Are you ready to learn how to write a chorus that will captivate your listeners and build your fan base? Writing an effective chorus is easier than you think. You’ll soon see that many share similarities when listening to hit songs.
Whether you’re trying to write pop, indie, country, or rap choruses, if you follow the following 9 tips, you’ll be well on your way to better hooks and a great song.
As with anything creative, rules are always meant to be broken. So use this as a guide, but always be bold and do what feels right. If that means breaking one of these rules, go for it!
Alright, let’s get started!
#1 Get to the Chorus Quickly
“Don’t bore us; get to the chorus!”
The average attention span of a human in 2023 is 8.25 seconds. This is .75 seconds LESS THAN a goldfish!
So whether you like it or not, you must follow some pop music tropes and get to your song’s chorus as fast as possible.
Some of the biggest hits in the past few years have skipped the verse and started with the chorus.
Even if you’ve crafted the perfect song chorus if you make your listeners wait, you’ll be punished with a skip.
#2 What’s The Point of Your Whole Song?
Chorus lyrics need to drive home a clear and concise point.
If your verse provides detail and sets the tone of your song, your chorus has to consolidate the lyrical theme painted and use it to drive the main point home.
Think of songs like Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero.” The name Anti-Hero doesn’t mean much on its own. But within the context of the song’s other lyrics, this title takes on a deep and clever meaning when she finally sings, “Must be exhausting always voting for the Anti-Hero.”
#3 Repetition Makes a Catchy Chorus
A simple chorus melody with repeating phrases will stick in your listener’s head more than a complicated one.
When it comes to chorus writing, consider writing in a step-wise motion and never make huge interval jumps, be too wordy, or have complicated rhythms.
If you can keep your lyrics as a simple phrase, it will be easier to create repetition that isn’t boring. A great example of this done right is Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”
#4 The Chorus Length Matters
For most hit songs in a 4/4 time signature, you will notice that the choruses are usually 8 bars long. Sometimes the first chorus will only be 4 bars to give the listener a taste but keep the song’s momentum moving forward.
8 bars is a good song chorus length that allows you to re-enforce the main melody and build up to the main lyrical point you’re trying to communicate to your listener.
#5 Make the Rhythm Natural
If you want to know how to write a chorus that won’t leave people’s heads, write the rhythm to a natural speaking cadence. You are making it too complicated if you can’t talk out just the lyrics without sounding natural.
This doesn’t mean you only sing in short phrases. You can still write drawn-out musical notes, but ensure they have a natural speaking pattern (even with space between them).
This may be hard to conceptualize from an article, but listen to some of your favorite songs and try and talk out the chorus. Does it still feel right even though you aren’t singing it?
If you want killer choruses that will easily connect with your audience, make sure that your writing is in a natural speaking rhythm.
#6 Be Intentional About Your Chord Progression
To write lyrics with a strong melody and great rhythm is 1/2 the battle of writing great choruses. The underlying chord progression can make or break a catchy song and help you convey the emotion you’re trying to communicate to your listeners.
You can leverage some basic music theory to create tension and resolve when trying to write a song’s chorus. For example, if you have an eight-bar chorus, you could use the 4-chord of your scale to cadence the 4th bar going into the 5th. Then on the cadence of the last 4 bars, switch that progression to the 5-chord.
Both 4 and 5 chords resolve into the 1-chord of the scale. However, the 5-chord has greater tension than the 4-chord, so these subtle variations can make a good chorus great.
If the idea of a chord pattern or music theory hurts your head (don’t worry, it still hurts mine a little as well), you should check out my dedicated article, “The Ultimate Guide on Music Theory for Musicians Who Dislike Theory” for a deeper dive.
#7 Production & Arrangement Helps Build Momentum
Let’s face it, some pop music is the same chord pattern on loop. The verse, pre-chorus, chorus…all the same!
The reason why these songs are popular is that the production & arrangement techniques are on point.
There are subtle production techniques you can easily implement into your songwriting process to make a better chorus that sticks in listeners’ heads.
Some chorus ideas to try are:
- If your chorus is 8 Bars, introduce a new rhythmic element (like a shaker or tambourine) on the last 4 bars.
- Between lyrical phrases, have an instrument do a counter-melody
- Use vocal harmonies to accentuate certain words in the chorus
You can use countless different production tricks to craft a catchy chorus. The best thing you can do is study songs that jump out at you and listen to what the music producer did to bring the song to life.
#8 A Re-Intro Will Make a Great Chorus Stand Out
What’s a Re-Intro?
A Re-Intro is a short musical motif that comes after the chorus and before the next verse. This motif can be a powerful section to reinforce the song’s thesis statement.
A great way to think of the Re-Intro when writing music is to use the 8 bars of the chorus to build up to the main phrase that gets repeated in the Re-Intro.
An example of this would be in the song “Run” by OneRepublic.
#9 Get Outside Feedback
This may be one of the most critical tips on this list. As songwriters, we tend to lose all objectivity over any music we labor over.
It’s like Stockholm Syndrome; the more we live with a musical idea, the harder it is for us to find any faults…even if what we write is sub-par.
It would be best if you got an outside opinion from someone who will be honest with your creation. Frequently you will get feedback that can take your chorus writing to the next level.
You can also use this as a litmus test if you have written a killer hook. Play your chorus and see if the listener can repeat the melody or tell you what the lyric was. If they can sing it back to you, you know you’re well on your way to writing an effective chorus.
The Bottom Line
By now, you should better understand how to write a chorus that captivates your listeners.
But remember, even though there are ways to write effective hooks, ultimately, you should do what feels right for you and your song. After all, you’re the artist! So trust your gut, get creative, and have fun.
If you need more help with writing songs or expanding your creativity, we have plenty of resources that deep-dive into the songwriting process you can check out here:
- How to Write a Song in 5 Simple Steps
- How to Write Better Lyrics For Songs: The Ultimate Guide
- How to Write a Melody That is Catchy and Awesome
- 21 Awesome Songwriting Tips For Beginners and Advanced Musicians
- The Ultimate Guide to Rhyming in Songs Like a Pro
- Use Harmony in Music to Bring Vibrancy and Depth To Your Songwriting
- Everything You Need To Know About Rhythm in Music As a Songwriter
Thanks for reading, and happy songwriting!