What is a Chorus in a Song?

When you think about your favorite songs, what’s the one thing they all have in common? Yup, you guessed it: an insanely catchy chorus. You know the part – the one that gets stuck in your head for hours (or days) on end. Whether you’re into pop, rock, R&B, country, hip hop, or reggae, a great chorus can take a song from good to unforgettable.

But what exactly is a chorus in a song, and why is it so darn important? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about choruses – what they are, what they do, and why they’re the ultimate earworms. Plus, we’ll throw in a few examples so you can hear the magic for yourself. Are you ready to dive in? Let’s go!

What is the Chorus of a Song?

You know that part of a song that gets stuck in your head all day long? That’s the chorus! It’s the part of a song that gets repeated at least twice, usually between verses. Sometimes, there’s even a pre-chorus before it.

When it comes to the lyrics, the chorus tends to stay the same every time it’s repeated. Meanwhile, the verses are where the real storytelling happens, with new lyrics being introduced.

The chorus is often the most memorable part of a song. That’s because it’s where the emotion and energy really ramp up, with big vocals and instrumentation. To make it stand out, the chorus is usually different from other parts of the song. It can even have a short build-up leading up to it. Some songs even jump straight into the chorus without a proper intro. And if there’s no separate outro, the chorus can end the song with a fade-out.

But here’s something interesting: not all songs have a chorus! Some songs have more elaborate or unusual structures that leave out the chorus entirely. A few examples are “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, and “Hey Jude” by The Beatles.

Difference Between a Chorus and a Refrain

If you’ve ever been confused about the terms “chorus” and “refrain” when it comes to songwriting, we’ve got some good news for you – they’re basically the same thing!

Both “chorus” and “refrain” refer to a part of a song that gets repeated, often containing the main musical and lyrical themes of the piece. Musicians and songwriters tend to use the terms interchangeably, although you might hear “chorus” more often in musical conversations.

6 Elements of A Good Chorus

If you’re looking to write a catchy chorus, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Here are two important elements that you’ll want to consider:

1. Repetition

Have you ever found yourself singing along to a song, even though you don’t know all the words? That’s the power of repetition. By repeating certain phrases or lyrics in the chorus, you can create a memorable hook that sticks with your listeners. 

Not only that, but repetition can also be a powerful poetic device, emphasizing the importance or omnipresence of your song’s subject or mood. Just think of your favorite songs and how often the hook phrase is repeated.

2. Rhyme Scheme

Let’s face it, rhyming words make lyrics sound better and stick in your head. And when it comes to choruses, using a good amount of obvious and internal rhyme can create memorable phrases that you’ll find yourself singing long after the song is over. So, if you want to write a strong chorus, make sure to incorporate some solid rhyme schemes that sound sonically pleasing.

3. Melody

When it comes to catchy choruses, melody is everything. It’s what we remember and hum along to. And even if the chord progression is the same as the pre-chorus or verse, a new melody can instantly spice up the atmosphere and keep the listener engaged. Lyrics are important, but it’s the melody that truly determines whether or not they’re heard. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different melodies until you find the perfect one for your chorus.

4. Vulnerability

One reason we connect with music is because it taps into our emotions. A chorus that is honest and vulnerable can be especially powerful, touching listeners on a deep level. So when you’re writing your chorus, don’t be afraid to open up and be real with your lyrics. Your fans will appreciate the authenticity and may even relate to your message on a personal level.

5. Relevance

A great chorus needs to fit within the context of the song’s overall narrative. A chorus can’t just be a catchy phrase or melody that doesn’t relate to the rest of the lyrics. Instead, it should be the climax of the story, revealing something that was built up in the verses. Think of songwriters as storytellers, using lyrics, rhythm, and melody to create an arc that leads to the chorus.

6. Memorability

A great chorus should be memorable. It should stand out from the rest of the song and be unique in some way, whether it’s through an unexpected chord change, a strong beat, or jarring word choice. If you can make your chorus memorable while still fitting within the song’s context, you’re much more likely to grab a listener’s attention and keep them coming back for more.

How Is a Chorus Used in Songs?

There are a couple of ways that songwriters use choruses in their music. Here are some of techniques:

1. At the Beginning

This is often seen in the AABA song form where the A section is considered the chorus. An example of this is “I Got Rhythm” by George & Ira Gershwin which debuted in the Broadway show Girl Crazy. This song has become a popular standard in jazz music.

2. After the First Verse

This is commonly used in the ABAB form where the A section represents the verse and the B section represents the chorus. For example, Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” starts with the verse “Well I heard there was a sacred chord…” and then moves into the chorus. 

This format is also popular in hip hop, where rapped verses are followed by sung choruses, which then lead to the next rapped verse. In hip hop, the verse and chorus music is often the same but differences in vocal melody produce distinct sections. Some examples include “California Love” by 2Pac and “Regulate” by Warren G feat. Nate Dogg.

