Rhythm and blues, more known as R&B, is a popular music genre that appeared in the 1940s. Playing R&B songs is an excellent way to gain more skills and learn new guitar techniques.
This genre has a rich musical history, and it originated in the African-American community. Its songs talk about what it means to be alive – to struggle, lose, and love. First, R&B was like a mixture of jazz, blues, and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Over time, that classical R&B morphed to Contemporary R&B, merging the genre with hip-hop, soul, and funk.
These songs allow learning rich-chord voicings and deepen knowledge of the guitar. Whether you love a classical or modern R&B, you’ll find something worthy for your repertoire in this path.
All Of Me – John Legend
All Of Me is a song by an American singer John Legend and part of his fourth studio album called Love In The Future, released in 2013. It was in first place on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song remix, featuring Tiesto, won a Grammy Award for the best-remixed recording.
The song is a piano ballad inspired by Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen. You’ll need a standard tuning for this song, a capo on the 1st fret, and some basic chords to play – Em, C, G, D, Am, and C/D. Don’t be worried about the slash chord – it’s easy to learn it.
Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
It’s a song written and recorded by Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, professionally known as The Weeknd. He recorded it for his 2015 studio album called Beauty Behind The Madness. An American magazine called Rolling Stone ranked Can’t Feel My Face as the best song in 2015. It was number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and Canadian Hot 100 chart.
The song is excellent for absolute beginners as it requires only three chords – Em, D, and C. Put a capo on the 5th fret and enjoy this lovely R&B song.
Can’t Feel My Face Guitar Chords
If you like R&B you should check my other article Top 30 Famous & Easy Blues Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Billie Jean is an American song written and recorded by Michael Jackson. It was released by Epic Records in 1983. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became popular worldwide. Besides that, a magazine called Rolling Stone placed the song at #58 on the list of 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Jackson had also reworked the song for the Pepsi commercial.
The song starts with a well-known, standard drum beat along with the cymbals and a pedal. Play Em, Am, C, and B7, with a capo on the 2nd fret.
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
Released in 2013 and written by Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams in three days. They chose an American rapper called T.I., who added a rap verse to the song. The song was nominated for Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and the BET Awards. It peaked first place in the UK and US Songs charts.
It’s an R&B and pop track with expressed percussion, funk rhythm, and bass. It requires only two basic chords – G and D, which allows every player to enjoy the song.
Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
Blinding Lights is a second single of the Weeknd’s fourth studio album called After Hours, released in 2020. It was on top of the US, UK, and Canadian charts. It first appeared on a Mercedes-Benz commercial, where the singer was driving the car and asking the system to play his new song. The song has a nice story – it is about the importance of his partner.
This amazing song won everyone’s hearts. It’s great for people who have just started learning the guitar. It includes four basic chords – Dm, Am, C, and G. You can use a capo on the 3rd fret.
If you want to play some more fun songs, check out my other list Top 60 Most Fun & Easy Songs To Play On Guitar – Tabs Included
No One – Alicia Keys
This popular song is from Alicia Key’s studio album called As I Am, released in 2007. It was written by Keys, George Mc. Harry, and Kerry Brothers Jr. It was on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks and became the sixth-biggest hit of the US decade.
This R&B song is a beginner-friendly one, as it includes easy chords and transitions between them. It’s set in common time, and chords are played along with the down-down-up-down-up-down-up strumming pattern. You can put a capo on the 4th fret for a more accurate sound.
Crazy In Love – Beyoncé
Crazy in Love is a song recorded by an American singer Beyonce, featuring his husband, Jay-Z. It was released in 2003 as part of her debut studio album called Dangerously In Love. The song was first performed at BET Awards. Several musicians recorded their cover versions of the song.
It’s in a moderate tempo, set in the key of G major and in common time. Play G, D, Am, and C along with an easy strumming pattern. You don’t need a capo for this song unless this harmony doesn’t suit your voice.
Black Or White – Michael Jackson
Black Or White is a song from Michael Jackson’s 1991 album called Dangerous. It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was written, composed, and produced by Jackson and Bill Bottrell. It was certified platinum in the US.
This modern R&B song with hip-hop, pop-rock, and dance elements became popular worldwide, especially among beginner guitarists, as it includes easy D, G, A chords.
If those songs are a bit too hard for you, try my other article 50 Famous & Easy 2 Chord Guitar Songs – Tabs Included
I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
The song was recorded by Whitney Houston in 1986 and released in 1987 as part of the album called Whitney. I Wanna Dance With Somebody was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, and it won a Grammy Award for the best female pop vocal performance. That’s not weird – Whitney is known as one of the best female vocals ever.
