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Dual-Meaning Chorus

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This is a Music Trope where the chorus is intentionally written to have two or more interpretations, frequently a literal one and a metaphorical or spiritual one. Each verse sets up a new and different interpretation for the chorus. Done well, it makes the audience say, "Ohh, that puts it in a whole new light." A staple of country music, but not exclusive to it. Can also show up in poems that have a repeating refrain.

Here we're just including cases where the chorus remains mostly identical, with maybe a few small changes. In some cases the lyrics don't clearly have multiple meanings by themselves, but the meanings are suggested by the accompanying video.

Compare Dark Reprise. Compare and contrast with Lyric Swap, where the different meaning isn't from context, but from noticeably different words. Often overlaps with Age-Progression Song. Subtrope of Double Meaning.


Country Music

  • Lauren Alaina uses a variant on "Eighteen Inches". The chorus refers to the "eighteen inches" between your head and your heart, but the third verse repurposes it for the size of the baby that the newly married couple has.
  • Dierks Bentley, "I Hold On": The title applies to both material objects that he never gives up on (his truck and guitar) and a woman whom he vows to stay true to forever.
  • Boy Howdy: "They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore". Said of a car in the first verse, a woman in the second.
  • "Ordinary Life" by Chad Brock, about a man who abandons his wife and child to chase his dreams. The first chorus outlines their routine, and he feels trapped by it. Their "ordinary life" is suffocating. The second chorus is from his wife's point of view, now alone with their young son, and the same routine is comforting. Their "ordinary life" is safe, secure. The third chorus is from the husband's point of view again. He's calling from the airport asking to come home. His new life has left him lonely; he misses his wife and son, and the familiarity of their "ordinary life."
  • Dean Brody: "Brothers". The narrator begs to do anything to keep his older brother from going off to war, and is told "this is what brothers are for". They interact through letters in the second verse, once again echoing that sentiment. When the brother finally comes back, he's in a wheelchair and apologizes for having to be pushed in one, but the narrator says "this is what brothers are for" yet again.
  • Garth Brooks:
    • "The Thunder Rolls" goes from the literal thunder of a stormy night to the emotional thunder of a woman who realizes her husband's been cheating on her. And the long version's third verse gives a third meaning...the thunder of a gunshot.
    • In the first chorus, "another love goes cold" refers to the husband's affections cooling as he has an affair; in the second, it refers to the wife's heart breaking as she realizes her husband's been unfaithful; and in the third, it refers to a body rapidly assuming room temperature.
    • An album cut, "Cowboy Cadillac," is intentionally written to be ambiguous as to whether the singer is referring to a truck or a woman. "She's the perfect picture of a perfect mixture 'tween a woman and a fine machine..."
    • "What She's Doing Now" is an interesting variant, in which the phrase is used in the verses and in the chorus. In the verses, it's about the singer trying to look up his ex, because he's wondering "what she's doing now." In the chorus, he talks about how he can't stop thinking about her and it's causing him pain, and he wonders if she knows "what she's doing now" to him.
  • "She Couldn't Love Me Anymore" by T. Graham Brown has a dual meaning title: The singer had a great woman, and "she couldn't love me any more "...but he was bad to her, and she found another man, and "she couldn't love me anymore".
  • Johnny Cash: "One Piece at a Time". The singer, a General Motors mechanic, resolves to steal the pieces to build one of the Cadillacs he covets. The chorus has him reveling over getting such a fancy car for free and declaring that he'll drive everyone else wild because no one else will have one. Once he's finally gotten everything, he realizes a problem — the parts are from different years. The resulting mashup runs, but it draws odd looks and laughter rather than envy, putting a totally different meaning to the chorus.
  • Kenny Chesney: "There Goes My Life" (In the first verse, "life" is literal: the narrator thinks his life is over because he's going to be a young father. After that, his daughter is "his life": in the second verse she "goes" up to bed, and in the third, she leaves for college.)
  • Terri Clark: "She Didn't Have Time". First, the single mother doesn't have time to work up emotions to process the emotions of leaving her man. Then she doesn't have time to work a new man into her life. Then a friendly stranger catches her off-guard, and she doesn't have time to come up with a convenient lie to brush him off.
  • Luke Combs: "Even Though I'm Leaving". The title line "Even though I'm leavin', I ain't goin' nowhere" refers to interactions between a father and son. In the first verse, the son is scared by monsters under his bed; the second has the son being nervous about going off to war; and the third refers to the father on his deathbed.
  • Bucky Covington - "I'll Walk". The first chorus is about the girl getting upset at the boy after the prom and getting out of the car to walk home. Second chorus is after the girl gets hit by a car and paralyzed, sung from her hospital bed. Third chorus, the boy proposes; the girl sings this to her father, explaining she doesn't want to go down the aisle in her wheelchair.
  • Diamond Rio's "Meet in the Middle." The first chorus is about literally meeting in the middle of their two houses when the singer and his partner were childhood friends, the second about metaphorically meeting in the middle and making compromises in their marriage.
