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  • Zoe Lim

The Most Recognisable Piano Riffs of All Time

a girl playing the piano

Piano riffs can shape and determine a song's catchiness! Many times, the piano riff acts as the hook. This is why the moment you hear the opening of a song, you immediately recognise it due to its addictive rhythm. In the list below, we have selected five of the catchiest, grooviest, and most memorable piano riffs of all time! Let's see if you agree with our list!

1. John Lennon - Imagine

Imagine by John Lennon has the most iconic piano riff even til today. The song is nearly half a decade old but still remains as one of the most popular songs in the world, making it a legendary composition. The piano riff is easily recognisable from all corners of the earth, with over 200 artists covering the song itself.

2. Van Halen - Jump

Jump by Van Halen is instantly pleasant to the ears, as it plays out an uplifting synth riff the moment the song starts. It is a riff which boosts one's mood immediately as the chord progression goes on. The synth is the unique part of the song as it became a 'key signature' of Van Halen.

3. Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles

Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles became an instant and viral hit in the early 2000s. One of the most prominent piano riffs, the song has been featured in many films and covers of other artists. It is considered one the 'gems' of generation Z and Y. It is the tinkling piano riff that gets to everybody!

4. Aha - Take On Me

Aha's Take on Me may be iconic for its high notes but no one forgets the piano riff! The piano riff is the epitome of a catchy and groovy 80's synth beat. This track would not have its charm without the staccato piano notes in the beginning of the song! Playing it is also as fun as listening to the song itself.

5. Coldplay - Clocks

Clocks by Coldplay is an ambient and tranquil song, but its piano riff is what makes it memorable. The main element that makes this song such a classic is that the riff kicks off the song and punctuates each chorus. You hear it again and again throughout the song but never get sick of its melody.


Zoe is an avid fan of all kinds of music. Her primary instrument is the guitar but she is always passionately learning how to play other instruments such as the drums and keyboard. She is currently playing the bass guitar in a band and has been routinely involved in music since she was a child.

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