Song Choices: Choosing a Song for Open Mics & Auditions
Making the right song choice for an audition or open mic songs is crucial. It could be a decision which makes you stand out, so picking the correct song can define a singer and maximize your chances to shine.
You should choose a song that resonates with you emotionally and shows off your voice. However, choosing a song that is too challenging could lead to more mistakes. Whether it’s for open mics or auditions, we’ll help you make the right song choice.
Once you’ve chosen your song, you can focus on interpreting and covering the song in your unique style and voice.
Best songs for open mic nights and auditions
It can be difficult to choose what to perform so we’ve picked out some of our favourite audition open mic songs to help you out.
- Pharell Williams – Happy
- Cee Lo Green – Forget You
- Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
- Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi
- John Mayer – Daughters
- Sia – Buttons
- Alicia Keys – If I Ain’t Got You
- Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
- Aretha Franklin – Respect
- Michael Bublé – Feeling Good
- Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
- Elton John – Your Song
How to choose an audition or open mic song
#1 Find your vocal style and range
Knowing your voice is important so that you can access your strengths and weaknesses to ensure you know what to develop. With this knowledge, it then makes it easier to know what key sing songs in at open mics or auditions
Making a song choice that really shows off the sweeter tone in your range is always going to be best. Working with a vocal coach can really help you establish what this is. It’s pointless selecting a song that you struggle to sing and are unable to reach either the low or the high notes.
#2 Make it your own.
Make a song choice that you can make your own but only if it’s not too farfetched. You need to consider if it is going to fit your image, style and age. However, you don’t want to be too predictable because showing off your own originality and individuality is crucial in helping you stand out from the crowd. Perhaps if singing a cover, sing something that was originally done by the opposite sex. It then instantly has to change will be different from the original.
Picking a song choice that doesn’t demonstrate any of your talents or originality is not a good pick. If it offers no room for you to shine will not impress any judges so get the balance right. The song needs to be your moment to grab the judges’ and audiences’ attention and stand out.
#3 Switch up the Technique
Things you can change around include the projection, vocal tone, the tempo and/or the instrumentation. Performing a straight up cover won’t show any imagination or originality on your behalf. The more ways you can alter the original song to create something unique, the better.
A slowed down, different style of genre version of a cover would be something truly unique that would get people interested for example. Try different styles to singing the cover, this will help you find your own voice and to develop unique vocal flares.
Remember song choice isn’t everything. It is also important to perform, add dynamics, engage with the audience, connect to the music and bring out the emotion of the song. The performance will be lifeless otherwise and all the hard work selecting the song choice will be partially let down!
#4 Connect with the emotion
Whatever song you do the most important thing to think about is whether you’re connecting with the song. Trying to sing a song that you do not feel an emotional connection to will be plainly obvious to your audience, so a top tip whilst learning how to sing with emotion is to pick songs you understand and connect with.
Picking a song that you like will help you connect with the emotion in the song but don’t pick a song just because you enjoy it. It needs to showcase your singing abilities and your unique artistry, so if that means picking a song you don’t normally listen to, then that’s what it has to be.
#5 Record your rehearsal
Recording or filming you performing the song can also help you hear your performance. You and others can then analyse it and see if there are any changes you can make to make your performance better!
#6 Don’t show off
It is good to demonstrate your technique but it is easy to overdo it. It can make you come across as arrogant and the chances of you failing become higher. If you do mess up, don’t expect the audience or judges to have much sympathy for you.
Selecting an audition song just on the merits of showing off your vocal is such a common error and is a poor reason for a song choice. Don’t take on an epic, powerful song by someone like Whitney Houston or Adele as this is a huge risk and can only result in leaving a bad impression of your talent. In a pressured environment if it doesn’t sound as good as the original, people will criticise it.
#7 Find a vocal coach
A vocal coach can help you with your technique and performance. Most importantly, they will help you with all the points we’ve mentioned above. A good vocal coach will bring out the best in your voice and show you what songs you can sing well for an audition or open mic.
Open mic and audition Song Choices – Songs Not to Choose
Try picking a song that hasn’t been covered numerous times otherwise it will be hard to stand out and you will risk your version getting lost amidst the other versions. Pick something modern or if an old song put a modern twist on it. Also, remember to select a song that is applicable and appropriate to your age
DO NOT pick a popular song, every year at the Open Mic UK auditions we will hear the song of the moment; Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J and not forgetting the very popular Frozen song “Let It Go.” You want to pick a song that isn’t covered very often; so avoid picking something constantly played on the radio or currently in the charts.
Selecting a song choice just on the merits of showing off your vocals like taking on an epic, powerful song by someone like Whitney Houston or Celine Dion can only result in it being out of your league and leaving a bad impression of your talent. If it doesn’t sound as good as the original, people will critique it!
It is essential you pick a song that you like and are able to connect with but don’t pick a song just because you like it. It needs to showcase your singing abilities and your unique artistry, so if that means picking a song you don’t normally listen to, then that’s what it has to be.
Audition Song Advice
If in doubt, ask for feedback from a vocal coach or trusted friends and family. Perform the song for them, ask for their honest opinions and ask open questions. At the end of the day, song choice is down to you, the singer, but constructive criticism can help you realise if the audition song is working.
It’s a lot to remember so that’s why it’s important to focus on the basics which all comes down to doing the hours of practice!