The chorus is the memorable part of the song that is repeated several times after the verse. The chorus is typically the most memorable section of a song that contains the biggest “hook” and is usually very catchy. The main line of a chorus is usually chosen as the title of the song. Refrain is another word meaning chorus.
Choruses get stuck in your head
The chorus is the part of the song that will get stuck in your head. Choruses contain the most memorable lyrics and melodies of the entire song.
If you have a song stuck in your head, it’s probably the chorus that keeps repeating over and over again! When the chorus is stuck in your head, this is called an “earworm.”
If you want to write catchy songs that get stuck in people’s heads, learn how to write really great choruses! Because the chorus is the part of the song that gets stuck in peoples head, it’s usually chosen as the title of the song.
Just as an experiment, think of the names of your favorite songs. The name of the song is probably contained within the chorus. For example, “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Oops, I Did It Again,” “Ghostbusters,” “Give It Away,” “Beat It,” the list goes on and on!
Choruses take up most of the song
Choruses are usually the most satisfying and interesting part of the song. They repeat several times, usually 3 to 4 times per song.
In modern pop music (I’m including rock, rap, and other popular styles as “pop music”), the chorus will make up the majority of the song.
The main melody and lyrics of the chorus can be repeated in other places of the song also such as in the Intro or in the Outro of the song.
One of the reasons the chorus is repeated several times throughout the song is because people like things that are familiar. In psychology this is called the “mere-exposure effect.” This means you will like something more simply by being exposed to it. (This is why political slogans are repeated over and over on TV, and so on.)
So if you have a section of your song that is interesting and catchy you’ll want to hear it over and over again.
Around three or four times tends to be just the right amount of repetition to feel satisfied with the song but without overdoing it or boring the listener.
Not all choruses have lyrics / words
Though the chorus is the most memorable part of the song, it doesn’t mean that the chorus has to have any lyrics.
Sometimes the chorus is a musical section that contains an interesting musical part or sound effect.
This is repeated over and over after the verses and in between the other sections. This is most common in electronic music. Sometimes you can hear this in pop songs or rap songs also.
It’s simply a musical section of the song that serves the same purpose as a chorus – it’s catchy and memorable. For this reason is repeated several times.
The catchiest part of a song is the chorus
Most choruses are very catchy and memorable. This explains why the songwriter would want to repeat it several times throughout the song.
When you’re writing a song of your own, oftentimes the first lyric or melody you’ll come up with is the chorus. It’s just the “main idea” you come up with first.
Of course, this isn’t always the case, but many songwriters find the chorus first, then build the rest of the song around that.
The verses and other parts of the song work to support the idea that you’re expressing with the chorus.
The main melody and theme are contained in the chorus – It’s the main message of the song
Have you ever heard the story of the record label that made the band change the name of their song?
It’s more common than you might think. Some quick examples:
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes
“Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” by Aerosmith
The reason this usually happens is because the songwriter names the song something unusual or not directly related to the content of the song.
(Or maybe they just wanted the song to have a unique title so it wouldn’t be confused for another song.)
The chorus is typically the most memorable part of the song.
When somebody requests a song it’s common to just say, “The one that goes like this” and then they’ll sing part of the chorus. This is why songs usually have the same name as the chorus.
Here are some examples of songs and tell me if it doesn’t bring to mind the chorus: “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion. “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston. “Diet Mountain Dew” by Lana Del Rey. “Help!’ by the Beatles. “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver. “My Name Is” by Eminem.
See what I mean?
Not all songs contain choruses, but it’s the most popular format in modern music.
Conversely, some songs are made up of only choruses. Folk songs and nursery rhymes, for example.
You might be surprised to learn that not every song has a chorus. However, most modern pop music that you hear on the radio does contain a chorus. This is a trend in songwriting that has been going on for the last hundred years or so.
If you listen to older styles of music, Folk music for example,you’ll notice that they don’t exactly follow the same structure as modern pop songs.
You probably know quite a few of the songs already. Just think of nursery rhymes and other songs you learned as a child. When the songs were composed this was a common songwriting structure.
Part of the challenge of writing a song without a chorus is that the verses will need to be very interesting to hold the listener’s attention throughout the course of the song.
In order to do that the song writer uses different techniques like wordplay and interesting lyrical choices so that the person listening to the song is satisfied and pays attention.
It might be telling to realize that many of the folksongs and nursery rhymes that we learned as children actually have multiple verses, but nowadays we only remember the first verse or so.
This might just be because the songs aren’t as popular anymore, but I think that it has to do with our modern preferences for how we like our songs to be.
Bonus: Here are some of the biggest and most memorable choruses ever (with my thoughts added)
Most people instinctively know what the chorus of a song is, they just might not know that it’s called a chorus.
Here are some of the most popular choruses in recent pop music.
Underneath each song are some of my thoughts about why I think this chorus works.
You’ll notice that not every song uses the chorus in exactly the same way. You’ll even notice that certain genres of music prefer certain types of choruses.
A good example would be a electronic music, or any kind of dance music that emphasizes the rhythm and beat above lyrics or melody.
Compared to rock music, country music, or any kind of folk music you’ll notice the chorus is used in a different way because these genres emphasize melody and lyrics that contain stories or lyrical themes that repeat.
It helps to listen to music in many different styles because it’ll help you come up with interesting ideas in your preferred genre even if you never and for writing music in any other style.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
Chances are by the title of the song alone know what the chorus is. Unfortunately most radio stations played this song to death. Why? Because of the super catchy chorus.
I’m curious – do you know any of the verses? Most people don’t memorize the verses to songs. (You’ll notice this is true if you’ve ever been to a karaoke night and the singer can only confidently sing the chorus.)
Part of what makes this chorus work so well is that it’s fun to sing (not just listen to), it’s something that we might say in our daily lives, and the production makes the vocals really stand out.
Rihanna – “Umbrella”
The song is especially interesting to me because the part that people remember the most Is the hook at the end of the chorus. You know what I’m talking about, it’s the “-ella” part that repeats over and over.
This is a classic example of an earworm, that’s the particular part of the song that just gets stuck in your head and you can’t seem to get it out.
If you’d like to write songs that are super catchy it’s helpful to listen to other songs that are very catchy and understand why they work. In a way, this song has two choruses.
Another part that’s interesting about this song is that the “-ella” lyric isn’t even a complete word. This shows how a singer and producer can creatively interpret the lyrics to create something that’s interesting and fun to listen to.
Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”
One thing you might have never noticed about the chorus to this song that it’s mosty the singer howling for the first part. That’s what makes this chorus so fun to sing along to.
It kind of resembles the sounds one might make during a session of passionate lovemaking. OK – I’m sure that sexual innuendo is a huge part of what makes it work. When the song was popular on the radio, I have to admit I got pretty sick of listening to it.
Looking back on it now it’s clear why this chorus worked. It was a big, loud chorus that soared above the subdued and less dramatic verses.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen (Famous song without a chorus)
I would be impressed if you could identify the chorus in this song by the progressive rock band Queen. Why? Because the song doesn’t actually have a true chorus.
This is a great example of a famous song that doesn’t use a chorus. Rhapsody is a specific songwriting style that is intentionally free-flowing and not repetitive at all.
You’ll notice that even though it doesn’t have a chorus it’s still very interesting to listen to and holds your attention throughout the full SIX minutes. (Most pop songs are only about three and a half minutes long.)
You might say the song is able to get away with it because it’s written in a progressive rock style, which favors complicated musical parts and interludes.
The musicianship and Freddie Mercury’s amazing singing abilities are able to hold your attention even though there isn’t a familiar chorus that repeats.