My NEW album, “The Obama Milli Remix Guy Strikes Back!”, comes out on June 8.
One of the things listeners will notice is that the majority of the songs contain only 2 verses. In fact, by my own count, of the (tentatively) 15 songs on the album, 6 songs contain two verses total, and 2 others contain 3 verses where I contribute 2 verses.
In the past, the majority of my songs would have 3 verses in it. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few things about having 3 verses in a song:
1. If you’re a newcomer into the game, most people don’t want to hear 3 verses from you. In fact, most people are already struggling to hear through two verses. This has nothing to do with the quality of the song being played (most of the time); however, if you’re not established and people are just getting into you, it’s actually better to give them LESS of you to hear until they’ve built up a liking to your music.
2. Most things that need to be said in a song can actually be said in two verses. Usually, the 3rd verse of a song isn’t the strongest, as the writer has usually started running out of ideas.
3. DJs – and this is very, VERY important – don’t usually play a song past the second verse. I learned this at the height of “Obama Milli Remix” popularity: no matter how much the song was requested and/or the video was played on YouTube, the data suggests that, by the beginning of the third verse, people were usually ready to hear something else. Again, that doesn’t mean the song was bad; however, much of the momentum of a song heightens by the end of the second verse.
4. People’s attention span is very short in general. A song with two verses is much shorter than a song with three. If you factor in 2 to 3 chorus parts for a song, a song with two verses is already hitting the 3-minute mark, i.e. the point where people start to tune out. A third verse can stretch the song to almost 4-and-a-half minutes, by which time most listeners have already moved on to another song.
Nowadays, I don’t make my songs longer than two verses unless I have a guest appearance on the track (the switch-up in vocalist makes a person’s brain think the song has changed, thus making them stick around longer) or unless I am unable to get all the ideas I had into two verses (like “The Betty White Song,” which was originally going to be two verses). Sometimes I’ll stretch the length of the second verse out by 4 to 8 bars if I have some additional ideas to throw in that require a song extention, but not to the point of needing a full 3rd verse.
All in all, I like the two-verse format better. It allows me to fit more songs onto an album and keep the quality of lyrics much fresher. You’ll be able to hear what I’m talkin’ about when the album drops on June 8th!