Audrey Hunt, author of "Anyone Can Sing," teaches us how to choose the right song for our voices.
Six Important Tips for Selecting Your Song
You must be wondering right about now just what is involved in choosing suitable material for your particular voice. I'm going to share with you excellent but easy tips for how to go about this:
- Easy does it: Make sure your song is simple to sing in every way. The easier the song, the better you will sound. Always avoid forcing your tone to avoid damaging the vocal cords. Also, the more uncomplicated the song, the more freedom the singer has for styling and putting his own spin on it. There are some fantastic simple-to-sing songs available out there. I've listed a few below for you.
- The right key: If the song you choose is too high or too low and you end up straining your voice to reach the notes - your material is in the wrong key. It's not for you, my friend. Be aware that you can damage your singing voice this way. Think of a size 12 person trying to squeeze into a size eight dress or pair of jeans. Seams may rip, muffin tops appear, buttons pop all because the apparel doesn't fit. So, it is with singing in the wrong key.
- Like the song you choose: You'll sing better and sound better if you like the music in the first place. Just make sure to keep it simple and in your range. Believe the lyrics you sing, spreading just enough emotion to engage the audience.
- Highlight your strengths: Look for pieces that will bring attention to your singing strengths. If you pride yourself on good breath control and you can hold a note for a long time, then find a song that will allow you to "show off" during your performance. Perhaps you have an impressive range which can be a strength to be used to decorate a note or two.
- Hit a super high note: If you have this skill, then by all means, use it and wow your audience. Just don't overdo it.
- Make the song yours: The easier the song is to sing, the more liberty you can take with styling. You can make the song yours. The last thing you want to do is to be an exact copy of the recording artist who made the song famous. Make it your own! Dare to be different and sing with a unique style. Try changing the phrasing or a modulation after the bridge, which adds excitement and lifts the song's energy. Feel the passion and then feel it again. Live the lyrics. Be in the moment as you sing, and you won't have time to experience fear.
You'll Sound Better With a Song That Suits Your Voice
You've tried everything to make your singing sound better. You use the proper vocal technique, do daily warm-ups, and practice faithfully. Still, most of the songs you sing don't sound good enough. Your tone is pleasing and you sing on key. So, what's going on with your voice?
It's time to take a hard look at the songs you choose to sing. Just because Mariah Carey sounds awesome or Josh Groban is unbelievable when he sings doesn't mean the same song will suit you too - no matter how much you love it.
Six Factors Songwriters Consider When Writing for Recording Artists
One big mistake most singers have in common is choosing the wrong song to sing. Let's get one thing clear - even if you have a magnificent voice, you can't sing any song you want. Your favorite recording artist may spend months sifting through the material until he finds just the right piece suitable for his voice.
Songwriters study many factors about the professional singer and his voice when composing a song for a particular artist:
- What is the singer's range?
- How should the phrasing be laid out?
- Build the music around the singer's vocal style.
- Compose a ballad or an upbeat song?
- Does the song magnify the artist's talent?
- They write lyrics that the singer can relate to.
When you're struggling to imitate your favorite recording star, you're trying to sing a song designed for someone else and not you. As a result, you end up thinking that you can't sing very well. And others may unfairly judge you as a bad singer with no talent.
So now your self-confidence is at an all-time low, and you label yourself as un-talented with a terrible voice.
Avoid duplicating another singer. Unveil your uniqueness and build your vocal technique to make the most of your natural sound.
Easy Songs for Males and Females
|Female Songs||Male Songs||Male/Female Songs|
You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift
Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley
Top of the World - Karen Carpenter
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
House of the Rising Sun - The Animals
Fever - Peggy Lee
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
This Land Is Your Land - The Mamas And The Papas
Thank You - Dido
Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley
Teach Me Tonight
Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson
Something - George Harrison
What a Wonderful World
Broken Wing - Martina McBride
My Cherie Amour - Stevie Wonder
Smile - Michael Jackson
Someone Like You - Adele
Take Me Home Country Road - John Denver
Imagine - John Lennon
Summertime - Nora Jones
Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
Georgia - Ray Charles
As Long As He Needs Me
You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
Compare These Two Styles
Take a look at the two videos below and compare how Norah Jones sings "Summertime" to that of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
Key Points to Remember
The point is: the easier the song is to sing, the better you will sound. This is especially true when you're in the beginning stages of developing your voice. Be open to learning all you can about how the voice works by studying with a qualified instructor. Proper vocal technique will set your voice free. The more you learn, the better you'll sound. Once you master good, solid vocal technique, you may branch out into more challenging pieces.
When choosing the right song to sing, remember these rules:
- Can you sing the highest notes without pinching the sound or cracking your voice, thus making it clear to an audience that you are struggling to hit those notes? If not, you need to further stretch your range and develop your upper voice. Seek a qualified vocal coach or instructor to help you.
