear in every reggaeton song I hear this chord progression and nothing else! Why can't they use I V ii IV or even VI vi V I instead? Hmm I might consider in issuing a challenge about this!

Oh, I kind of like the I - V - vi - IV. It's so smooth and nice. Maybe that's why it's so popular. I don't know why but I've always felt that it's kind of "feminine" chord progression, especially in mainstream pop. But yes, it has been used for years and years now. I get it if someone says it's boring or irritating. I just wonder what was the hit that started it? With or without you by U2 maybe? That came out 1987! Smile

I was going to say that I like every chord progression, but I don't like much IV - V - vi - vi. It feels so dumb somehow.

12 bar blues I IV I IV I V IV I V. Bad enough that it's totally overused. Why do 98% of the lyrics have to be cliché?

I think 12 bar blues is often more a vehicle for the improv solo, and I-V-vi-IV has been around since tonal harmony had rules and longer, so blame Bach. I've never really had it in for a progression. It's one of the ingredients in a song and it might be used a lot, but as long as the other ingredients are fresh I'm cool. Let's be honest... there are only so many chord progression combinations that work. I mean they tried to do away with tonal harmony completely, but have you ever listened to truly 12-tone? Blech!

So there you go... 12 tone chord progressions. Hate those.

I used to get annoyed by I V vi IV, but it works so freaking well, I no longer care.

It's a little like being annoyed by sentences that have a subject followed by a verb, followed by an object. A lot of times that's just the easiest way to say something, and I'd rather spend my time finding more interesting things to say than performing grammatical gymnastics.

My most recent song, *18768, was for a GYAWS challenge. Each of us was to write a song using only two chords. It was challenging, people came through with really interesting stuff, despite the limitation. I feel like I learned a lot from the challenge, so I'll recommend a related one: If you (whoever is reading this) hate a particular chord progression, force yourself to write a song using it. Maybe your other songwriting senses will grow stronger to compensate for the freedom to play with chords.

@katpiercemusic I fully agree with you. I wasn't exactly sure what 12 tone chord progression is so I looked it up. I think what the man said is that you must play all 12 tones before starting again. That would be like I I. I could be wrong and just let me know. I prefer old school harmony every time.

Below is a video (its good) that explains 12 tone progression. The internet was slow for me on this video. Therefore, I have a program that can download video and I did the download. I want to watch it again.


@jcollins, yep you're pretty much correct. They were bored with standard tonal harmony and they wanted to come up with something new. I can totally respect that. But they threw out all the rules instead of tweaking the ones they had. They used a tone row (the order in which all 12 tones must appear before beginning the row again). The problem with that is that we need to hear patterns in order to understand things, and retain them. They figured after listening to 12 tone music for a while people would start to hear the patterns, but for the most part, they never did. I've only ever met a couple of people that claim that they understand 12-tone music. It didn't help that people immediately started bending the rules of composition for 12-tone either, I'm sure.

@Mel Gargamel that reminds me of a story a friend once told me. He was very close with Pete Seeger and I can't remember the exact context, but I think someone was interviewing Pete and razzing him about how folk musicians only use 3 chords and Pete told him "No, you've got it all wrong. A good folk song only has 2 chords." My friend was probably picking on me because sometimes I like to use all the chords, but that's okay. [@Chip Winthrow] did a pretty awesome 1 chord song and has inspired me to push myself towards simplicity at some point this challenge.

Interesting comments to an interesting element. I've been wondering how I could answer this, so, have waited, read, thought some more...

It's not the Progressions, it's the use.

-- For some, reasons, to date, I've never warmed up to "Rock-a-billy" (spelling?), or Opera. The cadences do nothing but, unsettle me, so to speak, in no "good" direction (define good).

Other than that, I get tired of all musical "styles" efforts, after about 10 - 15 min (old vinyl album length?, brain washed unwittingly ala 1975 : ) ? )

Then, I just gotta, pick from the bottom of the pile and restack'em. However, to clarify, until much later in life, never "bought" music, didn't care to, could not tell you the words to the music, and mostly just the music was "it" for me. (Kinda like in another post here somewhere, -- I only "recently", "realized" the krappe, I was playing to (lyrics), my "1 5 power chords via my Earth Head, to 4 - 12 Bottom", etc. A great comment followed in that post, --something about, lyrics, only being the bridge/placeholder to the next Note anyway, or something like that. Made sense there, at the time : )

For me it has to be the oddball, "just because I can" chord progressions that don't really work in any musical sense! Great example someone mentioned...a one chord "chord progression"! These oddities are useful as challenge experiments but IMHO rarely produce something I'd actually choose to listen to.

