Do you know how to choose the right song for your voice?
Well, I am not sure if there is such a thing as “the perfect song”.
We are all humans and we have different likings, preferences and tastes.
However, a good song selection, independent of whether you are preparing for a performance, singing gig, competition or audition, can determine your success.
I know one thing though.
If you pick a song that does not match your personality, vocal style or your current skills, your audience will notice and you may not be happy with the outcome of your performance.
Let’s find out what makes the perfect choice (or close to perfect).
How do you (personally) choose the right song to sing?
What factors do you consider before you decide to spend time on mastering a song?
Do you choose a song based only on its popularity or just because “you like it”?
What questions do you ask yourself to make a good song selection?
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How to choose the right song?
When you are making a song selection, you need to consider not only your skills and preferences but also your audience.
Your listeners will have expectations and preferences that may determine how your performance will be accepted.
Take into consideration who will be listening to you.
A panel of judges, a gathering made of parents and friends, or a group of teenagers will have different expectations from your performance.
The music genre that you prefer will certainly dictate where you want to be seen and heard. For example when you sing a more classical repertoire, you probably will not seek karaoke clubs.
If your repertoire appeals to a wide range of audience, then think twice what kind of songs you are going to perform.
Also think about the mood you want to create: do you want your audience to dance and have fun or do you want to make them nostalgic and sentimental?
This is probably one of the most important factors to consider when making a song selection (in my opinion).
After all, you don’t want to choose a song that will highlight your limited range, pitch problems, unpleasant tone or other technical problems you may have.
Therefore, it is very important to know what you can currently do with your voice.
Know your vocal skills and limitations.
For example, if you are aware of not being able to sing very high notes, you can pick a song to sing that will “hide” this fact.
Choose a song that is in your current vocal range. Your audience will never know that you cannot hit the high note out of your range.
Sometimes, we want to challenge ourselves and we select a song to sing with one or two high notes that are little to high for our comfort zone.
That’s brave but is it smart?
If you choose a song with a part that is out of your range, you may be nervous, which may also show in your performance.
Challenge yourself in practice but for an audition or competition go for a song within your range.
Sometimes we choose a song to sing because we like the voice of the original artist.
This may be a pitfall because your audience will compare you to the original interpreter.
If the song does not suit your voice, the audience will think your performance is inferior.
On the other hand, if your voice fits and sounds exactly like the original performer, your audience may think that you are a copycat.
Sometimes, that’s a good thing, sometimes, it is not.
If you write your own songs or if you are selecting less known songs, you may be more successful.
Always consider how the song will show your vocal talent.
Tailor it to your vocal range and technical abilities.
Don’t allow your weakness to be highlighted.
If you get this part right and you choose the right song to sing for your voice, you can focus on other aspects of your performance instead of the technical side of it.
Changing the song’s key is easy and it can help to make a song showcase your voice.
Always consider the key of a song and the possibility of changing it to fit your vocal range.
Here is some advice by a vocal coach about making a good song selection in the right key.
If a song is too high or too low for your voice, you will not impress your audience. There is also a possibility of vocal injury if you are going out of your range.
Changing the key does not work with every song but it is worth exploring.
For example, if a female singer wants to choose a song originally performed by a male singer, she can change the key to make the notes higher.
You should change the key of a song, if it is either too high or too low for your voice.
You should also change the key if most of the song is in a weak part of your vocal range (for example when a big part of the song is around your transition from one register to another).
If you cannot change the key, you can change the song slightly.
For example, if the song has a few notes out of your range, change the melody to suit your range (sing those high notes lower).
However, if you choose a well-known song, the change may be very obvious and your audience may notice it.
Your audience may or may not pay attention to the lyrics of the song.
Some people listen to the words you are singing.
Other people do not think twice about the message of the song.
Some people like songs with easy words that do not have any depth, others prefer lyrics that will make them analyze the meaning of the song.
You, the interpreter of a song, also have different preferences.
However, do not underestimate your audience and choose the right song with lyrics that you can relate to.
The song should come across as part of your personality.
Sing songs that tell your story, share your ideas, or communicate your feelings.
If you are not a “tough guy”, don’t pick songs with rough messages.
Choose words that suit your personality better.
When it comes to swear words, teenage audience may admire songs spiced up with some profanity.
Older generation will not appreciate songs that use swear words and may earn you disapproval from your audience.
A “good” song usually has a melody that is catchy, memorable or singable.
You may prefer melodies that are not popular and are more “unique”.
But will your audience appreciate your unique music selection?
Will they remember the melody?
Will they be able to sing along?
The song’s melody should be able to emotionally resonate in your listener and leave them inspired.
Let me share a story with you.
My son decided to sing “Piano Man” for one of his performances. The audience was mixed – adults with children. After the performance, my son shared his observations with me: “Everyone over fifty sang along because they knew the song. Everyone younger hummed the melody because it was catchy.” His song selection was perfect and it resonated in his audience.
When choosing a song, consider a melodic song that will highlight your singing voice.
A song with dull and monotonous melody will make your voice seem dull too.
Let the melody do the job of complimenting your range and dynamics.
Make a good song selection to compliment your audience’s expectations and preferences.
Here is an infographic which summarizes the main points of this article:
Infographic: How to Choose the Right Song to Sing
Embed this infographic on your site. Use the following HTML code:
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An older infographic on this topic: Choose the Right Song.
Ask for Feedback
Getting feedback is always useful. You can get feedback from your friends or from a professional (vocal coach/teacher, choir master). I am sure they will share their opinion about your song selection.
You can also get feedback by recording yourself on a regular basis.
Listen to your performance with an open mind. Do not be overly critical but ask yourself the right questions:
- Does the song fit my vocal abilities?
- Is the song in the right key for my voice?
- Does the song have the right lyrics so that both the audience and I can relate to?
- Does the song have the right melody that compliments my vocal abilities?
If you can answer yes to all of the questions, then you are making the perfect song selection.
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To help you make a good song selection, I put together a few recommendations for Easy Songs to Sing For Beginners.