Many people are familiar with a chorus, a verse, a bridge, and even a pre-chorus, but not many people talk about the post-chorus. Some people use post-choruses without realizing it, just considering it a second part of their chorus. But there's power in the slight distinction between the two parts.
A Post-Chorus is a second chorus that is catchy and blends in with the first chorus very well, but it also introduces a new melodic element that the main chorus does not have.
Think of your hook/chorus as the peak of a party. The party originally started as the intro, where the first few people showed up and the fun is slowly built. The verse section represents when most of the people have arrived and the festivities can officially begin.
The chorus is the part of the party where everything is going great, the energy is at its highest, and people don't want the feeling to end. The post-chorus serves as a way to keep the height of the party going, introducing new fun things while still capturing everyone's attention as a stand-out moment in the party.
You can often find a post-chorus in modern genres like Pop, R&B, and EDM. They work well for songs that are straightforward lyrically with memorable melodies.
People are much more familiar with the pre-chorus. A pre-chorus is often used in pop genres and occurs after the first and second verses. While this section is usually very catchy as well, it always feels as if it's leading you into the best moment, and you're not there yet. Pre-choruses often have chord progressions that give you the feeling of anticipation, ending on the fifth chord that gets resolved to a root chord in the chorus.
The post-chorus doesn't give you that same anticipation. Its job is to keep your energy up once the momentum has fully hit. Both can be repeated and use the same lyrics each time they are sung, but the post-chorus often repeats melodic and lyric ideas from the chorus itself. Take Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop This Feeling" for example. He adds new ideas to the post-hook, but still repeats elements from the main hook.
If you're writing your own post-chorus, the main thing you want to do is make sure it fits well with your hook. As you're writing the hook, you may come across several ideas and have to decide on your top one, leaving the lesser ideas unused. One of those unused ideas can actually be turned into a post-hook. As long as the idea is pretty simple and catchy, it can work!
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You also want to keep your post hook the same length or shorter than the hook. For example, your hook could be 8 bars and you can then create a post-hook that lasts 8 bars as well. You could also want a short, catchy 4-bar post-hook that can serve as a mini bridge into the second verse. Many post-choruses have little to no words at all, with only "oohs" and "ahhs" combined with great melodies and possibly some harmonies too.
Are you wondering if you should add a post-chorus to your song? It's not a must! Don't try to stuff one in just for the sake of it. Make sure it works for your style, your genre, and the message of your song. Post-hooks may not work well for a song that has an emphasis on lyrical content since they usually don't present new lyrical ideas.
Take Rihanna's song "Umbrella". It's catchy, it's short, and it takes some melodic elements and all the lyrical elements from the hook without adding any new words.
In some cases, a post-chorus and a bridge can be very similar. Some bridges aim to make their bridge very similar to the chorus without switching the chord progression or the feel of the song, which can be almost exactly what a post-chorus can do. Some bridges also follow very simplistic words, sometimes not even words but just short sounds and pieces of words. But most bridges have much more contrast with the chorus than a post-chorus would have.
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