L3: 5 Chords 5 Keys


Earn your Core Chords Level 3 patch by demonstrating the following chord sequences in the keys of F, C, G, D & A:

  • I–vi–IV–V7 (The 50’s Progression)
  • I–V–vi–IV (The Pop-Punk Progression)

Level 3 Chords with Diagrams

Although the chords are listed above, it is also good to own a ukulele chord dictionary for quick reference.

Suggested Songs

Consider learning one or more ‘four-chord songs’ that use these sequences for an easy addition to your Set Lists. Try transposing songs to various keys to find the one that best fits your voice.

50’s Progression : I-vi-IV-V

  • “All I Have to do is Dream” The Everly Brothers 1958 in C : verses only; the bridge marked ‘chorus’ is not that difficult, containing chords from other keys in this level : this is also available in The Daily Ukulele
  • “Blue Moon” The Marcels 1961 in C : verses only; omit the ‘chorus’ (really the bridge) for now
  • “Duke of Earl” Gene Chandler 1962 in C, in F and in G (excellent cover video in F)
  • “Earth Angel” The Penguins 1954 in C : verses only as the chorus includes G, C7 and D7; however these chords are still appropriate for this level
  • “Every Breath You Take” The Police 1983 in C : verses and chorus (with the addition of D7); however the bridge uses Ab and Bb so you may wan’t to leave it be til later
  • Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight in C : verses only when substituting C for Am7 (though since Am7 is all the open strings, there’s not much reason to substitute it); the bridge section can be omitted for the time being
  • “Heart and Soul” Larry Clinton 1938 in F : verses only when you substitute Dm for Dm7 and Bb for Gm7 (the bridge features a series of seventh chords, so depending on your level you may want to skip it for now)
  • “Lollipop” Ronald & Ruby 1958 in C : chorus only, though the rest of the chords in this song are appropriate to this level if you substitute Dm for Dm7
  • “Monster Mash” Bobby Picket 1962 in G : perfectly textbook
  • “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” Starship 1987 in C : most of the song follows this progression with a few chords thrown in as flavoring (A# = Bb, Em and Dm . . . leave out the instrumental in a different key)
  • “Runaround Sue” Dion and the Belmonts 1961 in C : textbook
  • “Octopus’s Garden” The Beatles 1969 in C in The Daily Ukulele : Leap Year Edition
  • “Stand by Me” Ben E. King 1961 in C or in The Daily Ukulele
  • “Teenager in Love” Dion and the Belmonts 1959 in G in The Daily Ukulele : Leap Year Edition
  • There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” The Smiths 1992 (in Am / C) : this one is a pretty big stretch since only a portion of the chorus uses this progression; however, the chords are appropriate to this level
  • “This Magic Moment” Ben E. King 1960 (G) in The Daily Ukulele : Leap Year Edition
  • “What a Wonderful World this Could Be” Sam Cooke 1960 in C : almost textbook with the addition of a D7 chord in the bridge
  • “Who Put the Bomp” Barry Mann 1961 in C : this parody makes great use of the progression with some additional chords borrowed from other keys

Punk / Pop Progression : I–V–vi–IV

  • “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” Elton John 1994 in C and D  (after the key change) : only the beginning of the chorus strictly follows this pattern, but the rest of the song is appropriate to this level, and you get to check off two keys with one song
  • “Don’t Stop Believin'” Journey 1981 in Fin D, or in C (original key is E) : most of the song follows this pattern with the addition of some minor six chords thrown in
  • “Down Under” Men at Work 1981 in Bm / D (original key) or in Am / C (easier) : the chorus follows this pattern with a lift at the end, so that it is I-V-vi-IV-V; the verses hang out in the relative minor (same chords in a different order, vi-V-iv-IV-V, making the vi the tonal center) . . . also in The Daily Ukulele : Leap Year Edition
  • “Forever Young” Alphaville 1984 in C : this song relies heavily on this progression with a few turnarounds thrown in here and there; very easy
  • “Hey Soul Sister” Train 2010 in E (original key with video of Train doing it with solo uke where you can see the player uses barre chord versions of these chords), in D or in C : follows the pattern fairly closely with some turnarounds thrown in . . . also in The Daily Ukulele : Leap Year Edition
  • “I’m Yours” Jason Mraz 2008 in B, Bb and A (scroll down for Bb and A versions) or in C (for really high or low singers) or try in D, in F or even in G (for middling singers) : a textbook example of this chord progression with a glitchy II7 chord thrown in at one point
  • “Let It Be” The Beatles 1970 in C (original key great for high or low voices) or in F, in G or in A (for us middling singers) : fairly textbook with some turnarounds thrown in . . . my favorite key for this is G. Also in The Daily Ukulele
  • “Passionate Kisses” Lucinda Williams 1988 in C : Textbook verse, with an additon of Em in the bridge and an even simpler chorus
  • “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” Five For Fighting 2001 in C (original key for high voices) or in G (a happy medium key) : textbook and easy to play though the original key is screaming high
  • “Times They are A-Changin'” Bob Dylan 1963 in C in The Daily Ukulele : verse follows the progression textbook while the refrain just uses a two chord C-G7-C-G7-C switchback
  • “Under the Bridge” Red Hot Chili Peppers 1992 in D or in C (original in E) : the verse is based on this progression with a lift thrown in at the ends of phrases, but the experimental structure of the song make it a pretty tough nut (although it is easier to play and sing in D or C)
  • “With or Without You” U2 1987 in D (original key), in C or in A (for easier singing on the chorus) : textbook, all the way through
  • “Wrecking Ball” Miley Cyrus 2013 in Dm / F : another song with the relative minor in the verse, switching to major in the chorus which follows this progression (see “Down Under”)

Punk / Pop Minor Variations : vi–IV–I–V

  • “Africa” Toto 1983 in G / Dm (original in B / F#m, lowered for ease of singing and playing) : an unusual (and awesome) chord progression that goes to a minor key at the chorus (which follows this pattern); a bit of a challenge
  • “Hanging Tree” performed by Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games) 2014 in Am (words here) : textbook example of the minor variation of this progression and very easy to play and sing
  • “Zombie” The Cranberries 1994 in Em (original for low singers) or in Am : textbook and easy to play in either key

Other Songs that Use these Chords in Various Progressions