10 artists that have featured the accordion

Accordions are fun instruments. They can be used in classical music by artists like Tian Jianan or in concert by pop, rock, and folk groups. They’re so versatile that you never know when and where they might pop up.

Tian Jianan, bayan chromatic accordion

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Here’s our list of other accordion-playing artists to get you excited for Tian Jianan’s upcoming performance:

The Decemberists

The popular group from Portland dropped their latest album, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” in January of 2015, their 7th full-length and fourth with Capital Records. “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” is one of the group’s most popular songs during live performances, having been performed at nearly every live show since 2006 when it was released.

Arcade Fire

Canadian indie rock never sounded so good. Formed in 2001, Arcade Fire began touring in 2003 and have released 4 studio albums since 2004, the most recent being 2013’s “Reflektor.” This song, from their first album “Funeral,” was written about the 1950s space travel of Laïka, the first living creature to orbit the Earth.

Bruce Springsteen

“The Boss” himself has featured the accordion from time to time. In 1973 he released “The Wild, the Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle” to critical acclaim. Despite widespread commercial success, one song stands out. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” is a song about the boardwalk culture of the Jersey Shore and remains one of Bruce’s best-known early efforts and most popular ballads.

“Weird Al” Yankovic

The undistinguished “King of Parody,” “Weird Al’s” career has spanned nearly 5 decades. He’s sold over 12 million albums, recorded over 150 song parodies, and won 4 Grammy® awards, with 13 nominations total. On 12 of his 14 studio albums, Al has featured a “polka medley,” or an accordion-heavy mash-up of popular songs surrounding the album, such as 2011’s “Polka Face.”


Deriving their name from the Russian word for “girl,” Colorado-based DeVotchKa is a quartet that has been around since the late 1990s. They’ve released many studio albums, but one of their most notable is 2006’s soundtrack to the motion picture “Little Miss Sunshine,” on which the group provided the majority of the music. In 2011, they covered Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” adding in the accordion to pay tribute to the two-time “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” inductee.


Composed of 4 brothers from South Africa, alternative rock band Kongos have produced two albums, most recently the re-released “Lunatic.” With “Come With Me Now,” the group’s first number 1 on the U.S. Alternative chart, the group heavily features the accordion as both a lead into the lyrics and again later on as part of a solo.

Neutral Milk Hotel

Formed in the late 1980s, Neutral Milk Hotel was around for 10 years and also reunited for a farewell tour in 2013, which ended earlier this year. Although they only released 2 albums in the 10 years that they were together, they left a lasting impression. Their accordion song comes from “Fool,” an instrumental song from “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” which has been placed on many “best albums of all time” lists.

Oingo Boingo

This was the group that composer Danny Elfman was a part of before he became one of director Tim Burton’s biggest collaborators. The group released 8 albums between 1981 and 1994. “We Close Our Eyes” comes from their 6th studio album, “Boi-ngo,” and the song prominently features the accordion in the background.

They Might Be Giants

The Brooklyn-based alternative band They Might Be Giants (or TMBG for short) has been going strong since 1982. They’ve released 17 albums, sold over 4 million albums, and have won 2 Grammy® awards. From their certified platinum album “Flood” comes “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” a tune written in reference to the 1930 renaming of the famous city.

Counting Crows

From Berkeley, California, this rock band has been around since the early 1990s. In 2004, their song “Accidentally In Love” from “Shrek 2” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. In the video below for “A Long December,” you’ll hear plenty of accordion and you’ll also see a familiar face: Courteney Cox, best known as Monica from “Friends.”

Tian Jianan

Tian Jianan is a 21-year-old virtuoso of the bayan, a chromatic button-keyboard accordion. Her performance is part of the 2016 Chinese New Year celebration at Purdue. This evening will be a rare opportunity to capture a rising star and challenge your excpectations about the expressiveness of an instrument you only thought you knew.

FROM $15

Tian Jianan with her bayan chromatic accordion