  • Sara Evans' "You'll Always Be My Baby" is similar to "Love Without End, Amen" (see below), with the God and mother-to-daughter verses reversed.
  • In comedy country singer Kinky Friedman's "We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You," the narrator is denied entrance to a cafe with the title words, as he looks like a Communist and a Jew.
    • In the next verse, the rabbi at the synagogue tells him that because he doesn't have a ticket and tie, "We reserve the right to refuse services to you."
    • The next verse takes a more serious anti-war tone as the narrator wishes he could refuse military service to U.S. troops in South Asia.
    • Finally, the narrator fears that when he tries to get into heaven, he'll be told, "Our quota's filled for this year / On singing Texas Jews, / We reserve the right to refuse service to you."
  • J. Michael Harter's "Hard Call to Make" is a non-chorus variant. Every verse ends with the line "When it's your dad, that's a hard call to make." The first verse is about a controversial little league baseball umpire call; the second, about calling his dad after being arrested for drunk driving with friends; and the third, about deciding whether or not to pull the now-ailing father off life support.
  • Ty Herndon's "A Man Holdin' On (To a Woman Lettin' Go)" is more of a dual-meaning hook. The song has no chorus, instead using the title phrase throughout the verses. It sets up various scenes (a young couple skinny-dipping, a man drowning his sorrows, a father watching his daughter get married, an elderly man dealing with a wife who's about to die), all of which are variations of "a man holdin' on to a woman lettin' go".
  • "You Can't Lose Me" by Faith Hill: The first verse refers to a consolation by a mother after a daughter loses a field day race; the second verse has the now-grown daughter saying this to her mother after the daughter moves out on her own.
  • George Jones's "The One I Loved Back Then" has a variation, in that both iterations are about the same thing, with the effect achieved through misdirection. Or, as the song goes, "it ain't the car I want/it's the Brunette in your 'Vette that turns me on".
  • "The Call" by Matt Kennon: The first chorus is about a suicide, the second an abortion. In both cases, the people attempting to do either are turned around by a phone call.
  • Sammy Kershaw's "Me and Maxine". In the first two verses, "There's something between me and Maxine" refers to forces that keep them apart from each other. In the third, it refers to the chemistry they have now that they're together.
  • Patty Loveless' "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye": Sung by the narrator's mother to her: first helping her young daughter adjust to moving and leaving her friend behind. Second to the narrator, now grown, about her impending divorce. Third, helping the narrator accept that her mother is dying.
  • Kathy Mattea's "Where've You Been" focuses on the relationship between the song's two characters Edwin and Claire. The first time the chorus is sung, it's as Claire and Edwin fall in love. The second time the chorus is sung, it's as Edwin comes home after being late enough to scare Claire half to death. The final time the chorus is sung is a Tear Jerker as the doctors wheel Edwin in after the much older Claire has lost her memory and hasn't spoken for who knows how long.
  • "Wrong Again" by Martina McBride does a variant. The song has no chorus but has three verses all ending in the title phrase. The first two have her expressing that she is "wrong again" about a failed relationship turning around for the better. The third verse then turns it around for a more uplifting note, saying that she is "wrong again" about how "the pain had last" and her "chance for happiness had passed".
  • Reba McEntire's "What Do You Say" asks the eponymous question in three delicate family situations: a boy's first exposure to pornography, a daughter who becomes drunk at a party and has to ashamedly call her parents, and a terminally ill woman who informs her husband she can no longer go on. The music video depicts all four characters as members of the same family.
  • Tim McGraw does this in "Don't Take the Girl". The first chorus is about a boy asking his father not to bring "the girl" with on their fishing trip. Second chorus is about him asking a mugger not to kidnap his girlfriend. Third chorus is about him asking God not to take his wife away after she's given birth.
  • Not exactly a chorus, but every verse of McGraw's "Felt Good on My Lips" ends with the title sentence. It refers, respectively to him saying the girl's name, singing her favorite song, drinking the drink she gives him, and their goodnight kiss.
  • John Michael Montgomery's "It Rocked" refers to the narrator being lulled to sleep by his mother in a rocking chair, receiving his first kiss, and joining a rock band.
  • "Dust on the Bottle" by David Lee Murphy. "Don't let it fool you about what's inside... it's one of those things that gets sweeter with time" first refers to a literal dusty wine bottle. In the last chorus, it's a metaphor for a lasting relationship.
  • The Joe Nichols song "If Nobody Believed In You" starts with a little boy at a baseball game giving up because his father wouldn't believe in him. The second verse has an old man giving up on driving because his son wouldn't believe in him. And in the third verse, Nichols protests the excising of religion from the schools and the final time the chorus is sung, it's talking about the possibility of God giving up on humanity because no one will believe in Him.
  • Jon Pardi, "What I Can't Put Down" (bad habits, a guitar, and his woman are instances where he's "picking up what [he] can't put down").
