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The Necessity of a Powerful Chorus Hook

I don’t at all want to give the impression that the chorus hook is so important that it makes whatever you do in a verse unimportant. It most certainly is important that everything you write is something people want to listen to.

But when it comes to standard pop song formats that use a series of verses with a repeating chorus, it’s vital that the chorus hook be something excellent.


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Another way of saying this is: a song with a less-than-captivating verse can be rescued by an excellent chorus hook. But it’s a lot harder for a song to succeed if the chorus hook is weak, no matter how great the verse is.

Where all this becomes important is in troubleshooting songs that don’t seem to be working. My advice to songwriters is to first and foremost put your attention on the chorus, and see if it’s working for you:

Troubleshooting the Chorus

  • Is the main part of the hook short and catchy?
  • Is it fun to sing and fun to listen to?
  • Does it sound great when repeated?
  • Does it have a message that connects with people?
  • Is the chord progression short and tonally strong?

If that’s all working, then perhaps it is the verse (and/or the pre-chorus) that needs help. In that regard, ask yourself the following:

Troubleshooting the Verse

  • Is there a sense of forward motion in your verse, where it sounds like it’s leading to something bigger?
  • Is the verse placed a bit lower in pitch than the chorus?
  • Is there a captivating sense of story, or some aspect of the verse lyric that needs to be answered in the chorus?

A well-written verse can make a chorus sound even better. A good verse builds musical energy that gets released in the chorus, and a good verse makes listeners believe that something even better is about to happen.

A bad verse doesn’t entice people to want to keep listening, so it’s tremendously important to write a verse that works. But when all is said and done, if you don’t follow it up with a great chorus, then everything you’ve done in the verse is wasted effort.

So the proper way to troubleshoot a song is to check your chorus first, then check your verse, and then examine how the verse moves into the chorus. Once all three elements are working properly, you’ve likely written a song that others will want to hear.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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One Comment

  1. Gary –

    I appreciate/respect your depth of musical knowledge and enjoy your conversational writing style!

    Thank you for sharing your ‘gift’ with me / us!!!

    Your ‘Songwriting’ set of eBooks is both a marvel and a bargain!

    In All Things Music,
    Richard

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