When you first start playing drums, one of the best ways to check your progress is to play the beats and fills that you’ve learned while playing different songs. Some songs are a lot simpler than others, so it’s a good idea to start with those so that you feel a sense of achievement.
As part of our series on the best songs to play along to, here’s a list of 20 songs with relatively easy drum parts. These are tracks that have simple rhythms, but they’re all still very fun to play. You’ll often hear them being played at various gigs and events, so it’s a good idea to know how to play them, even if you’re not a beginner.
- 1 You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
- 2 Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
- 3 Brain Stew – Green Day
- 4 Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
- 5 Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
- 6 Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
- 7 Heathens – twenty one pilots
- 8 Thunder – Imagine Dragons
- 9 Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz
- 10 No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys
- 11 Two-Way Mirror – Loathe
- 12 Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
- 13 Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz
- 14 What I’ve Done – Linkin Park
- 15 Come As You Are – Nirvana
- 16 We Will Rock You – Queen
- 17 Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
- 18 The Less I Know the Better – Tame Impala
- 19 Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
- 20 Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
- 21 Final Thoughts on Easy Drum Songs for Beginners
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
AC/DC is undoubtedly one of the best bands to check out if you’re looking for some easy drum parts. Our first suggestion from the band is You Shook Me All Night Long, as it has a very straightforward 8th note groove being played throughout all the verses.
It’s like a basic rock beat, but the second kick drum gets played on the half-count just before the second snare. This is an incredibly common groove that gets used for songs, so it’s a good idea to play it here and get used to it.
The groove in the chorus shifts to a standard rock groove with bass drums on beats 1 and 3 and snare drums on beats 2 and 4. You just need to make sure to hit the crash and snare at the same time as the hits in the music.
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
This track has one of the most recognizable bass lines ever, and it’s a complete banger to jam out on the drums. Something to note about The White Stripes is that Meg White wasn’t the most skilled drummer around, so most of the band’s drum parts are at a beginner level.
The track starts with a simple four-on-the-floor pattern between the floor tom and the kick drum. A snare drum backbeat comes in at the second verse, and there’s a small build before the chorus with 8th notes on the snare and floor tom.
The chorus then has you moving to the crash cymbal to play a quarter note groove that is fairly simple. The one tricky part is where the crashes match the rhythm of the guitar, but you should get used to it quite quickly.
Brain Stew – Green Day
The great thing about Brain Stew is that it has the same two-bar groove being played throughout the whole track. The groove itself is slightly tricky in that you need to nail 16th note bursts on the bass drum underneath a steady backbeat. But once you can play that, you can play the whole song quite comfortably.
The only differences between the verse and chorus are that the verse has a closed hi-hat, while the chorus gets played with wide-open and trashy hi-hats. There’s a heavy instrumental at the end where the drums open up, but you can just keep playing the same groove, and it will fit.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
Speaking of Green Day, this wouldn’t be a complete beginner drum song list without Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
This is one of the most common songs that drum teachers get their new students to play, as it has you playing basic 8th note grooves throughout the track, and it trains you to switch from the hi-hats to the ride or crash in the chorus.
You also have to play 16th notes on the snare drum before every chorus starts, and it’s incredibly satisfying to pull those off.
The tempo for the song is quite slow, which is why it’s one of the easier songs on this list to nail down quickly.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
In everyone’s first-ever drum lesson, they learn how to play a basic 8th note groove with bass drums on counts 1 and 3 and snare drums on counts 2 and 4. That groove is used in thousands of songs, but the most popular one is arguably Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.
It’s the only groove you play throughout the entire tune, making it very easy to learn. The only tricky aspect is that it’s quite quick.
So, once you can play a basic 8th note groove at a fast speed, you’ll be right at home when playing this song. You can add a few crash cymbals here and there whenever you switch from verses to choruses.
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
Another One Bites the Dust is another fantastic track that will have you playing the basic rock beat all the way through. We suggest that you get Billie Jean down before this one, as this one has a few fills that you need to fit in.
Freddie Mercury’s singing is also very syncopated in the verses, meaning it doesn’t line up straight with what the instruments are doing. So, you need to have the groove locked in so that the singing doesn’t put you off.
Heathens – twenty one pilots
Heathens is an excellent modern song to play on the drums. It has the same drum groove as You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC, but it’s a bit slower. While that song is very driving, this track is quite laid back.
You can easily lay into this track with that groove the whole time, or you could break it up into a linear groove where you only play the hi-hat on counts that you don’t play the bass drum or snare drum.
You’ll get the same sound, but the linear notes that don’t play at the same time will sound a lot stronger. It’s a good starting point for working on linear drumming.
Thunder – Imagine Dragons
Thunder is a great track to pull out for people who love modern pop music. If you’re teaching young children, they’re more likely to know this song than any of the other songs that we’ve mentioned so far. So, it’s a big crowd-pleaser.
The drums in the track are all made on software, but you can easily play the groove on a drum set. The song has the same groove all the way through, and you just need to play 8th notes on the floor tom at a certain point in every chorus.
The final chorus of the song is musically very big, so you should move your right hand over to a crash cymbalwhile playing the same groove to match that energy.
Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz
Clint Eastwood is a song that so many people know but don’t know the name of. It blew up when it came out, and it’s become one of the top hits from the Gorillaz. It’s an incredibly easy song to play on the drums, as it just has one groove that repeats the whole time.
It’s a basic 8th note groove where you play two bass drums in a row on beats 3 and the “and” of 3. This is the kind of song where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the music as you’re playing along with it.
Playing drums to parts where people rap always feels amazing, and this is a great track to start with for that.