- Does the tone of your voice fall apart, change dramatically, become breathy or sink back into the throat when you attempt to sing very low notes? If so, you need to work on the bottom end of your range.
- Be aware of complex vocal runs, arpeggios, embellishments, and improvisations. Do you struggle to stay on pitch? If so, you may not yet be ready to sing this particular song at this time.
- Are you running out of breath or becoming lightheaded during a performance? You may need to return to the basics of proper breathing techniques. Strengthen the core muscles involved in effective breathing to develop more stamina. Closely examine where and how often you are taking breaths during a particular song. Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.
- Stronger muscles involved in breathing will ensure that you have more control and endurance. You will also need to take fewer breaths during a song, thus reducing awkward vocal phrasing and lines being chopped up by quick breaths.
- Sometimes, the problem lies more in when each breath is taken. Avoid breaking up the smoothness of a phrase by taking a catch breath. Practice singing each phrase on one breath only.
- Find a song that highlights your strengths and not someone else's. Simple pieces allow you the freedom to do this.
- Original songs, whether written by yourself or by someone who is writing specifically for your voice, allow you to be as creative as you like and define the song's personality and sound. These types of songs allow you the freedom to express yourself through your lyrical poetry and vocal interpretations and will enable you to have more control over a song's range and key.
Dare to be different and use that difference to create your unique style. Capture the mood of the song infusing your passion and feeling as you sing. Above all, focus on the lyrics and be in the moment. One of the great joys of singing is the freedom of self-expression.
The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.
— Rabindranath Tagore
© 2015 Audrey Hunt
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 09, 2018:
C E Clark
The last line of your comment is so true! And you're right about Simon Cowell asking a contestant to sing a different song. I've trained hundreds of singers to audition for these vocal shows and the first step is to choose the right song for their particular range and vocal color. It's always best to go with a simple song to match the level of vocal technique, rather than a more difficult song that the singer can't quite handle. Thanks, my friend!
C E Clark from North Texas on April 09, 2018:
This is an excellent article. I like that you give pointers on how to go about finding the right song for a person's particular voice. Different voices have different nuances and unique qualities that can be accentuated with some songs but not with others. I have watched X-Factor several times and Simon Cowell sometimes stops contestants to ask them to sing a different song than the one they've chosen. Finding just the right song can be difficult sometimes, but it's so important in order to make one's voice stand out in the best possible light. It doesn't matter how much a person may love a particular song. If it down't suit his or her voice it can end up sounding horrible.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 22, 2015:
moonlake - I believe you can, in fact, sing. The right teacher will see that you learn the needed technics to make the most of your voice. Thanks for being here and leaving your comments. Appreciate it!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on October 12, 2015:
Victoria - Well, just look at you - singing for weddings! I never knew. :) Amy Grant's voice is marvelous and I do love her style. (And her key.) So happy to see you here my friend. Keep treating others to your singing!
pstraubie48 - Singing in a church choir is such a rewarding and fulfilling thing to do. I've often wondered which is more rewarding - singing in the choir or listening to a beautiful choir with it's blend of voices and emotions.
How wonderful that you have found your voice along with the confidence this brings. And now you are sharing your voice to bring joy to others!
Thank you for my angels sweet friend.
moonlake from America on October 03, 2015:
I can't sing never could and never will be able to sing. I did sing to my babies (On The Wings Of A Snow White Dove) they loved my voice no matter what. I don't know why I didn't get the singing voice. My sister sang in a little teenage band she had and she always sounded beautiful. My Dad sang, but not me. I even taped myself once thinking maybe I didn't sound as bad as I thought. I was right I sounded bad.
Enjoyed reading your hub and the information on it.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 03, 2015:
Singing in the car and in the shower are my favorite spots however I do enjoy singing at church and have begun to really enjoy singing in church.
I think, Audrey, I have found my voice and with it my confidence and it is an humbling experience for me if that makes sense to you.
Well said ...thank you for sharing this information so that all of us who have a song in our hearts can let that song be heard.
Angels are on the way to you this morning ps shared G+ tweeted pinned
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on September 29, 2015:
This is all so true, Audrey! I used to sing for friends' weddings (until they all got married--LOL!) and sometimes in church. I was better at slower songs in a lower key--like Amy Grant. I could sing her stuff without straining. :-) Neat hub.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 06, 2015:
Or should I call you Ella...too funny. So glad you are using the beautiful voice the good Lord has given you. Thank you for your generous comments.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 30, 2015:
You are so sweet and caring. Life is offering me a chance to grow at this time. Suffering from a few growing pains...ouch.
