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10 Modern Acoustic Guitar Songs to Start Learning Today [2021 Guide]

If you’re looking for some modern acoustic guitar songs to learn, you’ve come to the right post!

In this guide, I’ll discuss a handful of songs all written after the year 2000 that you can start learning on the guitar today.

Most of these are simple songs that are great for beginners.

But I’ve also thrown in a couple of more complex songs for intermediate and advanced players.

Let’s get to it!

1. I’m Yours by Jason Mraz

This is one of those modern acoustic guitar songs that’s great to learn for beginners and more advanced players alike because of its popularity and simple sing-along nature.

Jason Mraz started performing I’m Yours in his 2004 and 2005 gigs.

It became a crowd favorite leading him to release the song as a demo on a limited edition EP known as Extra Credit in 2005.

The EP promoted Jason Mraz’s second studio album, Mr. A–Z.

This continued its meteoric rise in popularity, receiving a nomination for Song of the Year.

Jason also earned Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for this song at the fifty-first Grammy Awards.

Although the song is in the key of B; you can use easier chord shapes from the key of G by putting your capo on the fourth fret.

In the context of the fourth fret, the song revolves around the chord shapes: G, D, Em, C, A7, Dsus4, and Bm.

The studio version follows a tempo of 75 beats per minute.

Since the release of the 2005 demo version of this track, hundreds of fans have done cover versions of this track on YouTube. 

Check out these covers to help you learn the song and add your own flare to this great sing-along tune.

2. We’re Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes

Released in late 2002, this is a song by the American rock band, The White Stripes from their album, White Blood Cells.

The studio version of this folk-rock/acoustic song follows a tempo of 97 beats per minute.

We’re Going To Be Friends doesn’t require a capo which is nice because that means you need one less item to play this tune.

The song revolves around the chords G, C, D, and A respectively all played in open positions.

Popular singer-songwriter Jack Johnson also recorded a cover of the song on his album Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film, Curious George.

This is one of the first real songs I learned on the guitar and I continue to play it today!

It’s a fun and simple song to learn to play.

3. I Will Follow You Into the Dark

I Will Follow You Into the Dark is Death Cab for Cutie’s third track from their fifth album, Plans.

Death Cab for Cutie’s lead singer, Ben Gibbard, wrote and performs this acoustic solo ballad which the band released on August 30, 2005.

Surprisingly, they recorded it in monaural with a single microphone and very little editing.

As a result of its commercial success and recording simplicity, this song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Also, it remains the band’s best-selling single to-date.

I was obsessed with Death Cab for Cutie in high school and even played this song at a high school talent show!

If you’re trying to play along with the studio version, it’s about 155 beats per minute.

Also, to play this one, you will need to capo on the fifth fret.

It revolves around the chord shapes: C, F, G/B, G, E, Am/G, Fm, C/G, and Am/E.

Even though other singles have outranked this one, it remains one of the band’s most-played songs on commercial radio stations.

4. Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson released this guitar-led acoustic song in 2005.

Johnson has an interesting professional history as an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, record producer, documentary filmmaker, and former professional surfer.

You’ll notice that this track has easy-listening vibes; a signature quality of Jack Johnson’s sound. 

This is also another tune that doesn’t require a capo.

The studio version follows a tempo of 120 beats per minute, and the chords are G7, D7, Am7, C7, D, Bm, and Em. 

5. Perfect by Ed Sheeran

This ballad has become a love anthem of global-renown.

Ed Sheeran wrote this for his girlfriend/wife-to-be Cherry Seaborn in 2016.

Cherry was also Ed Sheeran’s old school friend.

According to Ed Sheeran, he initially had no idea whether she really liked the track. He told BBC Radio 2:

“I just recorded it and sent it because she was living in New York at the time so I didn’t see her reaction….”

Perfect was recorded in the UK in 2016 and released in 2017.

The studio version is in the key of A♭ major but Ed typically plays it in the key of G in live performances.

It uses a tempo of 63.5 beats per minute in 12/8 time (without using triplets).

With triplets, it results in a 4/4 time signature.

To play along with the studio version, I recommend capoing on the first fret and using G shape chords.

6. Budapest by George Ezra

Budapest is a folk-rock song by English singer-songwriter George Ezra.

This song is from his debut studio album titled Wanted on Voyage and released in 2014.

Ezra co-wrote Budapest with fellow musician, Joel Pott, who is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band, Athlete.

According to Ezra, Budapest was his first try at writing a love song.

Also, Ezra said the song uses the first three guitar chords he ever learned: G, C, and D chords.

The studio version of the song follows a tempo of 128 beats per minute and is in the key of F.

However, you can easily transpose this one to G major or use a capo to make it easier to play. 

7. Why Georgia by John Mayer

Legendary guitarist, John Mayer, started his music career at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston.

However, he later dropped out, wanting to pursue music on his own.

Clearly, this decision has worked out for him since he has catapulted himself into music fame.

Most of his songs feature more complex guitar styles while still managing to have mainstream appeal.

His track, Why Georgia, fits this description with greater complexity than most songs on this list.

So while this is may not be one of the better modern acoustic guitar songs to learn for a beginner, it is great for intermediate and advanced players.

Why Georgia is in the key of G and features some unique chords including C6/9, Em7, D/F#, G, Cadd9, A7sus, and more. 

Check out the instruction video above for more details on how to learn this track.

8. Hey There, Delilah by the Plain White Ts

“Hey There Delilah” is a folk-pop/emo-pop song by American rock band Plain White T’s.

They released this track in May 2006 from their third studio album called, All That We Needed.

The song received massive radio play over the following year, eventually reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 2007.

The studio version of this song is in the key of D major and follows a tempo of 104 beats per minute.

This is another one of the modern acoustic guitar songs in this list that doesn’t require a capo and uses simple chords including D, F#m, Bm, G, and A.

The band’s frontman Tom Higgenson wrote the song after he met Delilah DiCrescenzo, a nationally ranked cross-country runner.

I hate to burst anyone’s romantic bubble, but the two never actually dated and went on to have other romantic relationships.

You can read more about the back story of this song here.

9. Fifteen by Taylor Swift

Fifteen is a country-pop/ballad song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and co-produced with Nathan Chapman.

Swift released Fifteen on August 30, 2009 as the fourth single from her second studio album, Fearless.

Like most songs on this list, “Fifteen” is in common time, and it follows a moderate tempo of 96 beats per minute. 

This country-pop ballad is in the key of G major following a simple chord progression: Gsus2–Csus2–Em–Csus2.

10. I Don’t Care by Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran

Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran released I Don’t Care in May 2019.

This pop song quickly went up the charts and continues to receive airtime on radio stations in 2020. 

The studio version is in the key of F♯ major, following a tempo of 100 beats per minute in 4/4 time following a chord progression of F♯–D♯m–B–C♯.

But to make it simpler, you can easily transpose it to the key of G and play the chords G, Em, C, and D.

Conclusion

I hope this list has given you some ideas of modern acoustic guitar songs you can start learning today!

And if you need more help getting started, check out my post on how I recommend learning the guitar.

What do you think of this list?

Are my songs not modern enough?

Is something missing from this list?

Let me know in the comments!

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