In my last post, I talked about a Pre-Chorus and how to write one. Now I want to talk about writing a Post-Chorus.
What is a Post-Chorus?
Basically it’s what comes right after the chorus, before the second set of verses start. The example I used in my book is “Hit Me Baby, One More Time” by Britney Spears. The chorus is:
My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby, one more time
First, yes, I just typed that from memory. Second, don’t act like you didn’t sing it in your head. But here’s the question: When she repeats “Hit me baby, one more time,” do you consider that part of the chorus? Or is that a post-chorus?
Similarly, some people consider Rihanna’s “Umbrella” to have a post-chorus. They think the part where she sings “under my umbrella, ella, ella, ay, ay” etc is not part of the actual chorus.
So, who is right? The answer is: It doesn’t matter. It’s still part of the song, so what people choose to call it is unimportant. What DOES matter is what you call it in your own song. If you refer back to my Pre-Chorus post, I strongly recommended clearly labeling each part of the song for the studio musicians. If you have a post-chorus, please label that part too! A lot of songs don’t have them, and that’s totally fine, but if you do have one just label it. It will likely avoid a 10 minute conversation about where we are in the song and what that part is called. Whatever you want to call it is fine!
Post-choruses are usually pretty easy to write. They are generally just a repeating of the last line of the chorus, or of a focal point you want to highlight. You don’t want them to be too wordy, or introduce a whole new idea or set of words. This should happen in the verse. It’s just a little connector from your chorus to your next piece (verse, bridge, or outro) so it should be incredibly simple.
How do you know if you need one? Many songs don’t need them, and if you already have 2-4 verses, a pre-chorus and a bridge, you probably don’t want to add a post-chorus as well. You can make a song 12 minutes long, but the more information and words you have in it, the harder it will be for people to really process it.
Your producer might be the best person to ask if your specific song needs a post-chorus (or feel free to send it to us at BrainStamp and we’d be happy to provide feedback!) but another way to tell is to listen to your chorus. Does it hit all the points you wanted to say? Is there a more important phrase buried in the chorus that should be repeated? Does your tagline match your title? If your title is part of the chorus but it’s not the focal point, that would be a great time to use a post-chorus. Just repeat the title as you go into the verse.
The most important thing though, is please make sure you label it on your lyric sheet! I’m not kidding when I say it will save time and money and avoid confusion. A lot of songwriters are afraid to do this because they don’t want to label something “wrong,” but it really doesn’t matter.
Just imagine you’re a doctor going into surgery, and you draw up the human body and every part is labeled wrong. You’ve invented fake names for each body part, and the nurses stare at you like you’re insane. You walk in with confidence and tell them that for this surgery, you will be using these names. So when you ask the nurse to hand you the fuzterlubber to cut the quilkenfur, they will know what you mean because they have the drawing. The surgery will be fine as long as everyone knows clearly what is labeled.
*Note: I’m not a surgeon and definitely do not recommend doing this. Your surgery will probably not be fine if I did this because I was always terrible at the Operation game and I would cry and give up. Do not attempt or take as medical advice. Do, however, take my songwriting advice because it comes from years of studio experience.