How to Write a Song – A Catchy Chorus

How to Write a Song – A Catchy Chorus

When it comes to songwriting, the chorus plays a crucial role in capturing the listeners’ attention and making a lasting impact. 

In this article, we will explore three essential tips that can help you create a chorus that hits hard and resonates with your audience. By implementing these strategies, you can elevate your songwriting skills and get closer than ever to writing that elusive earworm of a chorus.

This blog post aims to summarise the fourth part of our video ‘5 Simple Steps to Write Your First Song’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.

Changing The Chord Progression

To ensure that your chorus stands out and creates a sense of contrast, it’s important to experiment with different chord progressions. If you’ve already established a chord progression for your song, consider selecting a new progression for the chorus. This change will give the impression of the song moving somewhere else, and undergoing a shift in focus – which is exactly what we would want in the chorus.

For instance, if your verse follows a simple I-IV-V progression, try exploring other progressions like vi-IV-I-V or ii-V-I for your chorus. This alteration will create a fresh sonic landscape and engage your listeners by introducing a new musical direction.

However, you don’t necessarily have to introduce new chords. You could instead, try rearranging the existing chords in a different order. By using the same set of chords in a fresh arrangement, you can infuse your chorus with a sense of familiarity while still delivering a dynamic and engaging musical experience.

Here are some song examples of this below:

  1. “Someone Like You” by Adele:
  • Verse Chord Progression: A – E – F#m – D
  • Chorus Chord Progression: F#m – D – A – E
  1. “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi:
  • Verse Chord Progression: Em – C – D – Em
  • Chorus Chord Progression: C – G – D – Em – C – G – D

For more chord progressions to experiment with, click below to get instant access to the free PDF ‘3 Great Chord Progressions to Try in Your Next Song’:

Using High Notes

The melody of a chorus also plays a significant role in making it memorable and impactful. One effective technique is to ensure that the highest note of your song appears in the chorus. This choice emphasizes the climax of your composition and adds a powerful element to the overall sound.

Of course, be sure to consider the range of your vocal abilities or the instruments you’re using before selecting your highest note. The inclusion of a high note in the chorus helps create a moment of intensity and emotional release, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

To take it one step further, try to make that high note appear in the title of the song. This way, you can really highlight the focus of the song and drive home its point to your listeners.

Here are some song examples of this below:

  • “Love on Top” by Beyoncé
  • “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco
  • “Chandelier” by Sia

Include the Song Title

Be sure to try and incorporate the title as the first and last lines of the chorus. This reinforces the central idea behind the song and allows it to stand out. After all, the chorus isn’t just a different kind of verse. Instead, the chorus is a platform to showcase the essence of your composition, putting a spotlight on the theme and creating an unforgettable musical moment.

Here are some song examples of this below:

  • “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
  • “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
  • “Hotline Bling” by Drake


Repetition is a powerful tool in songwriting, especially when it comes to the chorus. The chorus is not simply a modified verse; it is the pinnacle of your song, where the central idea resides. To effectively emphasize this idea, repetition becomes key.

In addition to repeating the title, consider other elements you can repeat to strengthen the chorus. For example, you can repeat a catchy melodic motif, a compelling lyric phrase, or a rhythmic pattern. This repetition helps solidify the chorus as a distinct and memorable section of your song.

Here are some song examples of this below:

  • “We Will Rock You” by Queen
  • “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  • “Hey Ya!” by OutKast

Conclusion: How to Write a Song – A Catchy Chorus

Crafting a remarkable chorus requires careful attention to detail and a focus on specific elements that make it stand out. By experimenting with chord progressions, incorporating high notes, integrating the title, and using repetition, you can create a chorus that hits hard and resonates with your listeners.

Remember, the chorus is the heart of your song, and it deserves to shine brightly. So, be sure to use these strategies to write the best chorus you can.

However, this is just step 4 of a 5 step process. Check out the full article that outlines all 5 steps, or check out the video now

Turn your inspiration into beautiful songs with step-by-step guidance through two professional songwriting methods. By the end of this course, not only will your tool belt be stocked; you’ll have a plan and a method for finishing your songs – all of them.

How to use simple chords to write great songs

If you want to learn how to write a song, understanding how chords work is essential and in this video we look at how you can create interesting and impactful chord progressions using the basic concept of HOME and AWAY functions.

