While switching radio stations on the commute to work, you hear a song you've never heard before—except you're positive you have. Certain tonal elements sound familiar, but the melody, tempo, and lyrics are different and so are the vocals. The Globe's Marc Hirsh describes this sonic commonality as the "sensitive female chord progression (SFCP)." For a music theory refresher, that term refers to the I-V-vi-IV chord progression or any pattern using those four chords consecutively. Artists fond of recycling that particular chord progression merely alter its key and tempo and add new lyrics for originality's sake.
It's so common, in fact, The Axis of Awesome comedy band mocked the industry's love affair with I-V-vi-IV in a mash-up performance called "Four Chord Songs," showing just how many popular hits use this progression. Here we found a few P&P regulars guilty of abusing the "sensitive female chord progression." And despite the term's misogynistic implications, there are lots of men on the list.