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The "50s doo-wop" progression

| | : I – VI – IV – V : | | or | | : I – VI – II – V : | | This cyclical chord progression was very common in rock ballads from the 1950s…

||: I – VI – IV – V :||
or
||: I – VI – II – V :||

This cyclical chord progression was very common in rock ballads from the 1950s and early 1960s, hence the name (example: “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler).


However, it has continued to be used frequently ever since (examples: the verse and chorus of “Friday” by Rebecca Black, the chorus of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler).



Because it is typically employed in cycles, it can also be found starting on a different chord in the cycle and then proceeding through the same succession of chords. For example, “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay works through a cyclical repetition of the same succession of chords, but their phrases begin on IV rather than I:

||: IV – V – I – VI :||


The "50s doo-wop" progression
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