There are plenty of good songs to sing at talent shows and stage competitions, but there are also many overused ones to avoid. Finding something that suits the event, your voice, style and offers an element of originality is one of the keys to success.
Are you wracking your brain to come up with the perfect number that’ll put you ahead of the crowd at a singing competition? In this article, we’ll offer some examples of tracks that work well, and explain how you can find the right song to showcase your abilities.
Good songs to sing for a talent show
There are hundreds of songs to choose from, but lots of choices can be both a blessing and a curse. It certainly gives you options, but how do you know where to begin? Knowing where to start can be tricky, but with a few simples questions and steps you can narrow it down surprisingly quickly.
In fact, your song selection can be a lot of fun – it adds to the buzz of an upcoming talent show or stage competition. And once you’ve found your song (or songs) you’ll need to practice daily to prepare for your big moment.
What are good songs to sing?
The song you choose will be your moment to show the audience and panel just what you’re about as a singer. It’s important to note that for most competitions like Teenstar, whichever song you choose, you need to make it your own. There are many ways to do this. The song you choose should be special to you in some way – it’s ideal if there’s a story behind your choice.
What makes a good song for talent shows and stage competitions?
This will vary from person to person so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer. But there are some universal guidelines for every singer. Here are some of the elements you should bear in mind when choosing your song.
- What are your vocal range and preferred keys to sing in? Your song shouldn’t be too or too low for you. A singing competition isn’t the setting to experiment or stretch yourself. Focus on delivering the best of your ability. This isn’t too limiting as you can get a musician to transpose the original backing for you, to suit your voice. And many professional backing tracks come in different keys, for this very reason.
- It’s also super helpful to choose a song to sing at talent shows and stage competitions that provides you with the opportunity to perform your heart out in the spotlight. Are you better at happy or sad songs? The more you build an emotional connection with your audience, the more included they will feel. If you choose an upbeat, joyful pop track, it needs to be full of smiles and energy. Or if opting for a slow, beautiful ballad give it strong and powerful emotion.
- It should be reasonably easy if you are new to singing. What is easy for one person isn’t necessarily the same as another. But don’t pick a Mariah Carey tune with whistle notes if you haven’t yet learned how to sing that high without straining your voice. It’s too risky and not worth damaging your voice for one audition. Listen out for songs with a limited range and small jumps between notes if you are a less experienced vocalist.
- However, you should include any vocal elements at which you excel. Don’t hide your talent.
- Which songs do you hear on the radio all the time at the moment? What have been the biggest hits of the past few years? Take notice and don’t sing these at an audition, as you can bet nearly every other contestant will be. Imagine sitting through twenty renditions of Let It Go or Someone Like You. This is what judges have to do. So you’ll bring a smile to their faces when you sing something that’s not overdone.
- Is it appropriate for you? Watch for explicit content and keep your choice suitable for your age category.
- What does your singing teacher or vocal coach think? This is the person who knows your voice perhaps even better than you do. Tell them about your audition and ask for advice. If you don’t have regular lessons, see if you can get a few sessions with an expert to give you some feedback ahead of the big day.
Making talent show songs unique
Once you’ve made your song choice, you can focus on interpreting and covering the song in your unique style and voice. These are some of the ways you can do it.
- Change the tempo or rhythm from the original version (for example – a ballad can be performed up-tempo, or a dance number can become acoustic)
- Use your facial expression and mannerisms to convey the song’s emotion
- Add in movement or a very simple dance routine
- Wear something distinctive that reflects the way you’re interpreting the song
- Rather than using a backing track of the original, accompany yourself on keys or guitar – if the contest setting allows
- You could even consider writing your own piece, but if you do, be sure that it’s really catchy and good enough. Far better sing a cover really well, than perform your own mediocre composition. It’s time to really level with yourself about your writing ability here
- If you’re a girl, sing a song usually sung by a guy, or vice versa (provided you can get backing in your range)
Male and female songs for a singing competition
If you’re looking for good songs to sing then here are some good talent show songs for any competition, whether it’s The Voice, X-Factor or even TeenStar UK. We also explain why they work, so you can understand how to make your selections out with this list.
