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Chorus-Only Song

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"Katie Casey was baseball-mad,
Had the fever and had it bad,
Just to root for the hometown crew,
Every sou
Casey blew.
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said, 'No,
I'll tell you what you can do:'"
The first verse of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

The song is known only by its chorus. Few know of the existence of verses. If a verse is known, it's the related trope of the Second Verse Curse. If the Chorus is really it for lyrics, it becomes a Single Stanza Song. If it extends to the title, goes into Refrain from Assuming. If the title is all people get in the chorus, can get into Something Something Leonard Bernstein.

This is true of many songs from Tin Pan Alley days, which have verses which have been long forgotten by everybody but music geeks. It doesn't help that publishers often remove the verses of these songs to save pages. Also an Enforced Trope in most TV advertisements that use late twentieth-century pop songs, apparently because the advertisers want to pay as few royalties as possible.

See also Title-Only Chorus, compare with Something Something Leonard Bernstein.


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  • The Bloodhound Gang:
    • "The Bad Touch" by The Bloodhound Gang: "You and me, baby ain't nothin' but mammals/So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel."
    • This tends to be true of any other song that is mostly rap lyrics but has a more-or-less melodic chorus, in a sort of inversion of A Wild Rapper Appears!. (Best known is probably DMX's "Party Up": "Y'all gonna make me lose my mind! Up in HERE! Up in HERE!")
  • Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" — double the fun in that without the verses the meaning of the song changes completely. Occasionally leads to research failure when people neglect to listen to the song before using it.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! David Bowie.
  • "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba. Best known for "I get knocked down, but I get up again". That song. It's a shame, because the verses would make the most awesome drinking game ever. I drink a whiskey drink, I drink a vodka drink...
  • An odd example of this is "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It consists of a chorus, a bridge, the same bridge repeated, then the chorus repeated again.
  • Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water". Some only stay for the guitar riff (which is outlawed now in most music shops), some stay a little longer for the pretty memorable chorus, but rarely does anyone know the verses. As one friend remarked: "There are verses?" Furthermore, just ask the nearest guitar player in your vicinity to play "Smoke on the Water". Safe to say at least 95% of people will know the "main" riff, less than 4% will have bothered to learn the verses and chorus, and maybe 1% will know the solo.
    • Most people know what the riff sounds like, but as Blackmore has pointed out, very few of the people who play it do so correctly. This comes from people usually using generic barre chords rather than the more specific fingerings Blackmore used.
    • Child In Time does for keyboards what Smoke on the Water did for guitar. Most people who know the song only know the keyboard introduction, and a wordless chorus composed of tuneful screaming.
  • The closing refrain of "Ooh La La" by Faces ("I wish I knew then what I know now / When I was younger") is a Standard Snippet, but not many people could quote or even hum anything from the three minutes leading up to it.
  • "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Der Kommissar" by Neue Deutsche Welle artist Falco.
  • "Where Did the Party Go?" by Fall Out Boy. Admit it, do you actually know any of the lyrics besides "Whoa, where did the party go?"
  • Hey, you know Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll (Part 2)"? You know, The Hey Song? Yeah, there's also a Part 1. Our European tropers are already going "WELL, NO SHIT" but they need to remember, only Part 2 got popular over in America!