It’s an R&B song with some dance-pop elements. You will need nine chords for this song – this is not unusual as most of the R&B songs include a beginner number of chords. But, that doesn’t make the song hard to learn and play.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody Guitar Chords
Say My Name – Destiny’s Child
Say My Name is a song recorded by an American girl band called Destiny’s Child. It was released through Columbia Records in 1999 as part of their album called The Writing’s On The Wall. Girls won Grammy Awards for the best R&B performance and the best R&B song.
Besides R&B, the song has some pop elements, too. Play Am, F, Dm, and G along with an easy strumming pattern. Put a capo on the 3rd fret and enjoy the nice R&B sound.
No Scrubs – TLC
This popular song is recorded by a group called TLC as the lead single of the 1999 album called FanMail. It was initially written by Kandi Burruss on an envelope in her car. TLC won two Grammys at the 42nd ceremony – one for the best R&B performance and the other for the best R&B song.
No Scrubs is an R&B/hip-pop song, and it soon became popular worldwide. The song requires a standard guitar tuning, a capo on the 4th fret, and four easy chords – Em, Am7, C, and B7.
If you want to impress someone you love, try playing one of the songs from my other article Top 30 Easy Guitar Love Songs To Impress Her/Him – Tabs Included
No Diggity – Blackstreet
No Diggity is an R&B song by American group Blackstreet. It became a part of their album called Another Level, released in 1996. It won a Grammy Award two years later, was on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 43 on the NME’s list of 100 Best Songs Of The 1990s.
Required chords for this song are easy to learn and play. Transitions between them are also easy, so every beginner can learn this song perfectly.
Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
This Alicia Keys’ debut single is part of her 2001 studio album called Songs In A Minor. Fallin’ is considered Keys’ signature song as she wrote it and also worked on the production. It was number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and won many awards, such as Grammys for the song of the year, best R&B song, and the best female R&B vocal performance.
This song is one of the easiest R&B songs to play and learn on guitar. It includes only two chords – Am and Em. Add a capo on the 7th fret.
My All – Mariah Carey
My All is a popular song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. It’s the fifth track of her album Butterfly, released in 1997, and was number one in the USA and throughout Europe. Carey was inspired for writing thanks to baseball player Derek Jeter and their romance in Puerto Rico.
This R&B song has some Latin-pop elements, and these genres fusion makes the song special and unique. It’s a beginner song and doesn’t require a lot of skills for playing.
If those songs are a bit too easy for you, you may want to check my other article Top 50 Easy, Intermediate, Advanced Fingerpicking Songs – Tabs Included
My Boo – Usher ft. Alicia Keys
My Boo is a duet recorded by Usher and Alicia Keys, two well-known R&B singers. It was included on Usher’s 2004 album Confessions. In the song, singers play the role of ex-partners, and the song talks about the first love and their beautiful moments spent together.
It’s a mid-tempo song with R&B and hip-hop elements. It’s set in common time and includes three chords – Am, G, and F.
What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner
Released in 1984 as part of Tina Turner’s album called Private Dancer. It became the most successful single of her – it was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame and included in the list called Songs Of The Century. What’s Love Got To Do With It was also recorded by some artists, such as Warren G and Kygo.
The song is set in common time and doesn’t include anything hard for beginners. You only need to know some basic open chords, one barre chord, and a seventh chord, Em7. Don’t be scared – it includes only one-note playing.
What’s Love Got To Do With It Guitar Chords
Survivor – Destiny’s Child
Survivor is a song by a girl group, Destiny’s Child, written by group members. It was inspired by a joke one radio station made – they compared the group with a reality show called Survivor. It was such a nice way of turning the negative comments into a positive thing.
Even though the song is called Survivor, you won’t need many skills to survive the song – you only need to know an easy Em-C-B chord progression and set everything in common time.
If you like playing R&B songs, you should check out this K-pop songs article Top 35 Popular & Easy K-pop Songs – Guitar Tabs Included
This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
Released in 1995 as the debut single by American singer Montell Jordan. The single was included on his studio album, also titled This Is How We Do It. It was nominated for a Grammy Award and was also named Best R&B 12-inch at the International Dance Music Awards in Miami.
The song is perfect for beginners as it includes only three chords – Bm, A, and Em. Transitions between them are not hard, and you’ll soon be able to synchronize both hands perfectly.
This Is How We Do It Guitar Chords
Waterfalls – TLC
Waterfalls is a song from TLC’s album CrazySexyCool, released in 1995. It is often considered the signature song of the group. Soon after the release, the song became an international hit and earned two Grammy nominations. The Waterfalls song is about some 1990s problems that the community was dealing with, so they were trying to send the message to the world through the song.
