A veteran gave me an invaluable piece of advice about the choruses. He said if a six year old can’t sing it, there is no point in writing it. Memorability is the most important quality for a hit chorus. So today’s question is..
How to Write A Catchy Chorus
Here are the six easy steps to write the most catchy chorus.
- A chorus should contain a call to action.
- A chorus should be repetitive.
- A chorus should have fewer notes.
- A chorus should have less words.
- A chorus should have simple and repetitive rhythm.
- A chorus should contain very specific message.
So, based on these six steps, you will be able to write a very catchy chorus in less time!
Let’s have a detailed look at each step…
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A Chorus Should Contain A Call to Action
You know the cheesy late night telemarketing show where you get to hear, “yeah you need to pick up the damn phone and order this belt right now cuz it will melt away your fat whether you never move an inch!”
Well, calling the chorus an advertisement would not be wrong at all when all that a chorus is doing is selling your song and its message!
That message has to be a call to action!
There is no doubt about that.
It should tell the listener or the other character of the song exactly what to do or to take an action or just do something.
Look, this works subconsciously. Our brains pick up such message as an order.
Taking order is easily interpreted by our brains and hence it gets right inside it because orders are very simple and to the point phrases.
Whether it is a song like Be Humble by Kendrick Lamar or Let Me Love You by Justin Bieber. Both the songs have a call to action which are to the point commands.
There is no complexity in commands. Hence our brain will interpret them at once and they won’t be forgotten. Can you forget such simple phrases?
Not in this world!
You will never have to listen to them again to recall these choruses.
This is why it is very much important that the choruses should have a call to action. Try it and see for yourself!
A Chorus Should be Repetitive
Whether you have a call to action or not, the message should be like a real advertisement. You should literally show your advertisement again and again.
Do you remember any advertisement that you saw just once?
Most advertising companies keep this in mind. They want to throw the ads on you as many times as they can!
That’s how something gets stuck in the mind.
So whenever you think of that product, you recall the ad and as a result you buy it!
You want to repeat the main message of your song for a minimum of two times. It can be one word or a short phrase. I assume that you have heard Gucci Gang by Lil Pump.
Ok if not, just go and hear it once.
When you come back, just think about what part of the song is still stuck in your head.
Lil Pump has repeated the phrase Gucci Gang so much, and it works! Can you apply that formula in your next hit? Why not?
Also read – How To Write Melody for Chorus – In 8 Easy Steps
A Chorus Should Have Very Few Notes
Yes! I cannot convince you enough how much important this one is!
Having 2 to 3 notes in a chorus per bar for at least three bars can make your chorus very addictive to the listener!
If you hear Damn I Love Miami by Pitbull, you’ll know what I am talking about.
The chorus of the song has three notes and the chorus is so addictive that once you hear it and I bet you’ll walk out humming it.
What happens is, when you have notes so few, it does three things:
- It is easy to repeat it.
- It eliminates complexity so its easy to slip inside the brain.
- It becomes so simple that even a six year old can sing it.
I give you another example to listen to. If you listen to We On by Chris Brown, it has only two notes! The phrase We On continues to go on in the chorus and both the words are two different notes.
This song is insanely catchy!
You can even apply this to long phrases or sentences in your chorus. You can sing the whole sentence with just two notes. Break the sentence in a block of two words and assign one note to one word.
For example, lets make up a sentence- Baby I think I Love You Too.
This could be the worst line you must have heard I know. Sorry for that.
Lets take A minor key. I will sing Baby in the root note A and I in the third note C.
Again Think in A and I in C and Love in A and You in C and the last Too in A.
You get the point? That’s how with only two notes, you can make even a long sentence catchy! The whole sentence will be sung with only A and C in A min key.
Try it you’ll be amazed that it still gets stuck in your head.
Not a problem if you take three notes. Just keep a few notes only. Avoid complexity!
A Chorus Should Have Less Words
The human brain is made to save energy. It will always look ways to save energy. Our brain avoids working hard and this can be realized with songs as well.
What does this mean?
Actually a song is not important for survival, hence the brain will avoid focusing on such things. To make it focus, or atleast slip something inside it, we need to eliminate redundancy.