  • Gary Wright: ♪Oo-hoo DREEEEEEAM WEAVER! I believe you can get me through the NI-IIIIIGHT!♪
  • "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty is a weird example because the "chorus" everyone remembers doesn't even have lyrics.
  • "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses: it has verses, sung more or less clearly (though really fast), but everybody remembers only the lyrics of the chorus: "Take me down to the paradise city, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. TAKE ME HOME!".
  • "Give Peace a Chance" by John Lennon. Since the chorus is only one couplet, repeated as necessary, that takes this trope near the limit. But it's understandable: the chorus is simple and timeless; the verses are tonguetwisters, and they are less timeless.
    • The "forgotten verses" effect is perhaps heightened by the fact that current live concert performances of the song by Paul McCartney as a tribute to his former bandmate include only the familiar refrain, usually as part of a medley with another song. (For example, since at least 2009, The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" has been the song that segues into the refrain of "Give Peace a Chance".)
    • "Hey Jude" is much the same...
  • Nobody cares about the verses to KISS's "Rock and Roll All Nite". Nobody.
    • See, that's the kind of talk makes people get wild. But that's okay - "you drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy..."
    • This is a particularly odd case in that it's not unusual for casual listeners to know both (some of) the verse and the chorus, but think they're different songs.
  • "Crawling" by Linkin Park is infamous for its angsty chorus and little else; in fact most only ever know the first line,note  the second is brought up occasionally,note  and almost never the 3rd or 4th.note 
  • Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" is infamous for supposedly not specifying just what the singer wouldn't do. In fact, it mentions four such things, one in each... verse. (The confusion can be blamed on a combination of two things: this trope and the use of the word "but" instead of "and", since each of the mentioned actions is not a "good" thing one would do "for love.")
  • The better known version of The Nightcrawlers' "Push the Feeling On", which sounds nothing like the original, only has chopped-and-screwed Looped Lyrics. Few people know of the existence of the original lyrics.
  • "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails, to the point where most people refer to it as the fuck-you-like-an-animal song, which completely misses the point.
  • It's a bit of an in-joke in the Goth fandom that nobody remembers the lyrics of The Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion" other than the "Hey now, hey now now now, sing this corrosion to me" chorus.
  • For many, "We Will Rock You".
    • And its near companion "We Are The Champions".
      • As well as "Another One Bites The Dust."
  • "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens (and later covered by Los Lobos for the soundtrack of Valens' biopic starring Lou Diamond Phillips).
  • For some, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" are just those five words.
  • "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. (Can you remember anything other than "It's the thing to do"?)
  • Most people know only the title part of "(Don't You) Forget About Me", since that verse gets repeated multiple times at the start before the other lyrics begin.
  • "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam. It does have two verses, which may not have been remembered, partially because the first verse sounds too much like the chorus to Jerry Butler's "He Will Break Your Heart", but moreso because of its chorus immortalized as a sports anthem.
  • For many people, only the beginning of the song "Eye of the Tiger" is known, the lyrics are almost always forgotten. After its feature on Rocky III, several media used the song through the years as a stereotypical boxing theme tune often used for comedic effect, and the rest of the song is almost never played.
  • The Troggs: "Wild Thing/You make my heart sing"...