It’s an R&B song with some hip-hop elements. To sound like the recorded album version, use a capo on the 1st fret and play four basic open chords – D, A, C, and G.
Simply The Best – Tina Turner
Simply The Best, also known as The Best, was recorded by Tina Turner. The song was released as part of her seventh studio album Foreign Affair in 1989. Turner only covered the song – Simply The Best belongs to Bonnie Tyler. She recorded it in 1988 for her album Hide Your Heart.
This international hit has both R&B and pop-rock elements. It requires 8 chords, but they are easy to play, and transitions between them are pretty easy. Most R&B songs have a lot of chords, so this is not an unusual situation.
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
Released in 1978 as the second single of Gloria Gaynor’s sixth album called Love Tracks. The song was number one on the US and UK charts and was often recalled as a symbol of female empowerment. I Will Survive became Gaynor’s signature song and an international hit.
I Will Survive includes easy chords for beginners and an easy down-down-up-up-down-up strumming pattern. Play a single strum at the beginning.
Ordinary People – John Legend
Ordinary People is a song written and produced by John Legend and an American rapper, will.i.am. It became a part of Legend’s 2004 studio album Get Lifted. The song received three Grammy nominations and was on top of the charts worldwide.
This R&B/soul song includes G, D, C, F, Em, and Am. The only challenge is the barre F chord, but keep practicing, and you’ll soon get rid of that buzzing sound.
Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
Released in 1961 as part of The Marvelettes’ album Please Mr. Postman. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, R&B charts and has been covered many times by well-known artists, including The Beatles and The Carpenters.
The song’s rhythm section is made of piano, bass, and drums. The song is set in 4/4 time signature and includes an easy I-vi-IV-V chord progression.
Please Mr. Postman Guitar Chords
Pretty Wings – Maxwell
Pretty Wings is a single from Maxwell’s fourth studio album called BLACKsummer’snights. It won a Grammy for the best male R&B vocal performance. Maxwell said the song is a bittersweet love one, about meeting the right person at the wrong time. It’s a song describing the real situation in his life.
It includes four open chords, which allows every player to enjoy it. Play an easy Am-Dm-Em-F chord progression along with an easy strumming pattern and a capo on the 4th fret.
Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Released in 1972 and was written and recorded by Bill Withers. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #208 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. His childhood in the coal-mining town in West Virginia was the inspiration for this song.
The song includes G, C, D, and two seventh chords – D7 and A7. They are not hard to learn – you only need to practice a little bit to fasten chord transitions and avoid buzzing.
Earth Angel – The Penguins
Released as The Penguins’ debut single in 1954. It grew out of Southern California and spread across the United States. Earth Angles reached the top of the R&B charts and became popular worldwide. Many artists recorded their cover versions that were also popular and helped The Penguins to be more and more famous.
It’s set in common time and includes five basic open chords – G, Em, C, D, and Am. Put a capo on the 1st fret for a more original sound.
Seven Days – Craig David
It’s a song by Craig David – a British singer and songwriter. It was released in 2000 as part of his debut studio album called Born To Do It. Seven Days topped the UK charts and were top ten of the charts worldwide, and it was also nominated for BRIT and Grammy Awards.
This beautiful R&B song is excellent for a novice-player repertoire. Play Dm, Gm, Am, and A7 with a capo on the 2nd fret.
I’d Rather Go Blind – Etta James
I’d Rather Go Blind is a song recorded in 1967 by Etta James. It was written by Ellington Jordan and co-credited to Billy Foster and Etta James. When she visited Jordan in prison, James heard his song outlines and tried to wrote the rest of them. She recorded the song at the FAME Studios in Alabama, and it became a part of her album called Tell Mama.
This song is one with a strong message to the world. It requires two easy chords – A and Bm. Absolute beginners may struggle with the Bm chord, but practice is the key.
I’d Rather Go Blind Guitar Chords
Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles
The song became a signature song of Ray Charles and was released in 1961. A friend of his wrote the song, it became popular worldwide and even won two Grammy Awards. Ray Charles re-recorded the song for a KFC advertisement, so the song became “Cross The Road Jack”.
Hit The Road Jack requires four easy chords – Am, G, F, and E7. They are easy to learn and play, and switching between them is not a big deal. The song is set in common time and requires an easy down-down-up strumming pattern.