  • Collin Raye: "Love, Me". The chorus switches from literal to spiritual.
    • Raye did it again in "One Boy, One Girl": in the first two choruses, it's talking about two lovers; in the last chorus it's talking about newborn fraternal twins.
  • Thomas Rhett's "Remember You Young". The first verse is about how he'll always remember the reckless fun his now-mature friends had when they all were younger. The second is about how when his own children grow up he'll always remember them young. Then the third verse is about going to heaven and God looking at you like a child.
  • Julie Roberts's "Break Down Here": The first chorus is about literally driving a car and not wanting to have it break down in an isolated location. The second chorus is about escaping a failed relationship and trying to stay strong and not "break down."
  • Sawyer Brown:
    • "The Walk". In the first verse, the son is afraid to walk down the driveway to the bus on his first day of school, and the dad says "I took this walk you're walking now, boy, I've been in your shoes..." In the second verse, the son is now walking down the same driveway to drive off for a life on his own. And in the third verse, the son helps his now elderly dad walk down the driveway since he can no longer do it himself.
    • "All These Years," combined with a dual meaning hook. A man comes home to a Bedroom Adultery Scene. In the first and second choruses, the phrase refers to the husband and wife's individual grievances with their marriage—his feeling of betrayal from his years of being the dutiful husband and hers of neglect from years of being a dutiful housewife without recognition. In the third chorus, the wife has a Heel–Face Turn and realizes that "all these years" she's built with her husband and family is what she stands to lose from her adultery.
  • Crystal Shawanda's song "You Can Let Go" has the chorus "You can let go now, Daddy / You can let go / Oh, I think I'm ready / To do this on my own / It's still a little bit scary / But I want you to know / I'll be okay now, Daddy / You can let go"
    • In the first verse, the narrator is five years old, learning to ride her bike without training wheels, and her father is running beside her, holding her bike steady.
    • In the second verse, the narrator is getting married, and when the chorus comes, it's time for her father to give away the bride, but he's still holding her arm.
    • In the third verse, the narrator's father is in the hospital with a terminal disease, and his daughter is trying to convince him to stop fighting.
  • SHeDAISY's "A Night to Remember"'s chorus has a woman looking back on her wedding, and takes a darker tone throughout the song: first as she's getting ready for an anniversary date, then after the song reveals she knows about her husband's affair, and finally after she kills herself and her husband by sending their car falling into a canyon.
  • Blake Shelton's "When Somebody Knows You That Well" (trying and failing to hide something from his father, wife, and God)
  • Ricky Van Sheltonnote : "Keep It Between the Lines" (A teen learning to drive, coloring in a coloring book with his young son, figuring out how to be a single parent when his wife dies).
  • TG Sheppard's "Do You Want To Go To Heaven"; the first time the chorus refers to his baptism, the second and third time to sex.
  • In George Strait's "Love Without End, Amen" the line "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love" is repeated three times, one from Dad to Main Character, one from Main Character to Son, and the last from Jesus (Son of God) to Main Character (as he imagines his arrival in Heaven to go).
    • Also used by Strait in "The Best Day," which involves a son telling his father that "today's the best day of my life" after going camping as little kid, receiving a car for his sixteenth birthday, and getting married.
  • Daryle Singletary: "I Let Her Lie" (chorus switches from letting his girlfriend lie about her affairs, to leaving her lying in their bed)
  • "Already Gone" by Sugarland. In the first verse, she's already gone off to live on her own; in the second verse, she's already gone and fallen in love; and in the third, she's already gone and left him.
    • Also, "Stay". In the first verse, she's asking her lover to "stay" instead of returning home to his wife. By the end, she realizes she will never have "the best of him," so she says "So the next time you find you want to leave her bed for mine / Why don't you stay?"
  • Chalee Tennison's "Go Back". In the first verse, a trucker stops at a diner and converses with the only (female) worker there. He starts to leave until something tells him to "Go back, you got somebody waiting / Go back, that's where you need to be right now…". Later on, they get married and he's still out on his truck route when he gets a message on his CB to cut his run short and "go back" to his wife, who's just given birth. On the way back, the truck gets in an accident, and the trucker is seriously injured, to the point that he "slip[s] into the light" — until the angels tell him "Now is not your time / Go back, you got somebody waiting…".
  • "Not Me" by Keni Thomas. The title phrase is spoken by three people in different situations: a father coaxed into coaching a little league team, a woman forced into raising her younger siblings after their parents die... and in the third verse, the narrator, who is awarded a medal of honor but insists that it go to the soldiers who died instead.
  • Randy Travis' "Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man" has the main character choosing between the two options in three different life scenarios: whether to consummate a teenage romance, whether to support the resulting child, and whether to commit adultery.
  • Tanya Tucker's "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane" takes this to the extreme. The entire first and third verses are the same, with only a single word changed at the beginning ("She's (sixteen/eighty-three), and he's barely driving a car," etc.) In the beginning, they're about to leave home to start a new life together, and at the end, they're about to die of old age.
