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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Song Writing Technique for Top 40 Songs: Getting Into the Chorus Quickly/Having a Chorus

  It is common for art critics to flatly assert a variation of the refrain that the general audience for art commerce has "no" taste.  This argument is derived from the long discredited distinction between "high" vs. "low" art, and is as antiquated as the later distinction (between high/low art.)  In fact, the large popular Audience for art does have a specific taste in terms of song construction.  There are techniques that cut across genre, artist and international markets to unite the Artists who write songs that appear on Top 40 playlists.

  The single most wide ranging song writing technique that Top 40 compositions share in common is that there is a quick opening verse- often it is only a refrain or couplet- followed by the full weight of the chorus.

  Story of My Life by One Direction is #6.  The chorus for Story of My Life comes in at just over a minute, ends at 1:50- through a four minute song- meaning that the chorus occupies half of the first half of the composition.

  In this Luke Bryan country/hip hop/rocker, the full chorus drops a little over 40 seconds into the 3:30 run time.  That's My Kind of Night is up to number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  Timber actually OPENS with the chorus, a technique increasingly prominent in the genres of EDM and hip hop.  It is #2 right now on the Billboard Hot 100.

  So like every time I watch a shitty rock band play a club I ask myself the question, "Why the fuck does it take you so long to get into your chorus OR Why don't you have choruses/Why do your choruses suck.  Show you can adhere to established artistic conventions before you go off trying to reinvent the wheel. After all, if you want to perform your compositions live there must be some desire to actually PLEASE your Audience, so why not become aware of what actually pleases an Audience in practice, even if it is an Audience you despise.

  Burn by Ellie Goulding hit #16 on the Billboard 100- chorus comes a minute in.


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