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Can Your Song Work With Three Sections Before The Chorus?

Songs with a Pre-Chorus almost always follow the same basic structure: Verse/Pre-Chorus/Chorus. Sometimes the Verse will vary somewhat as it progresses, but usually there are just the three discrete and easily identifiable sections (for example, in Billie Jean, I Try, Refugee, many many more).

However, in some songs the Verse has two very different sections – call them Verse A and Verse B – that lead in to a Pre-Chorus and Chorus. This can be a little tricky to pull off. You have to keep things flowing towards the culmination of the Chorus through three sections – not a easy as with just two.

One example is Freedom by the incredibly talented pop savant, the late George Michael. This is an unusual song, not least because it’s so long (the first Chorus comes fully two minutes in). And even though the chords stay similar all the way through, each of the four sections (Verse A, Verse B, Pre-Chorus, Chorus) is quite different, creating a pleasant surprise (new section!) about every 30 seconds. Also, not incidentally, every section is really hooky – it is George Michael.

(Videos for both songs discussed here are below. Listen without prejudice.)

Another example is the recent hit Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake, a collaboration with Max Martin and Shellback. This song is more conventional, but the Verse definitely has two different sections.

The commonality to me is that in both songs everything is very hooky – excepting, arguably, the Pre-Chorus of ‘Can’t Stop’, which functions more like the typical change of pace build-up you expect in a Pre-Chorus (as I point out here)… and unlike George Michael’s song, where every section is another hook, almost another Chorus.

In a pop song, if there are more sections than usual, it’s especially important to keep the listener engaged and entertained, simply because, with one more section, there are more chances to lose their interest.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts, additions, disagreements in the Comments section below:

geo michael freedom

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2 responses to “Can Your Song Work With Three Sections Before The Chorus?”

  • Great observations, Tony. Would love to hear you dissect Blake Shelton’s hit ‘I Lived It.’ It seems like it has a chorus and then after-chorus. I’d love to hear your take on what you’d consider the chorus, pre-chorus, after-chorus etc.
    Thx again!

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