  • Conway Twitty's "That's My Job" starts with the singer as a child having a nightmare about his dad dying and asking to sleep in his bed with him, with his dad replying "that's my job". Then it goes through the singer's desire to go out west and, despite his dad's opposition, he promises he'll help him and support him if he fails, because "that's my job". And finally the singer, now established, wonders how he will eulogize his now-passed father..."that's my job."
  • Carrie Underwood: "Jesus, Take The Wheel" (from literally taking the wheel in a car crash, to "taking the wheel" of the singer's life)
    • Also, "Temporary Home" (little boy about his new foster home, single mom about the halfway house where she and her baby are staying, old man as he's about to die and says 'I'll see you again someday')
  • The chorus of Mark Wills' "Wish You Were Here" is the words a man writes on a postcard that he sends to his wife before going a trip. The words ("The weather's nice, it's paradise, it's summertime all year, and there's some folks we know, they say hello?") take on a different meaning after his plane crashes.
    • Set up and then subverted, though not clear if intentionally or not, in “Jacob’s Ladder” where the song tells of Jacob who, in the first chorus, loves Rachel and climbs up a ladder to see her in her room. When the chorus comes around the second time, it’s Rachel’s father recounting to Jacob and Rachel’s daughter how her parents fell in love when Jacob climbed the ladder to Rachel’s room. At this point the listener expects a third verse and chorus where Rachel has passed on to heaven and Jacob follows her by climbing the ladder but instead the song just ends.
  • Steve Wariner loves this trope:
    • "Some Fools Never Learn." The first chorus refers to him trying to get with a girl his friends say is bad news. The second refers to him finding out she's cheating. And the third flips the script, with him on the prowl again, and the "fool" in question being whatever girl picks him up.
    • "Holes in the Floor of Heaven." In the first chorus, the singer's mother uses this metaphor as a way to help 8-year-old him cope with the loss of his grandmother. In the second, the now-adult singer uses the same metaphor to cope with the loss of his young wife. In the third, the singer is saddened by the fact his wife won't see their daughter marry, and his daughter uses the metaphor to comfort him and assure him she is with them.
    • "I'm Already Taken." The singer tries twice to win the affection of the girl he likes, only to be told she's with someone else and will have to wait. They eventually marry, and he overhears their son ask innocently ask if she'll marry him. She tells him she's already taken (by his father), and he'll have to wait (presumably for someone else.)
    • "Two Teardrops." In the first chorus, the two teardrops—one of joy, and one of sorrow—are referring to a woman in love on her wedding day, and the old flame who attended but Did Not Get the Girl. In the second, it's for a Birth-Death Juxtaposition, with the singer at the hospital celebrating the birth of his child and crying tears of joy, while the old man next to him has just lost his wife and is crying tears of sorrow.
  • Played With in Lee Ann Womack's "Last Call," combined with Double-Meaning Title. The narrator gets a call from an ex late at night saying he still loves her, which he only ever does when he's drunk and needs a ride home (it's last call in the bar, and she's always his last call). The bridge switches it, saying "Call me crazy, I think maybe, we've had our last call," implying she's going to stop bailing him out in the future
  • "You Can Sleep While I Drive" by Trisha Yearwood (originally by Melissa Etheridge) has the title as a dual-meaning hook. The narrator senses her partner is thinking of Leaving You to Find Myself. She suggests they leave together, so at first, the hook refers to her partner sleeping in the car. Finally, she says that if the partner insists on going alone, she'll leave first, so the hook refers to her partner sleeping in their bed while she drives away.

Other music

  • DMX's "Damien" and "The Omen" use nearly the same chorus, somewhat reflecting the stage of DMX's character's possession. The first- "The Snake, the Rat, the Cat, The Dog, how're you gonna see him if you're in the fog," is used in the first song, when X first meets Damien. The second-"The Snake, the Rat, the Cat, the Dog, how're you gonna live when you're in the fog?" is used in the second, after he's been doing Damien's bidding for quite a while, and is having second thoughts about it. For an added bonus, it's sung by Marilyn Manson.
  • Genesis – "Misunderstanding". The verses describe the singer's attempt to find his partner, whom he had apparently agreed to meet for a date, leading to the chorus "there must be some misunderstanding; there must be some kind of mistake". It references their communications in setting the occasion up ... until the singer finds her in the last verse and realizes she's been having an affair. The chorus repeats; now it's clear that it's a deeper critique of their relationship.
  • Joni Mitchell - "Big Yellow Taxi": the operative line is "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" and refers first to the environment and later to the singer's relationship with her boyfriend.
    • The "big yellow taxi" in the final verse is a reference to the yellow police cars used by the Toronto police department at the time, and "old man" ambiguously refers to either a lover or a father figure, so the verse can be interpreted as either the arrest by the authorities or the abandonment and departure of either the singer's lover (in the present day) or father (as a child), yielding four possible meanings.