Packing a song with too many words makes it tedious to focus on for the human brain which is inherently distracted. But things can change if we give it an easy task.
Instead of too many words, a short phrase of two to three words can be dramatic. This two to three words can be categorized into – a call to action, a specific statement or a question.
Phrases that fall under these three categories make a direct impact on the human mind.
They get in without facing any resistance. One thing though.. avoid vague lyric in the choruses! ..just a pro tip. Be exact. Say exactly what you intend to. The message should be clear.
A Chorus Should Have A Simple and Repetitive Rhythm
Needless to say, simplicity doesn’t drain energy of our brains. When our brain doesn’t have to work, it enjoys. Stuff that requires effort will be repelled by human mind.
If you are writing a chorus and taking every above step, it is equally important that you make the rhythm of your chorus stay simple.
I’ll again take the example of We On by Chris Brown.
Notice how those two words have such a simple rhythm. They are just two words and nothing more. They follow da-daaaa da-daaaa da-daaaa da-daaaa da-da-daaa.
Having such a simple rhythm will make even the rhythm memorable.
Even in some rare case you happen to forget those two words, you’ll still be left with the rhythm stuck in your head.
Having few words, few notes, repetitiveness and a simple rhythm, each contributing to the memorability of the song, will make the song as catchy as hell!
The way the words are spoken itself has a rhythm to it. That is the best rhythm to take.
Even if you are making it yourself, just make sure you have it very simple, natural and repeating.
A Chorus Should Contain Very Specific Message
I gave a hint about this in the earlier section. By making a song, we are trying to play with the psychology. We want our listeners to enjoy the song and feel a connection with it.
We want to touch them with it. We are doing this with words. Words have meaning.
When people are just looking for a song in their Spotify or other platforms, they want to be convinced by the message of the song.
Now you as a song writer has an opportunity to make your message convince your listener. To convince someone, you want to talk straight and to the point.
If you love a person, you should say I love you.
Saying that you admire how they walk, talk, smile will only make them feel you like them to that extent. But you have to say you love them if you love them!
If you cannot live with your partner anymore, saying things that doesn’t make a point will only waste time. Although there you have days or even months.
But a song has only a few seconds to make a point!
Be clear in your choruses.
The message in the chorus should be understood as soon as it is heard! Its like archery. If you have to shoot an apple, you have to shoot an apple!
Or you lose! Simple as that.
Don’t put vague material in the chorus at least. Be specific and exact.
Say exactly what the point of your song is. Because again, if you speak vaguely, it exhausts the brain in understanding the meaning of it.
This is not an era where you make people sit to understand the meaning of your song.
With the above steps, if it is easy to understand, it will get inside the mind easily and will stay there.
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How to Write Chorus Lyric
Understanding the above formula for a catchy chorus, you can write the chorus lyric with this easy trick:
- Pick a theme for your song & write its story in four simple regular sentences.
- Improvise and sing your chorus melody in the form of la la la la on your track. Record it.
- Now you have the recording of your chorus in the form of la la la la. Let’s call it our mould. We’ll pour our four regular sentences into this mould to take the final shape. Stay put things will be clear soon.
- Play the chorus back with your recording and try to fit your first regular sentence into the first line of the mould. Simply replace the first line la la la la with your first sentence.
- Modify your sentence by changing its wordings and its length to fit the mould but keep the melody, rhythm and syllables exactly the same as your mould. Remember the mould is final and we are shaping our regular lines according to it.
- So you wrote the first line. Now for the next line choose a last word to rhyme with the first line’s last word.
- Now try to fit the second sentence you wrote into the mould’s second line just like you did with the first.
- Come up with the rhyming word for the next line and fit this sentence into the mould as well.
- Do this till your four lines are finally shaped according to the mould.
So there you have it! You have written your chorus lyric effortlessly!
When you write a song, besides giving it all sincerity and effort, make sure that from now on you follow the six steps mentioned in this article.
It is ridiculously easy to follow and will surprise you.
On top of that, this trick is followed by professionals and has produced countless hits!
Remember, you should try to make a song so simple and addictive that even a six year old can sing it!