I am a songwriter and compose my own music to go with my lyrics. Most of my chord progressions follow common patterns like using a I V IV or I IV V with an occasional ii or iii or vi chord thrown in for good measure. But I am always looking for new ways to make my chord progressions more interesting and unusual. But I want them to be effective and satisfying. So when I see something outside the norm that sounds good, I like to try to figure out what makes it work.
The sound file below is an example of a popular song (some may recognize it but the title isn't important) that uses a very strange chord progression. My arrangement is transposed from the original composition but these chords absolutely work in this song. Yet the chords don't seem to fit properly into any key. I'll take a wild guess and say it's in the key of G.
So the intro is G to E (G = G major and E = E major). Then the verses chords are G B7 C A G B7 C A then the chorus is G Em G Em G A G E (major this time). Then there is a bridge that goes G D C - G D C - G D C then F D7 then back to the verse. Song ends on E (major) after repeating the intro.
My question is how can these chords go together? There is an Em and E major? I know the G C D & Em fit in the key of G major. But why does an A major and E major work if this song is in the key of G? What about the B7 (a B major will work in the song also). I realize the bridge might modulate to a different key? But in the verse there is a G and B7 and A and C If I can understand what functions these seemingly out of place chords have and what makes them work in this progression, perhaps I can use the same logic to compose some fresh new melodies for my own original songs.
The sound file is me playing the chord progression on acoustic guitar while calling out the chord names in case my sloppy playing does not make them clear.