Do Songs Need A Chorus?

There are so many amazing wonderful songs that absolutely do not have a chorus! A few that come to mind immediately:

Blackbird, by The Beatles

The Mother, by Brandi Carlile

America, by Simon & Garfunkel

Will You Love Me Tomorrow, by Carole King

And more recently, Nothing, by Bruno Major.

What these songs DO have instead of a chorus is a REFRAIN LINE—a line of lyric that repeats in almost exactly the same way in the verse sections (usually all of them). The refrain line is lyrically and musically a part of the verse; it’s not a separate section. But it often confuses the ear of a listener – they hear a repeating thing, and call it a chorus, even though a chorus is really something else.

The refrain line usually appears as the last line of a verse section (as in, “there’s nothin’ like doing nothin’ with you” in Bruno Major’s song); or as the first line (as in “I can hear my neighbours making love upstairs” in Neighbour Song by Lake Street Dive).

In this video tutorial, we take you through 2 different approaches to song form: those with a chorus, and those without, and explain how and why to use one or the other.

Our new online mini course — THE SONGWRITING PROCESS START TO FINISH — out now!

Leave a Reply