Your comment came at the perfect time. Thanks. So much a
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 30, 2015:
Hi Genna. Your welcomed comments are filled with so much wisdom. I, too love Summertime. It's fun too play with the simple melody adding your own feelings and interpretation. Thank you dear hub friend.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 19, 2015:
annart - Thanks for your wonderful comments. Karen Carpenter will always be my favorite female vocalist. What a loss~!
What a joy it is to me to find someone like you who loves to sing and though you're not a pro, sings anyway. Hooray! Very happy to hear that you liked my hub and thanks for leaving your comments. Sing for joy!
Hi AudreyHowitt -
Spoken like the fantastic vocalist and vocal teacher that you are! Thanks so much for stopping by.
I can always count on you for support my friend. Thank you for sharing my feelings on the importance of choosing the right song. It makes all the difference when singing. I appreciate your kind words and for voting up and sharing.
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 19, 2015:
Singing the National Anthem is a real accomplishment! I know a lot of people who would love to have a range like yours. (Including yours truly.) So happy you like the list of songs. Keep singing my friend.
Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 17, 2015:
Thanks for NOT including Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" on the 'easy' list.
I was recently 'letting it rip' whilst painting in a small bathroom - I was not facing the glass around the light but I actually caused it to crack... it scared the life outta me, then I remembered the Ella commercial way back... :)
Love your work and videos - still a long way to go before Hollywood for me!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 16, 2015:
Yes, Karen Carpenter's voice is one-in-a-million! Rich, smooth and easy. You are obviously doing the right things for your voice. Glad to hear that you stay within your range. Thanks so much!
Suzie from Carson City on August 16, 2015:
Take me under your wing? Audrey...not only are you beautiful, smart & sweet......you are very brave!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 15, 2015:
fpherj48 - Your musician daddy has a sense of humor - or should I say had. Not sure if he is still with us. How I would love to take you under my wing and work on freeing that singing voice of yours! Thanks dear lady for being here and for your years of support.
Audrey Howitt from California on August 10, 2015:
Thinking about you and hoping you are doing well!
Audrey Howitt from California on August 10, 2015:
Thinking about you and hoping you are doing well!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 07, 2015:
drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 06, 2015:
Of course! Can I be Louie?
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 05, 2015:
And thanks to you I've started my book...more pages coming. :)
Thanks so much for your amazing comments. Coming from a pro like yourself it means so much. I also love the Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald version of summertime. Wanna do a duet with me?
Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on June 23, 2015:
Our voice is our own internal instrument...choosing the style of song to sing is like choosing to play the violin, piano, guitar...it calls to us from within, and we must be true to who we are. :-) I loved your examples of singing "Summertime" -- one of my favorite songs from Porgy and Bess -- and your expert coaching list on mastering technique and style. Beautiful hub! Voted up and shared.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 23, 2015:
I agree, choosing the right song that suits the singer's voice and singing ability is very important. If you like a song , does not mean you can sing it well too. Some singers are effortless in high notes song, while others can go terribly wrong.
Interesting and helpful information for singers. Thanks and voted up and shared on HP!
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 21, 2015:
Thank you for your wonderful comments. I'm happy to know your granddaughter will be using these singing tips.
Audrey Howitt from California on June 19, 2015:
One of the most important things that a good voice teacher does, in all styles, is to pick the right music --in the right key. I am always transposing pieces for students--a half-step can make all the difference sometimes! Toi, toi, toi !!
Ann Carr from SW England on June 16, 2015:
Lots of great advice here; you're obviously a good teacher. I'm not a singer but I like to sing. I love Karen Carpenter's voice and I don't do a bad job with some of her songs, as long as I don't pick the ones with the higher notes; she had a huge range but I don't!
Superb hub and an enjoyable read.
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 14, 2015:
I love that you included a table of suggested songs. I can really hit the high notes and don't care what people thing so I love the national anthem.
lavenderLove from Philippines on June 08, 2015:
I love that you have a Karen Carpenter's song on your list..
thanks for the article..I can sing..Ive sang in our church before..in weddings and all..and i always believe that knowing your range is the key to showcase you..im a fan of big belter songs..but i don't sing songs like that because i know its not on my vocal capacity
Suzie from Carson City on June 08, 2015:
Hi Audrey......How I LOVE music....and I love to sing and dance...and besides that I love you and your wonderful hubs!
My Dad used to tell me to sing "Far Far Away." It took me a while to GET IT!.....He was a musician so I guess he was right! LOL......UP++
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 08, 2015:
lyoness913 - I sure agree with you! Karaoke singers really need to choose their songs wisely. Thanks wendi.
bravewarrior - I love your comments Sha. Thanks for liking the list of easy songs. We still have a song to write - knee surgery is tomorrow and during recovery I hope to explore some melodies.
tillsontitan - Hi Mary. I sure hope this hub reaches the right people (which is just about everyone who sings.) I love your comments. Fever is a great choice of songs for just about anyone. I agree that Miss Peggy Lee just can't be topped when it comes to vocal color and interpretation. Thanks so much for your generous votes. Take care.
mckbirdbks - Oh, Mike, I am so thankful for my loyal followers like you!
