The Best Place for Your Song Title

Posted in The Weekly on May 6, 2024 by

One of my BMI workshop students told me that a publisher suggested he change the location of his title from the beginning and end of his chorus to only at the end of the chorus, to provide more of a payoff. It got me wondering about the most popular places to include a title within a song—and the number of times the title was included.

I reached out to David Penn, founder of Hit Songs Deconstructed ( HSD does in-depth analyses of the top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100, examining the songwriting and production techniques used in these songs. Billboard’s Hot 100 chart calculates the week’s most popular songs across all genres ranked by single sales, radio airplay, digital downloads, and streaming activity (including data from YouTube and other video sites). Hits on this chart typically include pop, hip-hop, and country songs.

According to Penn, 71% of the 147 total top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart during 2022-2023 included the song’s title in the chorus. There were 17 instances of top-10 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart during this time that did not include the title in the song.

The location of the title within the song varied widely and was correlated to the song’s genre. Penn shared, “Finding the title in the chorus is more common in pop—which is chorus-centric—than it is in hip hop, which is verse-centric.”

In most instances, the title occurs in the first or last line of the chorus. But not every song includes a chorus. For example, “I Remember Everything” (written and recorded by Zach Bryan and Kasey Musgraves). The title is heard only at the end of the first verse. However, a variation of the title (i.e., “I remember” or “I’ll remember”) is at the end of every verse, as is most often the case in songs with Verse-Verse-Bridge-Verse (AABA) or Verse-Verse-Bridge-Verse-Bridge-Verse (AABABA) structures.

In Britney Spears’ “Dear Diary” (written by Jason Blume, Eugene Wilde, and Britney Spears) which has a Verse-Verse-Bridge-Verse-Bridge-Verse (AABABA) form, the title is at the beginning of each verse. This is the second most common location for the title in songs that do not include choruses.

According to Hit Songs Deconstructed’s analysis, in addition to occurring elsewhere in the song, the title appeared in the outro in 26% of the top 10 songs on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, and in the verse 25% of the time.

How Many Times the Title Appears

During that same time period 41% of the top 10 songs on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart included the title 1 – 5 times; 22% included the title 6 – 10 times; 12% of the songs included the title 11 – 16 times; 7% of these songs included the title 16 – 20 times; and 5% included the title 21 or more times. 12% of the songs did not include the title at all.

In Taylor Swift’s “Karma” (written by Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, Mark Spears, Jahaan Sweet, and Keanu Torres) the title appears six times in each chorus, and additional times in the outro. According to David Penn, this exceptionally high degree of repetition is by far more common in the post-chorus.

The overwhelming majority of country songs include choruses—and titles that appear in the chorus. Songs that have the title within choruses are also the most prevalent structure in songs on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart.

At the time this article was written, every one of the top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart included a chorus that contained the song’s title. However, where the title was placed within the chorus varied.

A rare exception is the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year, “Fast Car” (recorded by Luke Combs and written by Tracy Chapman) which employs a variation on the structures that are comprised solely of verses and bridges. “Fast Car” includes the title at the beginning of every verse.

Below are some examples of the places where the title is most often found in songs that include a chorus. These almost always use one of the following song forms: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus (ABAB); Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus (ABABCB); or Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus (ABABAB).

In “Halfway to Hell” (written by Jelly Roll, Jesse Frasure, Jesse Jo Dillon, and Matthew Jenkins; recorded by Jelly Roll) the title is in the first line of every chorus. Additionally, a variation of the title is also the last line of the chorus (“Halfway to heaven or hell”.)

Morgan Wallen’s recording of “Man Made a Bar” which features Eric Church (written by Brett Tyler, Larry Fleet, Rocky Block , and Jordan Dozzi) has the title at the end of every chorus. It is repeated at the end of the second and the final choruses.

In “Wildflowers and Wild Horses” (written by Lainey Wilson, Trannie Stevens, Paul Sikes; recorded by Lainey Wilson) the title is at the beginning of the intro and at end of every chorus. It is repeated two additional times at the end of the final chorus, sometimes referred to as the outro or the tag.

Employing a technique sometimes referred to as bookending, in “Take Her Home” (written by Zach Abend, Michael Hardy, and Hunter Phelps; recorded by Kenny Chesney) the title is at the beginning and the end of every chorus. It is also repeated at the end of the second chorus, and multiple times at the end of the song.

While the title placements described above are the most common ones, there are many variations, such as those that follow. In Ashley Cooke’s “Your Place” (written by Cooke, Jordan Minton, and Mark Trussell) the title occurs in the first, second, and last line of each chorus. This song uses a technique which adds a twist by having the title take on a new meaning when it appears at the end of the chorus.

In Scotty McCreery’s “Cab in a Solo” (written by McCreery, Benjamin Anderson, and Frank Rogers) the title is the third line of a four line chorus.

The title is at the beginning and middle of the choruses in the hit Christian song, “Trust in God” (written by Christopher Brown, Steven Furtick, Michael Lake, and Mitchell Wong; recorded by Elevation Worship, featuring Chris Brown). The title is also repeated at the end of the song.

In “Where It Ends” (written by Grant Averill, Joe London, and Bailey Zimmerman; recorded by Bailey Zimmerman) the title occurs in the beginning and end of the first verse, the last line of every chorus, and twice at end of the second chorus. 

There are no rules in songwriting, but clearly, the overwhelming majority of successful songs include the title. The rare exceptions tend to be songs that artists or bands write for themselves, such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (written by Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Kurt Cobain).

While writing this article, I recalled when an attendee at one of my online BMI Songwriting Workshops responded to my question, “Where should you place your title?” He raised his hand and smirked, “In the song!”

Clearly, he was correct.

Jason Blume is the author of 6 Steps to Songwriting Success, This Business of Songwriting, and Inside Songwriting (Billboard Books). His latest book, Happy Tails—Life Lessons from Rescued Cats and Kittens (SPS/Blue Mountain Arts) combines his love of photography and cats. Jason’s songs are on Grammy-nominated albums and have sold more than 50,000,000 copies. A guest lecturer at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney) and at the Berklee School of Music, he has been interviewed as a songwriting expert for CNN, NPR, the BBC, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. To receive a free video, “3 Things You MUST Do for Success” and weekly tips to enhance creativity click here. Join Songwriting With Jason Blume on Facebook for free events and song critiques. For information about his workshops, recorded lessons, webinars, additional articles, and more, visit

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