  • Franz Ferdinand's hit single "Take Me Out" from their debut could be about a guy picking up a girl at a bar... but the song is more likely about the band's namesake, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, being assassinated.
  • The X Japan song "Week End." The song's chorus is about the suicidal/homicidal narrator being at "his wit's end" and "at the world's end" due to Yoshiki's odd wordplay. It makes sense, though: the idea being, "the end of a life" is indeed the "end of the world." For who's dying, anyway...
  • Shel Silverstein's "I Got Stoned And I Missed It." The first and second verses are about the narrator missing specific events because he was too wasted to pay attention. After the third verse, the "it" is his entire life.
  • "Lady Madonna" by The Beatles; "See how they run" starts by referring to her children, and ends by referring to her stockings.
  • Bob Carlisle - "Man of His Word" (same artist as "Butterfly Kisses"). It starts out referring to his father as the "man of his word" and then goes on to have it refer to Jesus as "Man of His Word".
  • Lupe Fiasco's "Intruder Alert." The phrase "Intruder, Intruder, Intruder, Intruder, Alert, Alert, Alert, Alert" is repeated in the chorus every time.
    • The first time, the lead in was "The alarms in her mind didn't tell her 'he didn't belong,' There was no..." and referred to a rape victim finally being able to love someone again.
    • The second time, the lead in was "Loves to allow these demons to come in with no...", and referred to a drug addict who didn't care that he was one.
    • The third and final time, the lead in was "...Treat you like equals, deceive you, stamp you and call you 'illegal' when there's an..." referring to an illegal Cuban immigrant making it to America.
      • Let's just agree, a vast majority of Lupe Fiasco's songs have double meanings, he's even said it. I'd say the hardest song to figure out is Twilight Zone, which is one giant, freaky metaphor.
      • Kick Push—Originally sounds like a song about a skateboarder's tale/ Also tells about how people are hated for things they love to do.
  • They Might Be Giants:
    • Kind of a stretch, but this is definitely a related idea: the song "I Can Hear You" The chorus is "I can hear you / I can hear you / I can just barely hear you". The first verse sets it up with a car alarm ("This is a warning. / Step away from the car. / This car is protected by Viper."), the second as someone calling from a telephone aboard an airplane, the third as someone buzzing in a friend from an apartment intercom, and the fourth as a fast-food drive-thru cashier asking someone for their order. For bonus points, the song is recorded on a 19th-century wax phonograph, so it is indeed difficult to understand the words.
    • In "Hopeless Bleak Despair", the verses tell the ways that the narrator's depression has ruined his life, but the chorus promises that "then, one day, it disappeared". So it's a hopeful song, right? No, because at the end, it's revealed that the day that he "finally got rid of it" was when he died and went to Hell, while the despair itself went to heaven.
    • "Unrelated Thing":
      "Do you smile 'cause I'm funny?" said the man.
      "I wasn't joking, and I meant the thing I said."
      "Not at all, not at all," said the woman to the man.
      "I was thinking of an unrelated thing."
    • This turns into:
      "How come you never look me in the eye?
      Aren't you listening to me?" said the man.
      "Not at all, not at all," said the woman to the man.
      "I'm still thinking of an unrelated thing."
    • In "They'll Need a Crane," the crane is both to demolish the relationship between the couple and to build them back up again afterwards (separately, it seems).
  • Paul Simon's "Graceland" initially has the refrain "I'm going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee". The reference to Memphis is subsequently dropped. Simon says that from that point on "Graceland" is a metaphor for "something else".
  • The Protomen: "Unrest In The House Of Light" has a refrain that proceeds a bit further every time.
    • Near the start, "There was another who came before you / He was a hero and your brother and my son / He fought the darkness, the darkness won." ... "You need to know / you are not him."
    • By the end, "You need to know / you are not him / this fight's not yours / you cannot win.
  • "Message in a Bottle" by The Police. Chorus is "I'll send an s.o.s. to the world/I'll send an s.o.s. to the world/I hope that someone gets my/I hope that someone gets my/I hope that someone gets my/Message in a bottle, yeah/Message in a bottle, yeah." First verse suggests that it's a straightforward song about someone stranded on a desert island. Second verse hints that there's something more going on. Third verse makes it clear that the "deserted island" is a metaphor for loneliness, and the "message in a bottle" is a metaphor for attempts to reach out to others and make connections.
  • Rackett's "Got It Made" - the eponymous phrase is used continuously to refer to success, of course, but in the final verses, the narrator realizes he has cancer. The last verse is about the coffin maker - looks like he's already got it made...
  • Van Halen's "Running with the Devil" has two dual-meaning verses that differ by only one word. "I found the simple life / It's/wasn't so simple / when I jumped out / on that road."
  • Simon & Garfunkel's Richard Cory has the chorus "I wish that I could be ... Richard Cory", originally the singer seemingly envying his boss's wealth in comparison to the singer's poverty. We later learn that Richard Cory has committed suicide, changing the implication of the chorus considerably.
