A couple of years ago my girls brought a very interesting fact to my attention, via YouTube. Did you know that every pop song in the last 40 years uses the same four chords? It's true! They had me watch a YouTube video by Axis of Awesome - 4 Chords and I was astounded, mostly because I had never realized this. Every song uses the I, vi, V, IV chord progression (see the "Scale Degrees" post).
Here is the URL to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I (Warning: there is profanity in the beginning)
One of my students wanted only to play pop songs for their recital pieces. I had tried to explain to them that, unless they are arranged specifically for piano at an advanced level, they are pretty monotonous for the audience. Once I saw this video I shared it with them and they got it, to the point that they wanted to do a parody of it. So we did! It was a lot of fun and everyone was amazed at the validity in it.
Now I'm not knocking the I, iv, V, IV chord progression. It obviously is very successful! I just like to see my students broaden their horizon and go beyond that...and then go ahead and write a pop song, if they so wish. And, if they want a pop song to succeed, definitely use the I, vi, V, IV progression. But, if you're going to write, or play, classical, jazz, symphonic metal, opera, etc., it will have to be much more complicated and original.
Hope you enjoyed the video as much as we did! Have a great week!!!