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How to Write The Perfect Chorus for Your Next Big Song

In Guides for Singers, Guides for songwritersby Jake LLeave a Comment

The chorus, one of the most, if not, the most important key to the success of your song. It usually summarizes the main message of the song with catchy lyrics and melody that can be stuck in the listeners’ heads for weeks to come. A great chorus brings your whole song together and can even make listeners feel like they are part of a collective that’s singing along. Well, how do you write a great chorus? While there are so many ways you can approach writing a chorus for your original songs, your main goal is to write something clear and catchy that listeners can pick up on easily. For the lack of a better word, an Earworm.

Writing your own original songs isn’t always the easiest thing to do and it can get frustrating if you’re stuck trying to figure out a good chorus. To help you out, we’re going to discuss different approaches you can take when making a chorus, as well as things to keep in mind.

The Main Message of Your Song

A song's main message inside a bottle that has washed up on shore.

If you’re having a hard time putting together a chorus for your song, then keep this in mind. The chorus is going to deliver the main message of your song to the listeners. Whatever your main message is, think of how you can deliver it in your song in as few words as possible in a way that people will easily catch on to.

This is basically where you’re going to start when you’re in the process of writing your chorus. It’s actually a good idea to establish the main message or meaning of your song before writing any lyrics down. You’ll have something to work with instead of writing lyrics blindly until something works.

Keep It Simple

You don’t have to write a chorus that has the most complex lyrical wordplay with meanings that takes hours to decipher. Often times its the simple and concise choruses that really stick with people, even for years to come. Take a look at Queen’s hit song, “We Will Rock You.” A classic song that’s been played for decades now.

We Will Rock You by Queen

Chorus:

We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you 

The chorus is straight to the point, catchy and easy to remember. A new listener could pick up the lyrics and melody to this chorus in a matter of seconds. Even though it’s a simple chorus, it definitely leaves an impact on listeners. I’ve seen gymnasiums filled with people chanting the chorus of this song in sync with each other.

Make it easy for your listeners to pick up on your chorus and sing along by making it simple and concise.

The Chorus Needs to Stand Out

It’s going to be really important that the chorus stands out from every other section of the song. This is going to be the most important part of your song, so of course, you’re going to want it to be distinguishable. It should be clear to the listener that they are listening to the chorus of your song, which can be achieved by having a different melody, chord progression, and lyrical style.

Start on a Higher Note

Having the melody of the chorus start on a higher note is a good way of having it stand out from the rest of the song. When listeners hear that higher contrast in the melody, it will signal to them that the chorus has arrived. It can also trigger them to be ready to sing along.

Vary the Instrumentation

Another great technique that you can use for your choruses is using instruments that aren’t found in any other part of the song. Try to add other instruments into the mix. This helps the chorus stand out and be more memorable.

You could even vary the combination of instruments used in each chorus. This allows each chorus to have its own unique sound, adding to the dynamics of the overall song. Just make sure it’s following the melody that you have established for your chorus.

Change the Dynamics

If done properly, changing the dynamics between each chorus is a great way of building up the emotion and intensity of the song. This is often done in love songs but can be used in other types of music too.

Changing up the dynamics of your song is the key to making sure that your audience doesn’t get bored and tune out while listening. If your song is exactly the same throughout its entirety, the experience for the listener might be stale and boring. Make changes to the dynamics of your song to keep your listeners at the edge of their seats.

Think about how the chorus is sung. You could change up the dynamics by singing the chorus louder each time it comes around or even singing it in a higher key. Maybe even change up the tempo for each chorus. Make your song dynamic, constantly changing as it plays through. Your listeners won’t know what to expect next.

A Song With Chorus Variations

Lyrically, choruses are known for always featuring the same lyrics, repeating each time it comes around in the song. Breaking this rule is a great way of adding variety to your song, however, there are things to keep in mind in order for this to work.

If you plan to use this approach, you’re going to have to make sure that the variation in the lyrics you write for each chorus is significant. Each chorus has to offer something meaningful that still relates to the overall message of the song. Let’s take a look at an example.

Perfect by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran does a good job using this type of approach for the chorus in his song, “Perfect.” Here are the lyrics for each chorus. Lyrics that are in orange highlight the differences between each variation. The words that are green are the lyrics that are used to bring familiarity to the different chorus variations.