  • Barenaked Ladies:
    • The song "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel" doesn't have a chorus per se, but the line "You're the last thing on my mind" is repeated. The first time, it just means he's not thinking about his significant other; when it's repeated, it refers to that she's the last thing he ever thinks about... you know, in his life. Because he dies.
    • "Off the Hook" repeats the title lyrics throughout. First, the boyfriend is cheating and being let "off the hook". Later, it's a vengeful thing about him eating his words. At the end, the woman has left him and leaves her phone "off the hook". The Barenaked Ladies do this trope quite a bit.
  • DC Talk has a song called "What if I stumble?" In the early verses, it's "what will happen if I stumble?" as in, being afraid. After the last verse, the meaning has changed to "if I stumble, so what?"
  • Steven Curtis Chapman is fond of this trope. In some cases, he uses some situation as a metaphor for the Christian gospel, such as When Love Takes You In, where the chorus is first about a runaway or abused child being adopted into a loving home, then about a sinner finding forgiveness and acceptance with God; or the moving Free, which is first about a death row prisoner describing the hope he's found in Christ, then about the way the same could be said of all of us. Rubber Meets The Road starts off seeming to be about driving lessons, but the second verse recasts the chorus lyrics as God challenging us to live out in practice what we know in theory. He also uses this trope in other ways: That's Paradise starts off about literal heaven, then uses the same chorus about the joy of forgiveness and a new start, then about the joy of having Jesus with you in life.
  • "The Kids are Alright" by The Who. Mastery of this trope. First a chorus, a two-line bridge, then the chorus takes on a completely new meaning.
  • Sparks' "Without Using Hands" has a Title-Only Chorus that the verses give different contexts to. The first verse describes men and women meeting up under the shelter of the canopy of the Paris Ritz Hotel in the rain, planning to "love tonight, without using hands". In the second verse, a couple is showing off slides of their vacation at the same hotel to their kids; the children start misbehaving, and the father laments that "the only way children are punished, unlike old times, is without using hands". Finally, it turns out that during this vacation there was an explosion at the hotel - only the hotel manager had any serious injuries, and everyone else seems pretty unconcerned that he's "going to live his entire life... without using hands" (implying he either suffered paralysis or loss of limbs).
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "I Remember Larry": The last line of the chorus is "I'll never forget about Larry, no matter how I try". After the final verse, this line goes from meaning "I'll never forget Larry's outrageous pranks" (which involved revenge porn, property destruction, and bodily harm) to meaning "I'll never forget the fact that I stuffed Larry in a big plastic bag and left him for dead in the woods".
  • In the musical Golden Boy, "No More" is sung by Joe as a bitterly personal Break-Up Song, and by the chorus as an outspoken Protest Song.
  • "Walking Her Home" by Mark Schultz - in the first verse, he is literally walking her home (after their first date), but by the end, he is walking her home (to heaven).
  • In the musical When Midnight Strikes, Christopher West sings "Like Father, Like Son" wherein the same chorus occurs three times (including the title words) with three different meanings - an affectionate observation from a loving mother, a vow from a bereaved son that he will follow in his father's footsteps, and finally a disgusted realisation that he has done so in ways that he never intended.
  • Peter Schilling's "Major Tom" (and its cover by Shiny Toy Guns). "Earth below us, drifting, falling, floating weightless, calling, coming home..." means one thing during a successful launch to orbit and another during a return plagued by mechanical problems.
  • Sonata Arctica does this in the song "Letter to Dana". The beginning of the song is about a man whose crush has decided to leave him and go away. The chorus ends with: "Little Dana O'Hara decided one day to travel away, far away..." Second verse ends with "I won't write again 'till the sun sets behind your grave..." Knowing there is another chorus afterward, I think you can guess the second meaning...
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: The lyrics to "Red Moon" in chapter 8 first refer to the Prinnies being literally reborn... and then, repeated at the end, refer to Laharl being figuratively reborn by rediscovering love.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: The chorus of "Lost in Thoughts All Alone" at first seems to be about Corrin's choice and how that will affect the world. Once you get to the Revelation route, where it's revealed the song was written by the dragon Anankos, who was slowly losing his sanity and knew he would one day lose control of his own actions, the chorus takes on a new meaning being just as much about Anankos' lack of the ability to choose, in addition to the entire song being a father's final message to their child.
  • Harry Chapin, "Cat's in the Cradle": The chorus starts out "When you coming home, dad?' I don't know when, But we'll get together then", but then reverses the roles by changing it to "When you coming home, son?"
  • "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" by Nancy Sinatra, and later covered by Cher. The first verse is about her remembering playing cowboys with a boy as an infant, and he would always win so the chorus literally means "he shot me down". The third verse is about the same boy dumping her as an adult, so the chorus is about "shooting her down" that way. The second verse is about her claiming him as a boyfriend and him reminiscing about the game, so the chorus (which at this point is from his perspective) could mean either or both.
