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How to Choose the Right Song for My Audition

Last Updated: January 11, 2022 / by Brian Collins

One of the most challenging things about auditions is choosing the right song. Choose the right song and you might just ace it...choose the wrong song, and you're out. We've all seen American Idols. You only have 30 seconds to impress the judges, so you have to make it count! And so many people fail all because of the wrong song choice!

To avoid this costly mistake, here are some tips to help you stand out from your competition and shine like the star you are. This is your chance, so grab it with with both hands...

Your Own Voice

Take the time to find your vocal range. Once you know your vocal ability and range, choosing a song becomes a lot easier. 

Whether your voice is low and rich, or soars through the high notes, you need to build a repertoire of songs that shows who you are as an artist. The best way to see what works is to try many different songs.

Remember, if you experience any strain while singing a song, you know it’s out of your comfortable vocal range and it’s best to avoid it.

The Type of Audition

Know your audience and what they will like. In other words, choose a crowd pleaser and you will have the judges eating out of your hand. But what does it really mean to know your audience?

We all know it won’t be a smart move to show up at a rock audition and sing country. The chances are that judges aren’t going to be that impressed.

Pop or rock auditions are different and require originality. Judges like to be surprised by a forgotten oldie as they easily get bored by hearing different versions of the same chart-toppers. So, instead of being predictable, avoid choosing overdone songs and try be different from the mainstream. 

On the other hand, opera auditions focus more on the technique where the singer shows off their voice with vocal runs and leaps; impressing the judges with a more predictable and grand show. Musical theater also wants to see the type of character you’ll be ideal for through your chosen song, so always keep in mind your audience when choosing an audition song. 

Generally, less is more, and in the case of an audition, it’s also true!  As long as you show what you’re made of in the short time you've been given. 

Always do your research before an audition and think about the people you will be auditioning for. Those people sitting at the judges’ table have been listening to singers all day long. And you don’t want them to groan the minute you start singing because you’re the 100th person to sing “Let it go”.

Your Portfolio

Always keep in mind that your voice is a part of the package. Your age, training, gender, and personality all shape your portfolio – which guides you in the music industry. In short, always stay true to yourself and your abilities.

There is no reason for you to pretend to be something you’re not. The song you choose needs to be appropriate for your age and gender, as well as suit your ability and personality. 

When the chosen song goes against one of these factors, you are most likely setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. The moment a puzzle piece doesn’t fit, the judges will notice it.

The Attention Span of The Judges

Generally, less is more, and in the case of an audition, it’s also true!  As long as you show what you’re made of in the short time you've been given. 

A few internet searches can give you lists of the most overdone audition songs that the judges are probably tired of hearing. As well as song suggestions that the judges could like!

Unique Song Arrangement 

Along with being tired of overdone songs, the judges don’t need an endless song to know whether they want you or not. They usually hear what they want to hear in the first 30 seconds of your singing. So, it’s important to cut and arrange your song strategically.

As a general rule, don’t include too much repetition in your selected cuts. And as you’re cutting the song, avoid having two verses in a row or a double chorus that sounds the same. 

If you decide to go with the beginning of the song and not the end, make sure you still know the whole song and can sing it with confidence. There is always a small chance that the judges want you to finish.

Building a Repertoire is Vital

Many artists can confirm that auditions usually happen on short notice; leaving you with not enough time to find the ideal song and rehearse.

Building a repertoire of songs that you’re good at and covers as many audition requirements as possible (like up-tempo songs or ballads) will save you time. Not having to learn a whole new song for every audition will also lighten the load.

Compile a file that exists out of an array of songs from different contemporary styles and genres. By having contrasting pieces ready to go when asked, the stress of preparation time will be cut. Just remember to do revision and keep those songs polished!

Choose a Song You Love

When you prepare your audition song, you are going to sing that song more than once. And if you’re singing a song that you hate, your practice session will quickly become a frustration.

It's important to have a connection to the song that you pick so that you are able to capture the emotion

About the Author: Brian Collins

I am a classically trained singer who believes that every instrument requires maintenance - including the voice! I started my professional music studies at the age of 8 and competed in and won several local and state piano competitions. I graduated with honors and earned my Bachelor of Music Education in 2003, and since then I have studied with famous musicians and teachers around the world. I have also completed hundreds and hundreds of voice lessons, exploring various methods, and attended countless seminars on voice coaching for all ages.

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