3. Before a Verse, Alternating Back and Forth

Sometimes, songwriters mix things up by inverting the ABAB form. The Beatles did this in their song “She Said She Said.” The tune contains two sections that alternate back and forth, but the first of these sections is clearly the chorus. ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” also follows this technique.

4. After a Pre-Chorus

Many songwriters add an additional section, called the pre-chorus, between the verse and the chorus. Oasis used this technique in their song “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” 

In this case, the verse and the chorus actually have the same chord progression, but with different vocal melodies. They are separated by a pre-chorus with a different progression that creates a natural build-up to the anthemic refrain of “So Sally can wait…”

5. Save It For The Very End

Some songwriters like to build anticipation by waiting until the end of the song to bring in the chorus. If you’re familiar with the song, you know the chorus is coming and the wait can be unbearable. But when it finally arrives, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. 

One example of a songwriter who is known for this technique is Paul McCartney, as seen in the song “Hey Jude.” Journey’s early hit “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin'” is another example of this method.

6. Throughout The Entire Song

Another way to use a chorus in a song is to repeat a single musical section throughout the entire song. This musical format is called the AAA song format, and some theorists call the repeated section a chorus, while others refer to it as a verse. 

The repeated section makes up the entire song, with variations each time it’s repeated. Examples of this technique can be found in Bob Dylan’s “Standing in the Doorway” and Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote.”

Different Types of Choruses

There are tons of different chorus types out there! But let me tell you, there are a few common structures that just keep popping up in music. Check it out, here are some awesome chorus types in popular music that you can totally use to make your own catchy tunes.

The Title Phrase

One of the most effective chorus techniques is to repeat the title phrase of the song in the chorus. This is a great way to create a hook that sticks in your head long after the song is over. For example, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” uses this technique to great effect.

The Punchline

Another way to create a memorable chorus is to build up tension throughout the song and then release it with a punchline in the chorus. This technique ties the title phrase back into the overall meaning of the song. Taylor Swift is a master at this technique, and you can hear it in many of her tracks.

The Beat Breakdown

In this type of chorus, the melody is carried by the instruments and samples rather than the vocals. A great example of this can be found in Zedd and Alessia Cara’s hit song Stay. The chorus in this song is made up of a catchy instrumental melody that’s easy to dance to. Sometimes, words aren’t even necessary to make a strong chorus!

The Repeated Phrase

This type of chorus is made up of a couple of repeated words and a catchy melody. Even though it may seem simple, it can be very effective in getting a song stuck in your head. Lolo Zouai’s song High Highs to Low Lows is a great example of this type of chorus. The title of the song is repeated throughout the chorus, creating a memorable and catchy hook.

Chorus FAQs

Are you curious about the chorus and its role in music? Here are some frequently asked questions to help expand your knowledge:

What is the purpose of a chorus in a song?

The chorus serves as the most memorable part of a song, often containing a hook or catchy refrain that sticks in a listener’s mind. This section usually expresses the main idea of the song, and it can draw the listener back to the track.

Why is it called a chorus?

The term “chorus” originally referred to the section of a song where multiple singers would join in on a melodic line. Today, the catchiest part of a song is called the chorus because it’s most likely to be sung by listeners.

Is a chorus the same as a choir?

Technically, the chorus can refer to the section where everyone or the full choir joins in. However, the term “chorus” can also just refer to the catchy section of a song that doesn’t necessarily have to contain multiple voices as you would find in a choir.

Does every song need a chorus?

No, not every song needs a chorus. While a chorus is a common element of most songs, there are exceptions. For example, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a successful song that doesn’t have a chorus.

How do you find the chorus of a song?

Typically, the chorus is the part of the song that is repeated several times throughout the song. In most pop songs, you can find the chorus between two verses or a pre-chorus and the following verse.

Do rap songs have a chorus?

Yes, rap songs do have a chorus! Although it might not be sung, there is usually a repeated section in a rap song that is memorable and sticks with the listener. Additionally, some rap songs may also include a sung chorus despite the rest of the song being spoken.

What makes a good chorus?

A good chorus is catchy, memorable, and sonically pleasing. It can achieve this through a strong rhyme scheme, a memorable melody, and relatable lyrics that connect with the listener.

How long should a chorus be?

There’s no set length for a chorus, but it’s common for it to be a few bars long, usually between 2 to 8 bars. Most choruses have an even number of bars to make it easier to create a rhyme scheme that works well.

Do all songs need a chorus?

No, not all songs need a chorus. Some songs may rely more heavily on verses or have a different structure altogether. However, if you’re aiming to create a pop track or a song that’s easy to remember, a catchy chorus can be helpful.

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