Many years ago on “Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out”, Vic explained to Bob how to achieve a finale for their show that would have maximum impact. “A great big brassy tart of an ending” is how he described it, and as a metaphor this is a real winner.
I’ve been listening to a lot of hit songs lately and reading through the lyrics at the same time to get an idea of the kinds of thing that make these songs hits. It’s often been said that you shouldn’t let the verses sit idly by and wait for the chorus to come around and rescue the song, but that is what seems to be happening in a lot of these songs.
I’ve seen people doing karaoke and they seem to mutter the verses and then really go for it on the chorus, rescuing their performance in the process. I’d assumed that the reason they muttered the verses was that they didn’t really know the song very well and the chorus was the only bit they were comfortable with, but maybe that’s not it. Maybe the verses were a bit lame and that’s the best that could be done with them.
In and out of the shade
Careful listening to the hit version of the songs seems to support this. These songs often dissolve into background noise during the verses and then grab your attention again with the chorus. I think that’s why it’s difficult to determing the structure of some of these songs without concentrating on it – you go to sleep on the verses and wake up on the chorus. Repeating the chorus at the end makes you think you were awake all along, when maybe your weren’t.
Carry that weight
Where did this get us? To be a hit your song (usually) needs a great big brassy tart of a chorus. If the rest of the song is great that that’s a bonus, but for a lot of hit songs, despite what we’re told, a (great) big chorus is carrying the passengers most of the way.