It’s a fairly common event: a singer timidly steps on stage, belts out a song and the judge’s chair doesn’t turn around. The singer, though talented, doesn't move on to the next round due to one thing, song choice.
Choosing a song that is adapted to your voice is not to be taken lightly: a song that you like doesn't mean automatic success. Careful selection can make the difference between a successful rendition that highlights your abilities and one that magnifies your imperfections.
Here are some tips to contemplate when picking a song that’s right for your voice.
Consider the song’s composition
- Are the lyrics simple or complicated? Try rapping to Rap God - Eminem. Now try out Happy - Pharrell Williams. Notice a difference?
- Is the melody varied and arduous? Take the example of Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers. It is one that’s consistently cited as "difficult" due to its extensive vocal range and dynamics.
- Is there instrumental support? Will your voice be carried by one or many instruments? Are there parts of the song where you will need to sing a cappella? It's important to consider how often and when you will be singing accompanied by an instrument.
This may be the most important aspect in song selection. You likely wouldn’t set out to run a marathon without first having an idea of your capabilities. The same can be applied with song selection. Think about the following:
- What are your likes and dislikes? It isn't in liking something that we are naturally good at it. First, identify the songs that you like and that you feel may suit you. Don't hesitate to get the thoughts of those around before going solo.
- Identify your vocal tessiture. There’s only one Mariah Carey and Céline Dion for a reason! Knowing your tessiture and being able to control your voice in any situation is imperative.
Constructive criticism is your friend
Optimism is a good thing, but blind optimism or plain ignorance can hurt you when choosing a song. Don’t be afraid to ask feedback from those around you and/or your audience. They may be hearing something that you’re not and their observations may help you to quickly identify necessary modifications.