#1 Mountains by Lucy Spraggan
Lucy’s collection of thought-provoking and unique songs are well worth investigating – and Mountains is a great place to start. She is herself a competition veteran having launched her successful career in 2011 through Future Music’s Live and Unsigned contest.
#2 God is a Dancer by Mabel
The daughter of Neneh Cherry started her career as a young teen. This number will work well if you’re a fantastic mover and want to add in some dance elements to your audition.
#3 Makeba by Jain
If you like music with a message this is for you. A tribute to singer and human right activist Miriam Makeba, not only does it allow performers to give a gutsy performance full of attitude, it’s a quirky and catchy tune.
#4 Easily by Bruno Major
A gentle, easy tune that won’t tax the voice. It can be taken up-tempo for a different perspective. If you have a smooth velvety tone, this kind of music is ideal.
#5 You and I by Ingrid Michaelson
Spread some joy with this super cute little ditty. It’s even better if you play the ukulele and have a slightly folk sound. The original is performed as a duet but works just as well solo.
#6 Mmm Bop by Hanson
While massive hits are best avoided, the ones of yesteryear are fair game. In fact, a bit of familiarity can be great. If you have a boyband vibe, look at some classics of the past, like this cheesy but fun tune.
#7 Black Magic by Little Mix
Similarly, if you have a girl band vibe, bands like Little Mix have tons of numbers – just don’t pick one that’s currently charting.
#8 Mouthwash by Kate Nash
Another great artist to look to for alternative, retro-style numbers is Kate Nash.
#9 Sign Of The Times by Harry Styles
If you’re seeking an emotive ballad, heart-throb Harry Styles has this to offer. It especially suits those with a slightly raspy rock-pop tone and a light tenor range.
#10 Alaska by Maggie Rogers
A gentle indie sound that will work well for girls with the ability to access a breathy upper range.
#11 Don’t Kill My Vibe by Sigrid
If you don’t want to choose between ballad and up-tempo, go for something like this that crosses between the two. You can add some movement to this kind of song without making it a full-on routine.
#12 Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
Get your audience and the judges hyped up with a euphoric track like this. It has been covered a great deal, but as it’s not current it can work well. Be sure to add your individuality to it.
#13 Make Your Own Kind of Music by Paloma Faith
Few songs could be as appropriate for a competition as this dramatic musical anthem. But if you do choose a number like this, you’ll need bags of attitude and personality.
#14 I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys
TBT the 1990s and this mega boyband. Again, looking to the hots of the past can be helpful, just be careful not to copy the delivery, or your performance will look dated.
#15 Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
The recent cover of this original folk classic shows how an older song can be brought into the present and sung in a completely different style. This can be a real tear-jerker, so if you do emotion well, it’s a winner at a contest.
There are so many good songs to choose from for talent shows and singing competitions. No doubt you’ll find just the right fit for you and your voice. And remember, when you do, practice, practice, practice till its perfect. Good luck!
- What song should I sing for The Voice audition?
The Voice and The Voice Kids are some of the biggest shows on TV, putting contestants in front of a national audience of fans and talent scouts. So auditioning for The Voice is a big deal for any young emerging singer. Here are some suggested songs from Rachael Burgess that may work for you.
- What are the best songs to sing acapella?
A Capella groups are popular and growing thanks in part to films like Pitch Perfect giving a window into what the A Capella world is like. Take Lessons has compiled a list of the 50 best ones to try – but anything you can sing fully in tune that sounds good without backing can be a contender.
- What is the best song to sing karaoke?
Karaoke is a whole different ball game, as it’s all about the quality of backing tracks. Many are very hard to follow or in the wrong key for you as an individual. The people who excel at karaoke are those who practise with the specific tracks and know their song inside out.
What’s your go-to song for a talent show audition? Let us know what songs you sing and why in the comments below.