    Alternate/Progressive/Punk Rock 
  • "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies gets this somewhat. Each chorus is slightly varied, but the verses are not nearly as well known, not helped by being somewhat disconnected from the chorus, and generally sung very fast.
  • "The Great Escape" by Boys Like Girls, to most.
  • "Song 2" by Blur. This example might be this trope squared. How many people know words to the chorus other than "WOO HOO"?
  • "Rock The Casbah" by The Clash. How many people (especially outside Britain) even understand the words, let alone know the verses well enough to sing them? And yet, every time the chorus comes back we're all reciting: "Something something something...Rock the Casbah! Rock the Casbah!"
  • "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence, without a doubt.
  • Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta" is often only known by its chorus, or really just the "I'm not sick but I'm not well" bit. And maybe the "Paranoia, Paranoia" part.
  • "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance. A lot of people don't know the verses, and they might not even know the chorus (WE'LL CARRY ON), but they will always recognize the G-note and the "When I was... a young boy..."
  • "This Is Not a Love Song" by Public Image Ltd. (PIL, not Public Image).
  • R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It" narrowly avoids because people get one or other line of the verses (mostly "LEONARD BERNSTEIN!").

  • "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys.
  • Cyndi Lauper's "All Through The Night"
    We have no past
    we won't reach back.
    Keep with me forward
  • The song "I Don't Know" by Erika is most remembered by its title present in the lyrics since it's repeated more than ten times in the chorus.
  • "Fancy" is an Iggy Azalea song featuring Charli XCX, but the part people remember best is the poppy chorus by Charli XCX. Although the "I-G-G-Y" part is pretty well known as well.
  • Thanks to the memes, most people can't get other verses of the song "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap rather than the part "hmm what you saaaay...".
  • "Firework" by Katy Perry, to some.
  • "There She Goes" by The La's (later covered by Sixpence None the Richer) is this, since it doesn't have any verses.
  • "Macarena" by Los Del Río, with many Americans only knowing the "HEEEEEEEEEEEY Macarena!" bit. Doesn't help that the entire rest of the chorus is in Spanish — as is the entirety of the original song; the one you're familiar with is the "Bayside Boys Mix", which added English verses.
  • "99 Luftballons" by Nena, outside of "something, something, Captain Kirk" most Yanks only know "99 luftballons, blahblahblahblahblahblahblah, 99 luftballons".
  • "Gangnam Style" by PSY. The only words people know are "Oppan Gangnam Style" and "HEEEEY!!! Sexy LADY!" because everything else is in Korean. Also applies to "Gentleman" and "Daddy" to a lesser extent.
  • Toni Basil: "OH MICKEY, YOU'RE SO FINE, YOU'RE SO FINE YOU BLOW MY MIND, HEY MICKEY! HEY MICKEY!" If you're lucky, some might remember bits of the chorus or the "I'll take it like a man" line, but other than that, most people will only know the famously catchy refrain (or derivatives of it).
  • "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston.
  • What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more.

  • Assuming they've never heard the Cluster F-Bomb bridge to Disturbed's "Down with the Sickness", most people will probably know "Get up! C'mon, get down with the sickness! Get up! C'mon, get down with the sickness! Get up! C'mon, get down with the sickness!". They may even forgo the rest for the title alone. Well, they know that part and "a-wah-ah-ah-ah."
  • "Soft" by Motionless in White. If you've heard any part of this song, it'll be the "YOU'RE MINE, MOTHERFUCKER!"
  • While the verses of "Killing in The Name" by Rage Against the Machine aren't quite as overlooked thanks to the ample repetition involved, almost everyone begins joining in once the bridge to "FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!" begins.
  • "Du Hast" by Rammstein. Though it's actually the repeated lines of the verse most people in the US Know.
  • "Dragula" by Rob Zombie. The verses are hard to remember (partially because they're mostly Word Salad), but then the chorus comes and everyone's digging through the ditches and burning through the witches.

  • Basshunter does this many times with his own songs, with examples ranging from the chorus-only "Vi Sitter I Ventrilo Och Spelar DotA" to not realizing "Jingle Bells" has more than one verse.
  • Is there someone who listen to the song "Big Enough" by Kirin J. Callinan without skipping to the part of the screaming cowboy?note 
  • O-Zone's "Dragostea din tei" (a.k.a. "Numa Numa") is this for some people.
  • Cascada's world-famous cover of Maggie Reilly's "Everytime We Touch" only retains the chorus of the original song, and has entirely new verses that are mostly forgettable. Several artists recorded complete covers of the song prior to Cascada's version, but none came close to its level of popularity.

  • Rising rapper B.O.B's first album had a lot of songs like this. Higher is a perfect example, and plays out like this: Verse 1->Chorus->long instrumental->Chorus again. His songs had short verses with long choruses. A song that worked with it was Ghost in the Machine, however, because it's an absolutely epic tearjerker, which is hard to find in Hi-Hop nowadays.
  • "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee has this taken to an extreme - people only know the chorus, and they do so as "something something Gasolina" repeated 8 times.
  • The chorus of "Same Love" by Macklemore is this compared to the rest of the song (which is mainly spoken). It's actually from a separate song called "She Keeps Me Warm" by Mary Lambert.
  • Spank Rock's "What It Look Like" is remembered only for its chorus:
    Tell me what it look like
    Tell me what it is
    Tell me what it look like
    Tell me what it is
    Tell me what it look like
    Tell me what it is
    Tell me what it look like
    Tell me what it is
    Tell me with it