Chorus 1
Baby, I’m dancing in the dark with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
When you said you looked a mess, I whispered underneath my breath
But you heard it, darling, you look perfect tonight

Chorus 2

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark, with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful
I don’t deserve this, darling, you look perfect tonight

Chorus 3

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark, with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
I have faith in what I see
Now I know I have met an angel in person
And she looks perfect
I don’t deserve this
You look perfect tonight

The main message of this song is that the girl it’s about is perfect in every way. Even if the lyrics in the chorus change, even slightly, the message remains the same and is easy to figure out. “You look perfect tonight” was repeated in every chorus variation to bring familiarity and deliver the overall message repeatedly.

Where to Put Your Chorus

The placement of your chorus is something to really think about. A lot of the times, choruses come right after each verse. This is done to separate each verse of the song. In a sense it’s a way to take a break between each verse, allowing the listeners to take in all of the information they obtained from the lyrics they just listened to. While it can be simple to think of the chorus as that bit of the song that comes after the verse, there are other approaches you could try out.

Having the Chorus in the Beginning

You can place the chorus right at the beginning of the song. While many songwriters prefer having a build-up for their choruses, having it right at the beginning is a good way of establishing familiarity with an important piece of your song. When the chorus comes back around after each verse, the listener will already be familiarized with the sound. This will signal to them that this is the part they should prioritize in remembering.

Write a Pre-Chorus

If you would rather have a build-up before introducing your chorus, you should consider working in a pre-chorus. Having a good pre-chorus builds up the anticipation for your song’s chorus to arrive. It gets listeners excited for your chorus and signals to them that it’s almost time to sing along. Definitely a great way to transition to your chorus.

Take a look at Metallica’s hit song, Enter Sandman. The Pre-Chorus does an excellent job at building up the song so the listener is ready for the chorus.

Enter Sandman by Metallica 

Pre-Chorus:

Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight

Chorus:

Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
We’re off to never-never land

The Pre-Chorus elevates the mood of the listener in anticipation for the chorus. By the time the chorus arrives, the listener is already singing along to your song.

Repetition

Have you ever wondered why songs get stuck in people’s heads? Well, more often than not, it’s because of repetition. We often use repetition techniques to remember information when studying for an exam or for work. Having a repetitive chorus is a great way of having the lyrics really stick into the listeners’ heads.

Using the Title

Using the title of the song as the main part of your chorus is an easy, but effective approach. Not only do you knock out two birds with one stone (the title of the song and a catchy chorus), your chorus will help enforce people to remember your song’s title.

A good rule of thumb, if you decide to go with this approach, is to repeat the song’s title in the chorus two to three times. Like we already mentioned, repetition helps people remember information. If you write the chorus to repeat the same words two to three times, it will help enforce the importance of these lyrics, while also not being too repetitive.

Listeners will be able to pick up on the song much easier. Since the chorus is constantly repeating the title of your song in the lyrics, it’ll make it easier for people to remember the title. This will make it easier for listeners to find your songs if they want to listen to them at a later time. Even if they don’t know your song’s title prior to listening to it, for most people, they’ll normally associate the lyrics in the chorus to have the title of the song.

Let’s take a look at the chorus for Maroon 5’s hit song, “She Will Be Loved.” The song title repeats twice in the first chorus, signaling to the listener that this is an important piece of information that should be remembered.

She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5

Chorus:

I don’t mind spendin’ everyday 
Out on your corner in the pourin’ rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved, and she will be loved
And she will be loved, and she will be loved

In the later choruses, it repeats the title in the chorus four times instead of two, however, it’s done so to change the dynamics of the song. If you listen to the song, you will hear that it does this when it’s building up to the bridge and when the song is finishing up. It intensifies the mood that the listener will be feeling as they listen to the song.

Write a Post-Chorus

Post-choruses are becoming more and more popular. They’re used to help sustain the mood or hype that was created by your song’s chorus while also preparing the listener for the transition to the next verse.

Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Trouble” utilizes a Post-Chorus effectively, enforcing what was already said in the chorus.

Trouble by Taylor Swift

Chorus:

Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
So you put me down oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground

Post-Chorus

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

It’s a good way to enforce your song’s main message while at the same time adding more dynamics to your song. Try writing in a post-chorus and see if it works well with your song’s chorus. Not every song needs a post-chorus, but it can definitely make a huge difference when it works.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many different approaches on how you can write the chorus to your original song. Every song is different so try to experiment with the different approaches that we talked about in this article. Always remember that your main goal is to write a chorus that will get stuck in people’s heads. Whichever approach or technique you decide to go with to accomplish this goal is up to you! Best of luck on all of your future songwriting endeavors.

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