I do write a variety of topics but music is such a passion with me I just can't let go. Thank you for being here and for listening to the videos. Have a marvelous day my friend!
adagio4639 - Thank you for your professional comments and thoughts on The Importance of Choosing the Right Song to Sing. Coming from a pro like yourself I don't need to tell you how much this means to me.
I appreciate your comments on phrasing and pacing. So important. My readers will be getting an extra bonus by hearing this great tip.
"It's the authenticity that comes through that sells the song." Absolutely true! Again, thank you so much for being here.
drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 07, 2015:
Loved every single word, Audrey. Every professional singer and wannabe singer should read your valuable insights and information gained from experience.
The Norah Jones video is delightful but the Fitzgerald/Armstrong is the best! What a duo! What a song! What a treat! Thank you. Voted way UP!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 07, 2015:
What a great tutorial. You should write a book. Oh, wait, you are.....aren't you? LOL
travmaj from australia on June 06, 2015:
This is packed with information all so informative and interesting. I'm no singer but my granddaughter is going to appreciate this article. I'm confident she will be impressed and find it most helpful. Thank you.
Larry Allen Brown from Brattleboro Vermont on June 06, 2015:
Hi Audrey. It isn't often I come on a Hub that really hits it out of the park like this one. I can tell you that I firmly believe in your approach and use the very same concept with my own students. It's worked wonders for me, and it helps students "find" their voice. The song has to fit you for you to be effective with it. When you find a song that fits you like a pair of well faded jeans, you know it. Then, always find others that share that same amount of difference. You develop a style and a sound. Experiment with phrasing and the placing of the syllables ahead of the beat or behind the beat as opposed to right on the beat.
The coach I had in Nashville told me to stop trying to "sing". Tell the story...melodically. It's the authenticity that comes through that sells the song.
mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on June 06, 2015:
Hello Audrey, I always like the way you make it sound like anyone could sing with just a little coaching and forethought. I am listening to your music selections now. Great to see you still sharing all your knowledge.
Mary Craig from New York on June 06, 2015:
Your hubs about music and singing are always so enlightening. I'm far from a professional singer but have sung enough and in enough places to know every word you say is true.
Trying to sing and instead squeaking is certainly of no benefit to anyone! I always loved "Fever". Although no one will ever sound like Peggy Lee, its and easy and sexy song to sing.
Voted all but funny. Hope you're having a great weekend.
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 06, 2015:
Excellent hub, Audrey. Make the song your own. I love the list of songs you posted. They are indeed easy to sing. Love the videos, too. A very soothing way to start the day.
Summer LaSalle from USA on June 05, 2015:
Oh this is good! I wish people would read this before they sing, especially at the local karaoke joint! LOL
Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 05, 2015:
Dear Jeannie...or should I address you as karaoke queen...I'm happy to hear that this hub has brought you closer to fulfilling your rightful dream. Thanks!
adagio4639 - Your comments have made my day...in fact they have made my entire year! I do hope that others will read your expert thoughts on the subject of choosing the right song. It isn't often that I'm privileged enough to hear from someone of your stature and professional background. I am honored.
Using the diaphragmatic area of the body is crucial for proper vocalization. I'm happy to know you are implementing the diaphragm during singing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment on my article. I hope to hear from you again.
Larry Allen Brown from Brattleboro Vermont on June 05, 2015:
This was a GREAT Hub, and you hit all the right notes. As a music teacher and recording artist I can say that everything you touched on was spot-on accurate. Phrasing is really important and trying to sound like another singer that you happen to like, is guaranteed to fail. The idea is to find your own voice. People may hate the sound of Dylans voice, but it's totally unique and nobody sounds quite like him. It's his phrasing that is so quirky, and of course his lyrics are great.
I write 90% of my own songs, and the other 10% are songs that sound similar in style to my own originals. All of the songs that "fit" me are very conversational, so they are phrased similar to the way I speak. I work on my range, but I'm aware of my limits and always put the song I'm doling in a key that is comfortable and allow me to go high or low without difficulty. Comfort is key, and if you feel relaxed you know that you can hit the notes and that confidence comes across to an audience.
I had a coach in Nashville that showed me what the vocal "fry" was and once I got it, I realized how I could push the sound from the diaphragm instead of the throat. That made all the difference in the world and added tone and texture to my sound. The main thing was a found my voice and we became good friends and that's made all the difference.
Great Hub. You were absolutely correct on everything. Find the right songs and that will help you find your voice.
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on June 05, 2015:
Thanks for sharing these tips. I am now one step closer to becoming the karaoke queen I've always wished I could be.