  • The chorus of "I Love the Nightlife" by Alicia Bridges is one of the most famous bits of the entire Disco genre ("I love the nightlife, I gotta boogie on the disco 'round"), so you're forgiven for thinking the song is just a celebration of Disco. In fact, the verses are a prime example of Lyrical Dissonance. The whole song basically boils down to "Our relationship sucks, I know you're flagrantly cheating on me, but I'd rather go dancing and not talk about it."
  • The infamous "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by Baha Men. The verses sound quite different from that chorus, to say the least.
  • The Four Seasons' "Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me)" subverts this. The song contains six verses and no chorus with each verse topped off with the song's title.
  • KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)".
  • "I Got You" by James Brown is commonly known by the opening lyrics "I Feel Good", which is the only part many people know.
  • Prince's "Batdance" has got to qualify. While it is admittedly far more of a dance number than a "sing-along" song, most people are unlikely to remember more than about 10 percent of the lyrics at best (assuming they can remember it at all). It doesn't help that the lyrics come faster and faster as the song rolls on, until by the finale they are all being uttered simultaneously. In fact, the one line (besides the chorus) that everyone seems to remember is the very first one ("Oh, I got a live one here!") - and that's only because radio deejays loved to play it as an out-of-context gag soundbite for years afterward.
  • The Temptations: "War! Huh! Good god! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" Everyone knows that, barely anyone knows the verses.

  • "Independence Day" by Martina McBride sounds like a patriotic song during its chorus ("Let freedom ring / Let the white dove sing / Let the whole world know that today is the day of reckoning..."). Much like the "Born in the USA" example, the chorus is often played on July 4th as a patriotic gesture. The verses, meanwhile, give the chorus context: the "independence" is independence from an abusive husband, in the form of a murder-suicide by arson on July 4th, while their daughter (the narrator) is at a fair.

  • You're unlikely to hear the (unmelodic) verse of "As Time Goes By" because it wasn't used in Casablanca.
    • The melody is all right; it's the lyric that's the problem. Listen here. Needs no introduction, indeed.
  • How many people watching the Indianapolis 500 each year know that "Back Home Again in Indiana" has verses to go with the single chorus that was sung for the longest time by Jim Nabors?
  • "When The Saints Go Marching In"