  • Meat Loaf, "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)": Each verse mentions something that Meat Loaf will not do. The chorus then emphasises that he won't do that. A surprising number of people ignore the verses and assert that he never tells us what 'that' is.
  • Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville": The chorus's last line changes each time, as the singer comes to admit it's his own fault his life isn't going anywhere.
  • In "The Hiver" by Steeleye Span, from the Wintersmith Concept Album, the chorus goes "Locked in screaming awareness/Of everything, all the time./How we envy you humans/When you gently close your minds." For most of the song, this is the well-known Discworld concept that Humans Are Special because they managed to invent boredom. After the last verse, "gently close your minds" refers to the other thing the Hiver can't do and humans can.
  • Kiss' "Detroit Rock City" has a typical rock chorus "everybody's gonna move their feet, everybody's gonna leave their seat, you gotta lose your mindnote  in Detroit Rock City" which is actually foreshadowing a grisly car crash.
  • Elsa's (Idina Menzel) solo "Let It Go" in Frozen starts with "let it go" referring to her freedom to finally use her power, but ends with it being a declaration that she is leaving her past behind.
  • In the sequel, Frozen II, during "Show Yourself" the titular phrase at first is Elsa calling out to the mysterious force to show itself; but later in the song the phrase is Elsa's mother (and Elsa herself) calling for Elsa to show her own, true self.
  • "And They're Off" from the Off-Broadway musical A New Brain. The first verse is about a horse race, the second is about the narrator's parents arguing, and the third repurposes it to "and he's off," referring to the narrator's Disappeared Dad.
  • Guadalcanal Diary's "Michael Rockefeller" plays this for creepiness. "He held his head in his hands" can refer to either a stranded person taking a glum posture at being lost in the jungle or a headhunter holding the head of someone they've killed.
  • Ed Sheeran's "Don't" starts with the first line of the chorus firstly coming from his lover telling him to be faithful to her, only for it to be used by him in the later choruses after he finds out she was the one cheating on him.
  • Robert Cray's "Smoking Gun." At first it's a metaphor for evidence of suspected infidelity ("And I'm so afraid I'm gonna find you with/That so-called smoking gun"), but at the end of the third verse it's literal—after finding out for certain that she was cheating on him, he's just shot her.
  • Roger Hodgson of Supertramp has mentioned in interviews that "Take The Long Way Home" can be interpreted both literally so as a rock band taking the long way to their homes when things look bleak, or about a person taking the metaphorical long way home to find God/enlightenment/inner peace.
  • "Sexy Soda Pop" by Cindy Margolis refers to female ejaculation, the joys of having sex on cocaine, and a woman who's explaining to a guy who's trying to impress with cocaine why she won't have sex with him and compares him to the guys she actually does coke and has sex with.
  • This is the writer-confirmed intent behind the song Wildfire by Marianas Trench, where the first chorus says that he'd thought this love would always burn like the titular wildfire, the second saying that 'if you change your mind again, I'll burn like a wildfire', and the third (and last one with a lead-in attached) saying maybe the couple's future is so bright it 'burns like a wildfire.'
  • The repeating refrain version is used over the course of Hamilton: one of the titular character's signature lines is "I am not throwing away my shot!" in reference to his determination to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way. However, when he says the line in The World Was Wide Enough, it has a very different meaning: here, he's referring to the literal shot in his gun, as he wonders whether or not to shoot at Burr in their famous duel.
  • Fiona Apple's "Get Him Back": The first two verses describe exes who have wronged her, with the title drop being "wait 'til I get him back", as in getting revenge. The third verse describes an ex she realizes she still has feelings for and may have dismissed unfairly: So in this case she's going "get him back" as in win him back over.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In "Sworn to the Sword", Pearl's song "Do It For Him" is supposedly her talking Connie through sword training and the mindset of body-guarding Steven that she wants Connie to learn. She unintentionally makes it also a song about her own feelings towards Rose Quartz and projecting her martyr complex onto Connie, as shown by her often substituting 'her' for 'him'.
    • The title line of "What's the Use of Feeling (Blue)". It can either be interpreted as 'What's the use of feeling blue?' or 'What's the use of feeling, Blue?' due to Yellow Diamond referring to Blue Diamond by her first name exclusively. Given the situation, both meanings resonate: the first as Yellow asking Blue what's the point in still being sad, the second asking Blue what's the point of feeling in general, fitting Yellow's desire to forget Pink Diamond so she'll stop hurting.
  • Jacques Brel's 'Les Bourgeois'— the narrator describes the mocking chant he and his drunken friends would shout to the upper-middle-class prigs drinking in the nicer establishment across the street... Then in the third verse, they all find success themselves, and in the final chorus, he describes to a policeman the rudeness he has just suffered at the hands of those punks outside the station inn...
  • "The Breaking Light" has a clever one. The chorus is broken into two sections, but the first time it comes up only the first section appears. On its own, this first section is a woman begging her brother to stay alive. Combined with the second, however, it's a promise that they will be Together in Death.
