When it comes to the songwriting craft, there are really no rules. Although there are guidelines that you should follow, it is possible to break the ‘rules’ and still end up with a hit song.
Here’s an example of a broken ‘rule’ which resulted in a hit song. In songwriter circles, it is generally agreed that only one or two verses should come before the chorus. The song, ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers broke that ‘rule’ with as many as 3 verses coming before the chorus. Needless to say how big of a hit that song was.
Another example of a song which broke the so-called songwriting rules was the song ‘Chain of Love’ by Clay Walker. It followed the pattern of verse-verse-chorus-verse-verse-chorus-verse. As you can see, the song only has two choruses, but five verses! There are two verses before the first chorus, two verses after the first chorus and one verse after the second chorus. This is what I call breaking the rules.
Do the examples outlined above mean that aspiring songwriters should ignore widely accepted songwriting guidelines? I don’t think so. It’s probably much more difficult to write a song that follows the patterns presented earlier and end up with a hit.
With the two songs, ‘Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers and ‘Chain of Love’ by Clay Walker, the lyrics of the verses are crafted in such a way that they grab the listener’s attention for the entire length of the verses, before the chorus. Can you do it?
Many songwriters will advise you to get to the hook of the song very quickly. Personally, I’d rather play it safe and do just that.
While there are no rules in songwriting, if you follow certain established guidelines and study carefully what happens with popular music, you will make progress.