Hit The Road Jack Guitar Chords
My Girl – The Temptations
It’s a song recorded by The Temptations in 1964. It became their signature song and soon won the top of many US charts. Also, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. The song was included on The Temptations’ studio album The Temptations Sing Smokey.
My Girl is in the key of C major and requires a standard guitar tuning. The song has repetitive sequences, so it’s really easy to memorize. Required chords are C, F, Dm, G, G7, D, Em, A, and A7.
Wonderful World – Sam Cooke
Released in April 1960 and recorded by Sam Cooke, an American singer-songwriter. The song is about the beauty of love and how it can make the world a special and wonderful place. Wonderful World appeared in some movies, such as Animal House and Breathless.
It’s set in common time and requires easy chords playing along with a traditional strumming pattern. There are also some variations when it comes to strumming patterns, so choose what’s the best for you.
Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
Ain’t No Sunshine is Bill Withers’ song released in 1971 as part of his album Just As I Am, but it was first released as a single. It became a breakthrough hit for Bill Withers as it reached the top of many charts internationally. Michael Jackson re-recorded the song and put his stamp on it.
It’s an absolute-beginner song as it includes only basic open chords and an easy strumming pattern.
Ain’t No Sunshine Guitar Chords
Everyday People – Sly & The Family Stone
Released in 1968 and was the first band single to be on top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s remembered as one of the most popular songs of the 1960s. The song sends a powerful message to the world, promoting peace and equality between people. In 1983, Joan Jett re-recorded the song, just like many more artists worldwide.
You will need a capo on the 3rd fret, standard guitar tuning, and E, A G, and C – four open chords that even an absolute beginner can perform.
Another Saturday Night – Sam Cooke
It’s a 1963 track by Sam Cooke from his album Ain’t That Good News. It reached #1 on the R&B charts and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Many musicians recorded their song versions. One of them is Cat Stevens, whose version peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
This song requires an easy G-C-D chord progression and a capo on the 2nd fret for a studio-like sound.
Another Saturday Night Guitar Chords
Again – Janet Jackson
Again is a popular song by Janet Jackson, an American singer, and songwriter. It was released in 1993 and was included in her album Janet. It first appeared as the closing song to the Poetic Justice movie from 1993.
It’s a lightweight piano ballad that talks about lost love. It’s set in a moderate tempo, and the required chords are everything but hard.
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin recorded Respect in 1967. It’s actually a cover version of the song, originally recorded by Otis Redding in 1965. Franklin’s version was a bigger hit and soon became her signature song.
It’s in the key of C major and requires a standard tuning on guitar. Three chords are enough to play this song – A7, D7, and E7. Even though beginners are often scared of seventh chords, these are not hard at all.
You Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes
Originally recorded by The Supremes in 1966. It topped the US Billboard chart and also was on a high chart position in the UK and Australia. The song is about mother’s encouraging words to her daughter. That’s the gospel music influence in the R&B genre.
The song includes G, C, Bm, Em, Am, D, and D7. Add a capo on the 3rd fret to sound similar to the recorded version.
You Can’t Hurry Love Guitar Chords
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations
It’s a song by The Temptations from the 1966 album Gettin’ Ready and was written by Edward Holland Jr. and Norman Whitfield. It reached #89 on the Billboard Hot 100. An English singer, Rick Astley, covered the song for his album Hold Me In Your Arms, released in 1988.
Every guitarist loves this R&B song as it includes an easy G-C-D chord progression, and it’s easy to play and memorize.
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg Guitar Chords
Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett
The song Mustang Sally was first recorded by Mack Rice but Wilson Pickett recorded his cover version for his album called The Wicked Pickett. In 2004, An American magazine Rolling Stone ranked his version at #434 of the list called Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.
This R&B song requires A-D-E chord progression and a simple strumming pattern. You won’t need a capo unless you want to synchronize playing with your high voice.
Chain Gang – Sam Cooke
Chain Gang is a song by Sam Cooke from his 1960 album Swing Low. It’s one of the biggest Cooke’s hits. He was inspired to write Chaing Gang after meeting with an actual chain gang of prisoners on a highway. It reached number two on the US charts.
The song includes four easy and open chords – G, Em, C, and D. Transitions between chords are easy, and the strumming pattern is not hard to be synchronized with the hand on the fretboard.
Rhythm and blues, more known as R&B, is a music genre that appeared in the 1940s. It’s one of the most popular genres worldwide and has a rich musical history with quality singers and players.
Many R&B songs are easy to play, but still, they teach you some new things spontaneously. They allow you to learn rich-chord voicings and deepen your guitar knowledge.
Therefore, R&B songs are excellent for gaining more skills and learning new guitar techniques.
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