  • For some reason, most hymnals print only the chorus of Andraé Crouch's "My Tribute" (which begins "To God be the glory, To God be the glory / To God be the glory for the things He has done…") and omit the verse (which begins "How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me?"). Some go even further and lop off the end of the song ("Just let me live my life / Let it be pleasing, Lord, to thee…") followed by the last half of the chorus a second time.
    • Other hymnals subvert this, since some hymns are written with verses sung by a song leader and/or choir, and the congregation joining in on the refrain. As a result, the hymnals in the pews have only the refrain printed, while the song leader/choir versions contain the entire song.
  • "Autumn Leaves", in its original French version as "Les feuilles mortes", had a verse, but only the chorus was translated into English; sheet music editions that included the verse left it in French.
  • "Daisy Bell", the song that HAL sings in 2001: A Space Odyssey, has verses. Nobody remembers it under that title, either (HAL calls it "Daisy," but most people remember it as "A Bicycle Built For Two"), since only the verses mention a bell.
    • As do "I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside" and "Where Did You Get That Hat?"
  • Dominiquenote  by Soeur Sourire (AKA: The Singing Nun) tends to mainly be remembered for its chorus.
  • God Bless America. (The verse begins "While the storm clouds gather / Far across the sea," which reflects on the song having been first published in 1938.) Let Kate Smith show you how it goes.
  • "Hello, My Baby!"
    • Oddly averted by Ivor Biggun, normally known for his terribly bawdy songs.
  • "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am"; largely the fault of Herman's Hermits, who only sung the chorus in their (very popular) version. "Second verse, same as the first!" Apparently they performed only the chorus because that was the only part they knew. So it could have been a Chorus Only Song before they recorded it.
  • "It's a Long Way To Tipperary."
    "Up to mighty London came an Irishman one day —
    As the streets are paved with gold, sure, everyone was gay!"
  • As with many children's songs,note  Puff the Magic Dragon (originally recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary) is often sung this way.
  • That mainstay of the Last Night of the Proms, "Rule Britannia" has verses that no one knows, but they do know the chorus.
  • The Christmas Song "Silver Bells" is sometimes sung this way.
    • Many other Christmas Songs are examples as well.
  • The Bahamian folk standard "Sloop John B", AKA "The Wreck of the John B." AKA "I Want To Go Home", most famously recorded by The Beach Boys, is mostly only remembered by its refrain: "Hoist up the John B.'s sails, see how the main sail sets, call for the captain ashore, let me go home..."
  • An inversion of sorts: the Standard Snippet version of "The Streets of Cairo" uses the tune of the verse, not the chorus.
  • "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." The verses, as it happens, are actually quite interesting, centering as they do on a Tomboy who loves baseball (Interestingly, the song was written by a man who hated the sport and never went to a professional ball game in his entire life).
  • "Ta-rar-a Boom-de-ay!" (Although a lot of people know the melody of the verses as "Lizzie Borden took an axe...")
  • Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land", which could be why everyone believes it to be such a patriotic song. It's a protest song - it's the essence of patriotism! To make things worse, when the song's verses are included, they are often limited to the first three—while the protest elements are present, they become more clear in the two later verses. (The very last one ending in "Is this land made for you and me?")
  • This page on details the process in which verses of Tin Pan Alley songs became obscure.
    • Many songs from Tin Pan Alley days have verses which have been long forgotten by everybody but music geeks—so much so that guessing the song from its first verse became a parlor game.
      • "Give My Regards To Broadway" is a good example of this.
      • As are most songs written by the Gershwins.
  • "Yankee Doodle", of all things, has quite a few verses (specific regions and regiments came up with their own additional verses during The American Revolution), but nobody today remembers any more than the chorus.
  • Not many people know that "You Are My Sunshine" has verses, since they're nearly never sung.
  • Several national anthems exemplify this:
    • Does even Charles III know the other verses to "God Save The King"?
    • "Land Of Hope And Glory", as mentioned elsewhere.
    • Das Deutschlandlied has verses which are known but no longer part of the national anthem due to their historical implications.
      • And still others which were never part of the national anthem because they were considered inappropriate for something so solemn. "Das Deutschlandlied" was originally a drinking song for supporters of German unification, and was adopted as the national anthem after the nation of Germany came into existence in 1871.
    • Only half a verse of the old South African national anthem survived the end of The Apartheid Era. This was incorporated into the new portmanteau national anthem and just to make the point, had some new English-language lyrics added about unity and freedom. note  The rest, about the Boers trekking into and civilizing Afrika, was quietly retired.
    • "O Canada" has three verses, only one of which is ever performed.
    • Similarly, "The Star Spangled Banner" has four verses, but everyone just knows the first. Interestingly, the first verse ends on a question, asking whether the star-spangled banner still flies "o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave." By ending on the first verse, we never find out if it still does. In Isaac Asimov’s short story “No Refuge Could Save”, a German spy is revealed by his knowledge of the third verse. Due to his training to seem like an American, he knew more of the national anthem than an actual American would.
    • The Dutch national anthem, the 'Wilhelmus' has fifteen stanzas, one for every letter in the name of 'Willem van Nassov', who was an important person in Dutch history (Nassov being an contemporary orthographic variant of 'Nassou', the modern spelling of his name.) Most Dutch people only know the first stanza. Some religious people know the sixth stanza as well, as it gets sung along with the first one on national holidays and days of commemoration in some churches.
    • Said sixth verse was also sung in Pokémon × Nimja: Play the Game in the episode "Dedicated To...". "Mijn schild ende betrouwen zjit gij O God mijn heer..." note 
  • Many many folksongs and shanties and their ilk suffer from either this or the Second Verse Curse. "Blackfly", "Canning Salmon", and "Northwest Passage" are three.
  • This is a common complaint regarding songs labeled "praise and worship" (or in more recent times, contemporary worship music); usually as a suggestion that the newer songs tend to have less depth compared to traditional hymns.

