The middle 8 is a section of a song (generally in the middle) that departs from the rest of the song in some way, perhaps by introducing a different chord progression or melody, or even by changing tempo or key. The middle 8 is generally used to inject a bit of variety into a song that might otherwise get boring just following the standard verse / chorus / verse / chorus structure.
It is called the middle 8 because traditionally it would have been an 8-bar section in the middle of a song.
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