Hit Song Parts and Sections
In order to fully understand how pop songs are built we need to
look at all the essential elements that typical hits songs use for
The Introduction: In most pop songs the Intro is brief (under 15
seconds) and often contains the song hook. Typically the intro is
a variation of the verse or chorus, or a turnaround.
"I had this song called Helter Skelter,
which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, 'cuz I
like noise". - Paul McCartney
The Verse: The verse is where you tell the story in the song.
Each verse can be a micro-story and have it’s own theme united
by the chorus, or the verses can continue the story throughout the
song. Usually a good verse will need to be resolved or answered
by the chorus. It is this feeling of anticipation that drives hit
songs and makes you want to listen to what ‘s next. In the
A/A/B/A song structure the verses are the “A” sections
usually ending or starting with the hook or title, followed by the
bridge or “B” section.
The Lift: The lift is like a pre-chorus or verse “B”
section. Often to make a song more interesting, the second half
of the verse (“B” section) is written over slightly
different chords to lift the song into the chorus section. This
technique can help build the anticipation of the impending chorus
or even sound like part of the chorus, hence the term pre-chorus.
The lift can also be an intro hook revisited before the chorus.
"I was born with music inside me. Music
was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart.
Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on
the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water."
- Ray Charles
The Chorus: The chorus usually contains the title and central theme
of the song and is the most memorable part of the song. Most producers
will agree that a hit song has to have a chorus with a memorable
melody. This is the music hook that gets stuck in your head that
invades your thoughts and makes you really want to hear the song
"Back then people closed their eyes
and listened to music. Today there's a lot of images that go with
the music. A lot of music is crap and it's all commercial and the
images are all trying to sell the record". - Neil Young
The Bridge The bridge is also commonly known as the break, middle
eight or release, is the eight-bar B section of a 32-bar AABA song
form. Most bridge sections are 8 bars, but you will also find bridges
of various lengths in the verse/chorus/bridge and blues with a bridge
song forms. The bridge usually occurs only once, has a melody different
from other song sections, and contains two or four lines of lyric
that do not include the song title or hook. This is where you can
create some interest and tension by changing your melody line, modulating
to a different key, or adding an instrumental guitar or solo part
"I would start seeing, in just the sense
I was saying now, the kind of record it was going to be and what
the arrangement demands, and what my vocal part should be in the
record. This was all emerging as the song was emerging".
- Art Garfunkel
The Ending: There are many, many different ways to end a song.
The point is to leave the listener wanting to hear your song again
and again. Endings are especially important when accompanying singers
as you can design the "big finish". The chorus fade is
also a popular ending.
As you can see, there are six essential building blocks used for
creating hit songs.
learn the most
effective ways to put these elements together to build the most
professional songs of your life