When the melodic bridge is a sonic postchorus and the melodic chorus is a sonic bridge.
In this post I wrote about the most dominant defining trait of a bridge in modern pop, which I call the fall and rise—a sharp drop in sonic energy followed by a buildup that culminates in the final chorus.
In that same article, I also mentioned that it’s very common to recycle a previous section in the bridge. Most commonly it’s the prechorus that gets recycled because it provides an easy way to build up to the final chorus in a familiar way, but occasionally the verse or the chorus will be the ones that get recycled.
When it comes to recycling the chorus, it’s usually done in the context of a rise subsection, like this:
But in a handful of songs, the chorus material occupies the entire bridge.
Related: A Sonic Twist in the Plot: The Bridge in Modern Pop
This doesn't happen very often, and for good reason--in the most common versions of the verse-chorus song form, the bridge is sandwiched between the second and third chorus. This means that using only the chorus in the bridge can lead to three consecutive iterations of the exact same topline, like this:
In the songs that I've come across in which the chorus is recycled in the bridge the following things happen:
First, a postchorus follows the second chorus (but not the first). This provides the melodic separation and contrast between the second and third choruses.
Then, the melodically contrasting postchorus is followed by a sonically contrasting bridge that uses the chorus as its topline, but follows the fall and rise convention and builds up to a final, climactic "real" third chorus. It looks like this:
In essence, there are two dimensions working in parallel and diverging in their timeline: the traditional dimension (melody, lyrics, and sometimes harmony), and the sonic dimension (density and intensity of texture; amplitude of frequencies across the spectrum). This creates tension and adds interest to the song.
Here are some examples of songs that include this switcheroo:
Hey Violet - Guys My Age
Postchorus starts at 2:09; Bridge starts at 2:25
Asaf Peres is a music theory Ph.D. who researches and writes about pop music.
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