Other Examples


  • A scene in Canadian Bacon has John Candy and the other two guys singing the chorus of "Born in the USA" and "Oklahoma!!" over and over again because they don't know the rest of the lyrics.
  • "When You Wish Upon a Star", as heard in Pinocchio.
  • The movie version of The Sound of Music famously opens with Julie Andrews singing the title song's refrain. Not only does the stage version include the verse, you can still hear its music in the movie's orchestral introduction if you listen carefully.
  • The Transformers: The Movie appears resigned to this. It adds completely forgettable lyrics around the already well-known "Transformers, more than meets the eye" Expository Theme Song, then removes them when the song is sung at the beginning of the movie, only playing them during the credits.
  • Several of the songs from The Wizard of Oz have verses not used in the movie, including "Over The Rainbow", "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead", "If I Only Had a Brain/Heart/Nerve", and "The Merry Old Land Of Oz".
    • Even more surprising are songs that got cut out of the film entirely, including "The Jitter Bug", "Happy Glow", and "The Ozphabet". (The musical stage version retains many of them.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The theme song for The Jeffersons.
  • "Boss of Me", the title song for Malcolm in the Middle by They Might Be Giants, was only used in full once on the show: an extended music-video-like opening for season 2's "Old Mrs. Old".
  • The chorus of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers theme song is iconic, but few people actually remember the opening verse—likely because only the chorus was in the opening of the show.
    "They've got a power and a force that you've never seen before.
    They've got the ability to morph and to even up the score.
    No one can ever take them down.
    The power lies on their side!"
    • Power Rangers Samurai reuses the theme, but gets rid of everything but the chorus and changes the lyrics slightly. The only lyrics are "Go go, Power Rangers," and "Rangers together, samurai forever" (in place of "you Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers").
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Plato's Stepchildren", the song "Maiden Wine" sung by Leonard Nimoy actually has two verses. It is usually cut for length on television. This song also suffers from I Am Not Shazam since the name of the song is usually called "Bitter Dregs" and the mistaken assumption that those words are the chorus of the song but they only appear in the first verse.

  • "Anything You Can Do" has a short verse, but it's not used in Annie Get Your Gun.
  • Original cast albums of older Broadway musicals often removed the verses of songs, either to keep playing times down on LP (or, worse, 78 RPM) sides, or to make them more presentable as potential song hits. One example of this is "I've Got You to Lean On" from Anyone Can Whistle.
  • "How to Handle a Woman" from Camelot.
  • "The Sewing Bee" from The Golden Apple (whose original cast album was severely abridged in general).
  • "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods has verses not used in the show.
  • "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady (though the verse used in the song really doesn't work without the dialogue bridge).
  • The verse to the title song of Of Thee I Sing was printed in the vocal score, but with a note saying that it is not used. Few recordings include it.
  • "All The Things You Are", the Breakaway Pop Hit from the Broadway flop Very Warm for May, originally had a lengthy verse that was cut down to six lines for the separately published edition. Few recordings bother to include any of it.
  • "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl has a brief opening verse ("If you live your life, life is bound to teach you...") that is not sung in the show.

    Video Games 
  • The boss fight against the Cruise Chaser in Final Fantasy XIV has music with lyrics that is basically "Forward and back and then forward and back and then go forward and back, then put one foot forward" being sung several times in a row before the lyrics change. Because of how catchy the chorus is, many players sing it without singing the other parts of the song, if they even know about them at all.
  • In Sonic Heroes each of the team theme songs are played this way when the teams have to fight each other.

    Western Animation