This fundamental piece of music theory is a valuable tool for songwriters of all levels, and requires nothing more than the basic major and minor chords of a major key.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The ‘I’ chord, also called the tonic, is our ‘home’ chord. It has the most weight of all the chords in a key. We can think of it as the center of the solar system in the major key.
  2. All the other chords are ‘away’ chords; they create tension, where returning to the tonic feels like resolving. It is the musical equivalent of a full stop.
  3. Since the tonic creates the strongest resolution, leaving the tonic OUT of a Verse section, and then using it as the first chord of our Chorus will actually create an incredibly strong impact. It is like night and day.
  4. By leaving the tonic out of the Verse, the impact of introducing it as the first chord of the Chorus is amplified. It can really make the chorus pop, and feel like it is landing with so much power and impact.

For 3 other variations on how to use simple chords to create great songs, check out our mini course, ‘The 5 Most Powerful Songwriting Exercises…Revealed!’ right here:

Top 5 Songwriting Exercises for Coming Up With Great Song Ideas: #5—Chorus Writing Prompts

What a Chorus is not

I have some important news about a Chorus—news that took me way too long to properly understand:

The Chorus of a song is not just the bit where the lyrics repeat!

If I had realized this a little sooner in my songwriting career, it would have saved me 10 years of learning the hard way.

One other thing that the Chorus is NOT:

The Chorus of a song is not just a summary of the main idea.

Thinking of it as the ‘summary’ idea is likely to lead you to write in generalities, or lead you to an idea that is the ‘average’ point of your story, emotion, or image. 

So what IS a Chorus?

The Chorus of a song is: the RESPONSE to the problem (or conflict, or tension) explored in the verses.

The Chorus houses the peak emotion, the central idea, or core message.

‘Peak emotion’ is critically different from ‘summary idea’. One stands at the top of the mountain; the other is halfway down.

So what kinds of responses are there?

  • The chorus is what most needs to be said.
  • The chorus may be the question that most needs to be answered.
  • The chorus may be the realization or insight that has been learned.
  • The chorus may be the decision that has been made, or the action that will be taken
  • Most importantly, the chorus is not just ‘another idea’, or even a ‘summary idea’, but it is a response to the problem exposed and developed in the verses. 

Chorus Writing Prompts

Below are a series of writing prompts, designed to drill straight to the core idea, central idea, or peak emotion of a song idea. 

Think of these prompts as jenga pieces; you need to push on each one to see which ones move. They won’t all move; but we need to push anyway.

How to use the prompts

The prompts are most effective when you have a song idea on the go; maybe you’ve written a verse or 2, or just some lyric sketches, but you have in your mind a sense of what this song is about, perhaps even a clear scene, situation, or moment in your mind, but no chorus lyrics.

Spend 2 minutes on each prompt. Even if it feels like it isn’t moving much, stick with it for 2 minutes. 

  1. So I realized…
  2. So I decided…
  3. So I’m going to…
  4. That’s why I always say…
  5. What I really need to tell you is…
  6. I’m scared that…
  7. What I really want to happen is…
  8. What I most want to know is (phrased as a question)…
  9. You make me feel…
  10. If I am a ________ then you are a ________ (use metaphor).

A few tips

  • Use for the Verses too: A lot of the writing you do for these prompts can make great lyrics and ideas for the verses too! You are not contractually obliged to use them exclusively in your Chorus. What you will often find, however, is that some of them drive to the emotion heart of your song idea, and are touching that core element that is essential to the Chorus.
  • Look for a Title: as you are exploring the Chorus writing prompts, keep a little searchlight on in your mind that is always looking for a title. It may not happen, but simply turning that light on will help you identify it if it arises as you are writing. This is a useful lens to use when reading over what you have written at the end of 20 minutes. 
  • Writing the Chorus first: Lots of songwriters will write the Chorus of a song first, before writing any of the Verses at all. This is a fun and effective way to write. You can try it out here too, by using your writing to the prompts, plus a strong song title, to craft your chorus, and then expand the Verse lyrics out of the Chorus idea.
  • Repetition is fine: Don’t worry if you find that you are repeating yourself in several of the prompts. Each prompt is a slightly different angle or lens to explore your song’s central idea through. Remember the jenga! Push each one, and see how it moves.

Happy writing.

Download a free copy of the Chorus Writing Prompts PDF here.