The 20 Best Piano Intros of All Time

The unmistakable chords of “Imagine,” the rhythmic pulse behind “Clocks,” and the heartfelt resonance of “Someone Like You” are a testament to the timeless allure of the piano. This article unveils the 20 most memorable piano intros of all time.

In just a few moments, these intros capture our attention and set the emotional tone for the entire song. As we journey through these iconic melodies, we not only relive musical masterpieces but also witness the transformative power of the piano’s first few notes.

1. “Imagine” by John Lennon

John Lennon’s “Imagine” begins with a gentle, sparse piano arrangement, setting the mood for a song that is both dreamy and introspective. Its simplicity is its strength, providing an unembellished canvas for lyrics that champion global unity and peace.

Lennon draws inspiration from his experiences, crafting a piece that isn’t just musical but philosophical, suggesting a world free from materialism and barriers.

2. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

“Bohemian Rhapsody” commences with a soft, tantalizing piano melody that gives little hint of the genre-blending rollercoaster ahead. It’s a musical odyssey, encapsulating rock vigor, operatic drama, and balladic tenderness — truly a testament to Queen’s versatile genius.

3. “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey

Gently unfolding with thoughtful piano chords, “Don’t Stop Believin'” paints an evocative picture of small-town dreams set against a sprawling city backdrop. Journey captures a universally relatable spirit of hope and aspiration, resonating across generations.

4. “Clocks” by Coldplay

Distinguished by its rhythmic piano opening, “Clocks” encapsulates themes of fleeting time and introspection. Coldplay’s choice of an unrelenting piano motif underscores the song’s theme and accentuates the poetic exploration of love and decision-making.

5. “Let It Be” by The Beatles

Soothing chords introduce “Let It Be,” a song bathed in tranquility and wisdom. Amid The Beatles’ internal turbulence, McCartney crafted this piece as a beacon of solace and hope, with the piano serving as the comforting constant amidst life’s storms.

6. “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Bruce Hornsby delivers “The Way It Is” with a memorable piano intro, quickly making its mark in the listener’s mind. The track, with its blend of pop and jazz, provides thoughtful commentary on societal norms and the potential for change.

7. “Your Song” by Elton John

Starting with uncomplicated piano chords, “Your Song” is a genuine reflection of affection and appreciation. Elton John’s straightforward approach to this ballad, both in melody and lyrics, resonates with many, making it an enduring favorite.

8. “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John

Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” kicks off with a distinct piano rhythm that’s unmistakably him. It’s a track that captures the lively atmosphere of the 70s, reminiscent of concert halls filled with enthusiastic fans.

9. “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos

Although “Layla” is known for its iconic guitar parts, the song’s softer piano section offers a contrasting, reflective moment. It’s a well-balanced combination that showcases both passion and introspection.

10. “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

The ethereal piano notes in “A Thousand Years” serve as a prelude to a tale of eternal love. Christina Perri’s emotive voice and lyrical depth ensure this song resonates across ages, much like the love story it tells.

11. “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses

The distinct piano chords that lead “November Rain” serve as a gateway into Axl Rose’s expressive narrative. Beyond its rock facade, the song emerges as a profound reflection on the intricacies of relationships, woven with threads of longing and acceptance.

12. “Someone Like You” by Adele

Beginning with unadorned piano notes, “Someone Like You” effortlessly conveys the song’s core sentiments even before Adele’s distinctive voice enters the mix. This introspective intro, paired with lyrics on love and reflection, has solidified its place as a memorable pop ballad.

13. “My Immortal” by Evanescence

The soft piano opening of “My Immortal” lays the groundwork for a track steeped in memories and emotions. Amy Lee’s haunting vocals, intertwined with the piano’s gentle melodies, evoke a sense of nostalgia and heartache that’s both moving and memorable.

14. “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel

Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” commences with a refined, jazzy piano motif, instantly evoking imagery of New York’s lively avenues and its diverse tapestry of life. It’s a musical homage to the city’s charisma, reflecting Joel’s genuine admiration for the Big Apple.

15. “All of Me” by John Legend

With a subtle and soulful piano introduction, “All of Me” effortlessly sets the tone for a song that dives deep into the complexities of love. John Legend’s artful composition and earnest lyrics combine to craft a song that feels both intimate and universally relatable.

16. “River Flows in You” by Yiruma

Yiruma’s piece stands out with its gentle, rolling piano melodies that many find reminiscent of flowing water. Although often mistaken as a part of the “Twilight” movie soundtrack due to its popularity during that era, the song has its own identity. It’s a go-to for many seeking relaxation or background music, symbolizing both tranquility and emotion.

17. “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John

Introduced with a soothing piano, “Tiny Dancer” quickly captures the atmosphere of 1970s California. Elton John, in collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin, crafts an ode to the women of the LA music scene.

While the song took some time to gain its iconic status, its catchy chorus and vivid imagery have made it a classic, often associated with road trips and sunsets.

18. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel

Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” has become synonymous with sing-along bar tunes. The song’s narrative, revolving around diverse patrons in a bar, has its roots in Joel’s own experiences as a piano lounge singer. Its combination of relatable lyrics and an unforgettable harmonica-piano intro ensures its place as a timeless anthem.

19. “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

With its lively start and unique folk-pop sound, “Home” became an instant hit for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Celebrating love and camaraderie, the track brings forth images of communal singing, campfires, and shared stories. Its catchy chorus, “Home is wherever I’m with you,” resonates deeply with listeners, emphasizing bonds and connections.

20. “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis

A raucous explosion of energy from the first note, Jerry Lee Lewis’ intro in “Great Balls of Fire” is the epitome of rock & roll piano. With its upbeat tempo and wild spirit, it’s a throwback to the days of jiving and jukeboxes.

Final Thoughts

Just as these pieces have left an indelible mark on music history, they remind us of the timeless connection between melody, memory, and emotion. In the end, the best piano intros aren’t just about the notes played; they’re about the feelings they evoke and the memories they awaken.