Elements of Great Songwriting: Know When to Start with the Chorus

white band

When the Average White Band moved from the MCA record label to Atlantic in the early 70’s, they brought with them the master tapes of their second album, which MCA had opted not to release.

Jerry Wexler was eager to sign the band to Atlantic, but thought the rejected album needed a tweak before he released it on his label. The band and producer Arif Mardin replaced a couple tunes with stronger ones. They also re-worked other tracks to bolster commercial appeal.

One of these was “Got the Love”, and its two versions make the perfect case for why a song which starts with a chorus can often draw a listener in more effectively.

Listen to the earlier version of the song:

Despite a relatively irresistible white-boys-on-funk intro, the song takes about 1:12 to get to its chorus hook.

The re-recorded version, released on their #1 AWB album in 1974, gets to that hook within 20 seconds, and by 1:12 you’re hearing it for a second time.

A good songwriter–or producer–will know when and when not to come out of the gate with a chorus instead of setting it up with a verse or two. Once you start listening for such songs, you’ll find that there are plenty of examples in all genres. Here are a few that come to mind:

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