In my last post, I walked you through the verse writing process which is – for the most part – all about storytelling. So, if in the verse you’re telling your listeners a story, your chorus is all about telling those same listeners why they should care about the story you just told them.
The Chorus Is The Main Message of Your Song
Think of your chorus as the main message of your song. It’s the deceptively simple summary of what you’ve been leading up to in your verse. Choruses are simple but NOT subtle. The analogy I like to use is that the chorus is where you tie your song’s message to the end of a baseball bat and beat people with it.
A Chorus Uses A Hook
The way choruses get your listeners’ attention is through the use of a songwriting device called a hook. A hook is the catchiest, most memorable part of the chorus lyric that, figuratively, “hooks” your listeners’ interest and stays with them. You can also repeat your hook multiple times in the chorus for extra emphasis. And, often, your song’s hook also works best as the song’s title. Think of the Temptations hit, “My Girl,” for a classic example.
As I mentioned in my previous post on verse writing, I worked with a group of airline executives to help them figure out how to coordinate their disparate teams across the country. We chose the metaphor of birds flying south for the winter to communicate that message and I’ll include the verse again from the previous post.
Unless you’re the first bird flying south, the view won’t ever change
But heading away from the winter gray is more than just a game
It’s part of our survival, it’s what we’re meant to do
And you know you can count on me like I can count on you
And, now, the chorus…
If you’ve got my front, I’ve got your back
I may not know what’s coming but I’m sure we’re right on track
And you don’t have to turn around, I’ll take good care of that
Cause, Baby, if you’ve got my front, you know I’ve got your back
In the chorus lyric above, the main message of our song is about coordinating disparate teams. By describing a situation where a team works together to ensure their survival, we hammer home the main message. We also chose to start and end the chorus with the hook, “I’ve got your back” which also became the title of the song.
What I love about choruses is that the better you get at writing them, the more developed your ability to communicate in a concise, distilled manner becomes. And given that clear, impactful communication is essential for not only innovation but also for just about any endeavor, you’d be well-served to work on your chorus writing skills.
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