#SongwritingHack 1.03 – “Verses Are The New Chorus”

by Clay Mills
Dec 7, 2021

When you think of using repetition in songs, you usually think of it as a device that’s used in choruses, where you’re repeating a title over and over, or you’re repeating the same words to make a song memorable. But today I want to talk about a few ways that you can actually use repetition in verses to make your songs hookier and more memorable.

Example #1: “Raise ‘Em Up” by Keith Urban

The first song we're going to talk about is “Raise ‘Em Up”, a Keith Urban hit that was written by a couple of legendary songwriters; Jeffrey Steele, Tom Douglas, and a third writer, Jaren Johnston. It's all about the principal of verses are the new chorus and they used a technique that's actually a throwback technique; a lot of early jazz standards used this, where the beginning of each verse starts off with the title, and then you repeat the title at the end of the chorus as well. This is more of a traditional approach to repetition - using your title right off the bat, right at the top of the song. And you use it throughout the song - every verse, every chorus.

So here, it’s a constant repetition of the phrase “raise ‘em up”, but the lyrics are so interesting that you never really get tired of hearing it, because it’s used in a different way each time.

Example #2: “Dirt” – Florida Georgia Line

The second song we’re going to play you is kind of unique because they put the title in the verse, but they use it as a background part, mixed in low. If you’ve got your headphones on, you really hear it. This is just another way of reinforcing that repetition in the verse.

This song takes a long time to go through all of the verse and chorus to hear the title at the end of the chorus. So what they did is they snuck it in, in a background part – twice in the middle of the verse, and then at the end of the verse. That got the repetition of the title in there, because the chorus of this song doesn’t have a lot of repetition.

Example #3: “History In The Making” – Darius Rucker

I’ll pull out a song that I had a hit on with Darius Rucker, called History In The Making. In this song, we used repetition in the verse, but we didn’t repeat the title. We chose to do a different kind of repetition.

Once again, you have a song where the title is in the last line of the chorus. So we thought, let’s put a little repetition into the verse as well. We don’t repeat the title in the verse, but we repeat other words in the verse – “don’t move, baby don’t move”, “our time, let’s take our time”, etc. So there we have yet a third way of using repetition.

So this week, what I’d love for you to do when you’re writing is to find a way to put some repetition into your verses of your song, so that you’re not just relying on repetition of the chorus to make your song hooky, but you use a little verse repetition as well. Remember… Verses Are The New Chorus.


Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.


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