One perfect example for an awesome second verse is Queen's “We Are The Champions”. In this song’s second verse Freddie Mercury keeps on going and completing the story he had already started in the first verse. The great thing about this example is that each of first or second verses are already two complete stories on their own but they still perfectly complimenting each other can like pieces of a puzzle they create a bigger image. In my humble opinion this is one of the reasons made Freddie Mercury one of the best songwriters of all times.
Chase rabbits. Many times, writers can’t think of something new to say in the second verse, so they just say anything they can think of. It doesn’t say the same thing as the first verse, but it doesn’t really say anything at all. This can be a deal breaker for the listener. As I mentioned they had heard half of the story in the first verse and now they are ready to hear the new part of the very same story not something random, nor repeating the same thing they’ve already heard at the beginning.
Say the opposite of the hook. If your hook is “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and your second verse says, “I still love you”, then you’ve got confused listeners and a problem to fix. Second verses have to support the hook (title) of the song. Think of songwriting as a sort of conversation. What you think your friends would think if you are telling them something and just literally 30 seconds later you tell them something exactly opposite? The same goes to writing songs. When you are on one topic and one view, stand on what you said in your hook which is they key moment of your song and don’t change your direction. This is not only limited to second verse, but it applies on your first verse as well as your pre chorus and your bridge if you have any.
Move time in a way that is confusing, or they assume the listener will know that time has gone by. Movements in time have to be spelled out clearly. Generally, you should make sure that you are moving time in one direction. Jumping from present to future to past is confusing and hard to follow. A song is supposed to be a simple way of communication between the writer and the listener, narrated by the singer. If you are writing a commercial song, keep it simple and remind yourself that this is a commercial song you are writing, not script for “Inception” movie.
Drop the ball. One mistake I see very often is that a lot of writers say everything they can think of to say in the first verse and chorus. When it gets to writing the second verse, they drop the ball and their second verse just isn’t as interesting or well written as the rest of the song. Sometimes when this happens to me, I move my first verse down and make it the second verse. Then, I write a new first verse, based on the verse I already have, and I write something that prepares my listener for what you already have written down. Without trying to do something fancy, I’ve basically written a song kind of backwards and as long as it makes sense, why not! Doing that forces me to re-think how to get my listener “into” my song. Your second verse needs to be equally strong as your first verse and chorus, if not stronger.
If you set the bar high for your second verses and don’t let these “killers” ruin your lyrics, you will find yourself writing second verses that really add to song instead of just being “place holders”. The second verses are much more important than most writers think. Respect the importance of your second verses and appreciate their existence instead of being annoyed by “now what should I write?”. They are there to give you another chance to give more details and information about your story to your listener and make them want to hear your chorus once again because this second time they have more information about the overall image and they can connect to your chorus more than the first time they heard it. Second verses are our second chances to make the listener more interested in our song.
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