The chorus is the memorable or "catchy" part of the lyrics.
This is the part that gets stuck in people's head, sometimes for
years and even for the rest of their lives. Unlike the verses,
which set up the song and tell the story, the chorus tends to bring
home the point of the song.
Whereas a verse will change throughout the
lyrics, from beginning to end, the chorus stays the same
and finds its power through repetition throughout the song.
The hook is the memorable part of the chorus that most popular
lyric writers strive for and record companies demand in
order sell a song in today's marketplace. Few songs without
a hook will sell well.
Most often the hook will contain the title
of the song. This is not always the case, but in general
this is what sells well.
When someone hears a song on the radio and wants to buy it, they
will assume the memorable hook is the title of the song and search
for it using this assumption.
"Barracuda" by Heart, "Wild Thing" by The Troggs
and "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen all have memorable
hooks that are also the titles of the songs. A few others include
"Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles, "You're So Vain"
by Carly Simon and "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits.
The downside of these memorable "catchy" little hooks
is that sometimes a hook that you dislike will get stuck in your
brain for years. Hooks like "I've been through the desert on
a horse with no name" or "Abra-abra-cadabra / I want to
reach out and grab ya" in some people will cause near psychotic
reactions trying to unhook the hook from their cerebral cortexes.
But, this just shows the power of the hook and why songs that have
memorable hooks outdistance, outlast and outplay those that don't.
Now, in a song's verse, meter
and rhyme are important, but
in the chorus of the song, paying attention to meter and rhyme is
When writing memorable choruses it is also important to use poetic
devices to created images that get stuck in listeners heads. But,
if the meter and rhyme are off, then powerful images usually fall
short as the listener usually only hears the clunk or thud of the
badly written chorus.
Besides the standard poetic devices, some successful songwriters
also will use a name, color or cliché twist to make the chorus
memorable. The Beatles used all three techniques in "Hey, Jude",
"Yellow Submarine" and "Eight Days a Week" respectively.
As with verses, it is important not only to write choruses but
the rewrite them as well. Hone the chorus down to its most basic
and essential elements of rhyme, meter and imagery to make it the
most potent lyrically to the listener.