Can't say I have issues with any particular chord progression. I think songs are so much more than just the progression or just the lyrics. Cliches or not, it's the way the artist works with them that makes the difference for me. And I'm with @johnstaples on the "just because I can" chord progressions. I don't generally find those enjoyable.

Rhythm, melody, arrangement all matter more, imo. How many times have you heard a song done in a completely new way. The bluegrass versions of heavy metal. The 50's standards versions of pop songs by the postmodern jukebox group. The big band versions of 80's songs. Same exact song, completely new (and interesting in comparison) take.

That being said, I've been using chord progressions over and over without changing up those other elements and they do sound pretty old and tired.

@tcelliott I think as songwriters, we become bored with ourselves faster than we become bored with other music. We get in that rut and find it hard to get out of it. That's why listening to others, experimenting, changing instruments, and even forcing ourselves to use chord progressions that we are uncomfortable with are so important to becoming more versatile a keeping out own interest in writing.

I've used the chord progressions mentioned above many, many times - and I can still find a way to keep them interesting. As for the progression mentioned in the original post, it has been used in so many memorable ways - "Wagon Wheel" (Old Crow Medicine Show), "Any Way You Want It," (Journey), "No Woman No Cry" (Bob Marley). I'm sure you could make a playlist of I V vi IV songs to listen to all day and not get bored.
12 bar blues - tougher to make that all-day playlist, maybe, because those songs tend to be blues, rock, or country. But there's a lot of sonic difference between "Call Me the Breeze" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Honky Tonk Blues" by Hank Williams, and "Hound Dog" by either Elvis or Big Mama Thornton.
I love bluegrass music, but I can only listen to so much in one sitting, not so much because of the chord progressions (which do tend to repeat) but because the instruments used are usually so similar from song to song, and so many of the songs follow similar solo break patterns. As a banjo picker, I like to seek out for my listening banjo used in non-bluegrass settings.
There was some talk above of one-chord songs, too - including a nice shout-out to me! I try to do one every FAWM and 50/90. But mine aren't really one-chord because I play variations of the main chord with 7th and 4th notes and such thrown in. And other songs you might think of as one chord ("Low Rider" by War, for example) are probably doing something like what I do around that one chord. (Now I'm tempted to write a true one-chord song - same chord, played same way. Could it work?)

@Chip Withrow "a true one-chord song - same chord, played same way. Could it work?" Now that is a difficult challenge. Would require some very interesting rhythms and melody to keep it from being boring.

I can see that the pop chord progression can turn into something good but I rarely see it happen. Especially from typical pop artists.

I don't know too much about 12 tone but I guess it can be used as some type vehicle of to getting interesting chords developed for a song. I think pretty much everyone thinks 12 tone sounds terrible.

As for one chord or two chord progression well I haven't heard too much of those nowdays. But I don't think those ever bothered me. However I could never try them out, they will get too repetitive for me to use and my songs will also come out super short. Lol

As for the 12 bar blues, well I can see it getting annoying too however it hasn't bother me as much as the pop-punk chord progression. However I prefer the the alternate bar versions instead of the usual 12 bar, it sounds more refreshing to my ears.

As for the "I can do anything" chord progression, well...I actually wrote a song that had something similar to that affect, "Piercing Lawmaker". However it was for a challenge I made a month ago, "week 3 Random chord challenge revised" . On that challenge I gave out a website that would give you random notes, and you would select seven random notes and make song out of them! It was pretty challenging for me I say!!

Well, I did it - a true one chord song! At least the guitar and keyboards. My vocal is melodic and not monotone. I'll post later - I intend to add some layers of sound.
@Rainchaser - My song is going to be short. But probably my favorite one-chord song is "Political World" by Bob Dylan, and that's one of his long, winding, multi-verse songs. For me, his lyric prowess makes that song - it amazes me even after many, many listens.