No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys
Here’s another fun rap song to jam on the drums. Most of the track will have you playing a steady 8th note groove with two kick drums before every snare drum on the backbeat.
The tricky part to learn comes just before the guitar solo. The Beastie Boys all shout the name of the song, but there are stops and gaps that you need to match with the rest of the band. You need to play the crash and kick wherever the band does a hit, and then you need to play a strong 16th note fill on the snare drum before that guitar solo kicks in.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you’ll be playing the hi-hats in the verses and the ride cymbal in the choruses.
Two-Way Mirror – Loathe
Two-Way Mirror is a fantastic song to play if you want to picture yourself playing huge drums in a huge arena. It just sounds huge, and it’s great that the drum parts of this song are so easy to pull off.
The drum part is based on a two-bar groove that stays consistent for most of the song. The hi-hat and snare parts remain the same, while the bass drum rhythms change to match what the bass is playing.
There are a few 16th note snare drum fills to play, and you should make sure to play them as hard as you can to match the energy of the song. This would be a great track to practice your rimshots on the snare drum.
Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
While Smoke on the Water makes a lot of guitarists cringe when it comes to learning songs, it’s one of the most perfect songs for beginner drummers to play. This track has an incredible intro that builds and teaches drummers how to layer rhythms to add more depth.
The track starts with 16th notes being played on the hi-hat. That can be fairly tricky for many new drummers. The snare comes in after a while, and then the drums revert to a classic 8th note groove when the first chorus kicks in.
The multiple snare hits in the chorus groove also add variety to this song compared to the ones that we’ve looked at so far.
Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz
Here’s a funk rock classic. The most iconic part of this song is the intro guitar riff, and the drum part will have you playing strong quarter notes on the snare drum.
When the guitar harmony part comes in, you have one more round of quarter notes on the snare. You play a small fillafter those, and then you’re into the driving 8th note groove.
This track is incredibly fun to play, and you just need to learn the intro part and the verse groove to be able to play it. The intro part repeats in the song, so you’ll just be switching between that and the groove. You can then move your right hand to a cymbal in the latter parts of the tune.
What I’ve Done – Linkin Park
This track only has one two-bar groove that repeats throughout the whole thing, but it’s an important groove that will help a drummer develop two very important skills.
The first is being able to play a hi-hat choke. That’s when you open the hi-hats with your foot after you play them, and then you quickly press your foot down. You do that every time at the beginning of the two-bar groove.
The second skill is being able to play a snare drum on an offbeat count in the groove. The first snare drum lands on count 2, while the second one lands on the “and” of 3.
When you get the groove down, you just need to play it at varying levels of intensity according to where you are in the song.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
Come As You Are is yet another track to play drums to that has a straightforward 8th note groove. You’ll start with your right hand on the ride cymbal, and then you’ll move it to the hi-hat for all the verse parts.
You’ll keep your bass drum matching most of the rhythms that you hear from the guitar. It’s a great tune to get your bass drum foot working.
We Will Rock You – Queen
We Will Rock You is such an easy song to play on the drums that anyone could play through the whole thing without knowing how to play any other drum beats. The original tune doesn’t have any recorded drums. It’s just stomps and claps, but you can transfer those rhythms over to the drum set.
You’ll play two bass drums in a row, and then you’ll follow those with a single snare drum. You repeat that throughout the whole song while Freddie Mercury is singing. You can add a crash cymbal every now and again to signal the chorus.
Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
Here’s an all-time classic that never gets old. The whole song just has a laidback 8th note groove, but the trick is that you’ll be playing 16th notes on the hi-hat with your one hand. The tempo is quite slow, so it’s an excellent track to help you work on that skill.
You just need to watch the videos of James Gadson playing this with Bill Withers to see how much fun a drummer can have with it.
The Less I Know the Better – Tame Impala
Here’s one of the more modern options on this list to play. This song has been a huge hit ever since it was released, and it has a very strong drum groove that drives it.
You’ll just be playing an 8th note rock beat, but there are a few parts in the song where you’ll need to play quarter notes on the snare drum before switching to a new section.
You don’t even need to move your right hand away from the hi-hat for the whole song, adding to its simplicity.
Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
Here’s a song to play that isn’t in straight 4/4 time. Instead of counting to four every bar, you’re going to count to six. You’ll play hi-hats on every count, but you’ll only play your bass drum on count 1 and your snare drum on count 4.
This is one of the best songs to play that will get you accustomed to playing in 6/8 or 12/8 time. These are the second most popular time signatures after 4/4, as they’re often used in pop and rock music.
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
Gimme Shelter is another track with a straightforward 8th note groove to play for most of the song, but the most interesting part about this track is the intro groove. While it’s difficult to hear in the recording, you can see footage of Charlie Watts jamming this intro at several live shows.
The intro groove is the best part of the song, as it will have you playing your snare drum on the offbeats to create a cool echoing effect. You’ll also start the song with your right hand playing the ride cymbal.
Once the intro ends, you’ll be back on the hi-hat with the standard 8th note beat.
Final Thoughts on Easy Drum Songs for Beginners
Most of the songs that we mentioned make use of the beats that you learn in the early days of drumming. It just shows you how usable those grooves are, and the best thing you can do is play them to songs with various tempos to improve your overall musical application.
Once you’ve learned how to play all these songs, you should find ones with more challenging drum parts. Just make sure that you remember how to play all of these. That will ensure that your abilities are stretched and you continue improving with your playing.
Our final tip is to also make sure you’re protecting your ears when you jam to these tracks. Never put the volume too loud in your headphones, and always make sure that you’re using ear protection if you’re playing the songs through speakers.