  • The Pogues' "Sally Maclennane": the first time the chorus comes up, it's about having a celebratory goodbye party for a friend who's leaving town to start a new life and walking him to the train station "though we knew that we'd be seeing him again". The last verse ends with the same person's death, and the chorus is now metaphorically about his wake.
  • Rammstein's song "Du Hast": the conjugated German verbs "[du] hast" ("[you] have") and "[du] hasst" ("[you] hate") are pronounced the same, so the chorus line "Du hast mich," when listened to, could either mean "You have me" or "You hate me". Although the word "hast" is used in the song's German title and written lyrics, on the special editions of the Sehnsucht album, the partially translated version of the song uses the English line "You hate me" instead of "You have me," indicating that this ambiguity is intended.
  • "Dreams" by Drennon Davis and Karen Kilgariff: For the first few verses, Karen tries to describe dreams she's had to Drennon, who responds with the chorus ("nobody cares about your dreams..."). In the last verse, Drennon mentions his band and Karen turns his words around on him, with "dreams" meaning "goals" this time.
  • The first half of Rush's "Kid Gloves" is about how the callousness of society teaches children "that it's cool to be so tough," while the second half is about the toll this takes on everyone - "that it's tough to be so cool." The second chorus is inverted, and some of the lines are changed to fit the rhyme scheme, but most of the lines stay the same, and the structure remains intact.
  • In the religious song "Watch the Lamb", the song begins with a Jewish father (later revealed to be Simon of Cyrene) explaining the Hebrews' history to his sons, who say they don't get what's happening, and reminding them to keep an eye on the lamb they brought for the sacrifice. At the end of the song, after the crucifixion, the boys say they don't understand all the rage and ruckus that's been going on in the city. Simon gestures to the cross and tells the children to "watch the Lamb."
  • The song "Nothing Left to Lose" from the Tangled: The Series episode "Cassandra's Revenge" starts with Varian warning Cassandra not to succumb to the dark side, as it'll end with her losing everything and being left with nothing. After he accidentally angers her with some poorly chosen words, she turns it around to say that she's already severed ties with everyone, so she might as well follow the road she's on to the end.
  • Ben Platt's "Run Away". First verse describes a couple falling in love, with the man promising to always be there for his lover in the chorus. The second verse is about them having a son, with the mother saying the same thing to him. The third verse reveals that the son is the narrator, and the lovers in the song are his parents. He then repeats the chorus to his own lover.
  • The theme of Bugsnax, "It's Bugsnax!" (by Kero Kero Bonito), has the chorus line, "Come to Snaktooth Island and discover: it's Bugsnax!". This seems to be an innocuous statement referring to the island where the game is set, which is indeed populated by the eponymous creatures, but it actually refers to the fact that the island is a Turtle Island made out of Bugsnax.
  • Jay-Z's "99 Problems" has the refrain "I got ninety-problems, but a bitch ain't one" with different meanings depending on where in the song you are:
    • When heard the first time, superficially (but actually incorrectly) the sound like a misogynistic reference to some woman.
    • After the end of the second verse in which Jay-Z tells about a traffic stop by a cop while he was drug-running but he got away with it, the "bitch" refers to the drug-sniffing K9 unit that might have busted him but never got there in time.
    • After the third verse, the chorus is altered slightly to "being a bitch ain't one".
  • The first occurrence of the titular line of The Platters' "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" is saying that Love is Blind ("when your heart's on fire [...] smoke gets in your eyes"), as the singer's friends try in vain to convince him he's naive. The second time, it's reference to Sand In My Eyes after they're proved right and his love is gone ("when a lovely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes").
  • Shadowlands from The Lion King has as the last line of its chorus “though it may take you so far away, always remember your pride” and when Nala is singing it “I will remember my pride”. It’s referring both to the Lion pride she’s part of and as a plea to remember her dignity and courage as she leaves to find help to fight Scar. It fits even better when you learn the song was inspired by a deleted scene from the animated film where Scar banished her for refusing to be his queen.
  • The song "Nina Doesn't Care" by Susan Egan starts out with the singer talking about how her daughter Nina "doesn't care" that her mother is a glamorous Broadway star, contrasting her high-flying career with the simple joys and annoyances of parenthood. But in the last chorus, the meaning shifts to talk about how when everything is going wrong, "Nina doesn't care" because she loves her mom no matter what.note 
    Nina doesn't care if I've had a lousy night
    Tired, voice worn out, every song a fight
    Or if I lost the part, a role I'd wished I'd won
    Or got a bad review — what more could I have done?
    Then holding her's the answer to my prayer
    Thank God, Nina doesn't care...
  • Daughtry's "Cry For Help" is a song expressing that, when things become too much, it’s okay to "cry for help" — meaning both physically crying and sending a distress signal to others.
  • The Aristocats has this with the film’s main song, “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat”. The first verse and chorus are referring both to them being actual cats and to the jazz slang of someone who was cool and in the know being a “cool cat” or “hep cat” that was popular when the movie came out.