A great chorus is like take-off: the bit in the song that makes you a) sing, b) cry, or c) sprint to the dancefloor. Or all three. Here are 50 exhilarating examples.

Words: Priya Elan, Dan Martin, Ailbhe Malone, Rebecca Schiller. Spotify playlist

30Since U Been Gone

If there was ever a problem with a Strokes/Yeah Yeah Yeahs song, it’s that their choruses didn’t soar with the same ridiculous ascendant chord progression as an N*Sync one, right? Well not to fear, Kelly Clarkson’s defiant break up soft rock anthem offered all of that and more. A rocket powered three-chorder, it was ridiculously jubilant.

29Shake It Out

It’s always darkest before the dawn” Florence Welch sang on her big comeback tune. The fact that it was about a hangover seemed unimportant. 'Shake It Out' was her ‘Bleeding Love’ style pop moment. The drums clattered like an earthquake as Florence’s vocals burst in like bats into a belfry, over a hook that was instantly re-playable.

28Pride (In The Name Of Love)

People slag off Bono for his bluster and swagger, without realizing that it is those very qualities that allow him to carry off a chorus as skyscraping as this one. A figure as inspirational as Martin Luther King can only be done justice with a singalong on a colossal scale. And ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’ is perhaps the biggest to ever travel the world’s stadiums and ice hockey arenas.

27Summer Of 69

Adams’ song was a baby Springsteen track, filled with soaring E Street-like chords and romantic lyrics. His cast of characters (Jimmy, Jody, Vallance, Gordy) were sealed in the amber of the memories of high school, while the lyrics (“Those were the best days of my life,”) and the descending chords of the chorus perfectly tapped into the nostalgia of the baby boomer generation.


When the chorus bursts forth, it’s like the scene in Alien when the monster bursts out of the unsuspecting victim's stomach. Power chords ignite - and yet Grohl’s lyrics have the twinge of sadness as he sings: “And I wonder/When I sing along with you/If everything could ever feel this real forever.” A masterful juxtaposition, on possibly their greatest single.


The chorus comes in early, and hooks you instantly. Eddie Vedder plays a blinder as he roars, "Hah-aye-um-aye-um-ayum steel alahv". Not quite the life-affirming tale that most believe, the track’s actually about a young man who finds out his father isn’t who he thinks it is. Deep.

24Never Forget

A brilliant curtain closer to Take That’s career (phase one). Even if Howard Donald sounded a little bit wet on the verses, the chorus was bulletproof. Over a new jack swing beat, the lyrics spoke of keeping grounded, and the passing of the pop torch to other boyband wannabes (“Someday soon/ This will someone else’s dream”). Even the most hardened cynic couldn’t fail to be touched by those sentiments.

23Smells Like Teen Spirit

When this song came out, know one really knew what the devil Kurt was singing, due to a lack of printed lyrics. Once people got hold of them, they still didn’t really know what it was about. Kurt screaming about an albino, a mosquito and his libido... it's gibberish. And yet, such is the hurtling power of that snare roll into the chorus, it sounds like the voice of god.


M & B’s tribute to Bacharach and David is a thrusting, head-wiggling three-minute mirror ball of defiance. The verses spit at an errant ex, while the chorus proclaimed, rather too jubilantly that “YES!” he did feel better, post-breakup, as Bernard Butler poured on Phil Spector-ish strings and springing guitars. Being dumped never sounded so much fun.


After a bit of pre-chorus piano tinkling which sounds like a NASA space signal come to life, the chorus kicks in like a rocket ship breaking the sound barrier. Bowie’s ‘Starman’ was self-referential of course, and the chorus of the track stands as a brilliant statement of his other-worldly intent.

Share This

Connect With Us
This Week's Magazine