Verse/Lift/Chorus Song Form

The Verse/Lift/Chorus song form is similar to the Verse/Chorus song form with the addition of another section between the verse and the chorus, sometimes called the “lift” or “climb” or “pre-chorus.”  The lift is usually very memorable and singable like the chorus, but it doesn’t deliver the full payload like the chorus does.  The multiple lifts in a song may have the same lyrics or may have different lyrics with the same chord progression moving the listener from the verse to the chorus.

The lift is extremely common in the pop music of today.  Take, for example, Love Song (Bareilles, 2007):

V Head under water and you tell me
To breathe easy for awhile
The breathing gets harder, even I know that
V Made room for me, but it’s too soon to see
If I’m happy in your hands
I’m unusually hard to hold on to
L Blank stares at blank pages
No easy way to say this
You mean well
But you make this hard on me
C I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you asked for it
‘Cause you need one, you see

I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you tell me it’s
Make or breaking this
If you’re on your way

Song continues with V, V, C, B, C, C, C

Notice how the lift (L) takes the listener from the verse and builds up energy so that when the chorus arrives there is a lot of excitement.

One thing to notice is that in modern pop music, the chorus (i.e. the “hook” ) takes up a larger percentage of the song. There is an old saying: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” This is very much the aesthetic of what young people today are being given in popular culture.