100 of the Best Songs for a Lyrical Dance
What Songs for Lyrical and Contemporary Dance?
Lyrical, or contemporary, dance is one of the most current and popular styles of dance. Whether you're choreographing a quick combination for class or you're putting together your next competition piece, the song can set the mood of the whole piece.
So you should choose your song wisely! To help out, here are 100 of my favorite songs, arranged by mood. Keep in mind that lyrical dances are emotional and expressive. Let the melody and the lyrics inspire your choreography and dance moves.
1. A Fine Frenzy — Almost Lover
Slow, moving, and passionate song about unrequited love. Female vocals.
2. Always Midnight — Pat Monahan
Twangy ballad with piano accompaniment. Male vocals.
3. A Million Miles Away — Rihanna
Rihanna's smoky, amber vocals move over piano accompaniment in this song about lovers growing apart. This song has a faster tempo.
4. The Special Two — Missy Higgins
Piano accompaniment and a fast tempo that leads into a chorus with drums and a steady pace. A song about growing up and fighting for someone you love.
5. Candlelight — Imogen Heap
This song has lots of movement and haunting vocals with a fast pace.
6. Come Home — One Republic
A love song with piano and violin accompaniment and male vocals.
Are Lyrical and Contemporary Dance the Same Thing?
No. Contemporary dance dates back to the 1950s, when avant garde choreographers like Merce Cunningham, Isadora Duncan, and Ruth St. Denis were making pieces that broke away from the strict rules of ballet. Dancers didn't always face the audience and the moves weren't as strictly defined as they are in ballet.
Lyrical dance is a competition-style form that developed out of ballet and contemporary dance. It is used for competition pieces, to display both physical ability and an emotional element as well. They are usually slow and fluid, with the dancer flowing seamlessly from one move to another, holding finishing steps as long as possible. Leaps are exceptionally high and soaring.
Some notable dancers and choreographers in the lyrical dance world include Suzi Taylor, Tracie Stanfield, and Brian Friedman.
7. A Lack of Color — Death Cab for Cutie
Slow-moving song with easy-going male vocals and a pleasant guitar background.
8. Heartless — The Fray
This song about changes in friendship moves quickly and has drums and male vocals.
9. Makeup-Smeared Eyes — Automatic Love Letter
Female vocals over guitar with lyrics about pretending everything is all right. This song is a little angry.
10. Where I Stood — Missy Higgins
Piano accompaniment with drums and female vocals: "I don't know who I am without you."
11. Breathe Me — Sia
Melancholy song with female vocals, "Be my friend, hold me, wrap me up."
Top 7 Love Songs for Lyrical and Contemporary Dance
- I'd Rather Be With You — Joshua Radin
- Magic — Colbie Calliat
- Catch Me — Demi Lovato
- Collide (Acoustic) — Howie Day
- A Little More of You — Ashley Chambliss
- The Only Exception — Paramore
- Cosmic Love — Florence and the Machine
12. Colorblind — Counting Crows
This song has a dark, brooding, and moving piano part with rich male vocals.
13. Corner of Your Heart — Ingrid Michaelson
This song is only piano, chimes, and female vocals. It has an atmospheric quality, "I will leave this town just to sleep underneath your bed."
14. Fool — Marie Digby
This song is about the frustration and anger that come from falling in love with someone who was no good. It's got a bluesy, country feel to it, and a lot of lyrics, drums, and guitar.
15. Barton Hollow — The Civil Wars
Beautiful harmonies and bluesy notes make this song a powerful ballad. This has a definite bluegrass and country twang.
16. Come Round Soon — Sara Bareilles
Deep bass and a funky chorus powers this song about someone waiting for a call.
17. The Chain — Ingrid Michaelson
A beautiful song with 3-part harmony and 3/3 time, "And you my love are gone. So glide away and so be healed."
Lyrical dances are emotional and expressive. Let the melody and the lyrics inspire your choreography and dance moves.
18. Mad World — Gary Jules
A haunting song with the high, wavering male vocals of Gary Jules and simple piano accompaniment, "the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had."
19. Red Roses — AJ Rafael
Upbeat, fun piano and drums in a quick-moving song about trying to get someone off your mind. It's catchy!
20. Anything but the Truth — Jack Johnson
Soothing guitar backs up Jack Johnson's smooth voice.
21. At This Moment — Michael Buble
Big band-style music and Michael Buble's deep, classic voice crooning about losing the love of your life. This song is in 3/3 time.
22. Best for Last — Adele
Adele blows it out of the water with her strong, jazzy voice over bass guitar. This is a fast-moving song.
23. California King Bed — Rihanna
This is a powerful ballad about lost love with soaring vocals mixed in with more low-key choruses.
24. Don't You Remember — Adele
A slow-moving song with a nice build-up.
25. Down (Candle Light Remix) — Jay Sean
Beautiful male vocals against piano music.
What Makes a Song Great for Lyrical Dance?
Songs with lyrics make the best music for lyrical dance. The lyrics themselves often serve as inspiration for the choreographer and the dancers' expressive movements. Songs that are emotional—about love, yearning, sadness, loneliness, joy—are the best, but they can come from any genre, including pop, rock, jazz, soul, blues, hip hop, or world music.
26. I'd Rather Be With You — Joshua Radin
Joshua Radin has a high, soft voice that sounds beautiful against a lively guitar accompaniment.
27. Magic — Colbie Calliat
This is a classic love ballad with lovely female vocals. It's got an easy pace.
28. Catch Me — Demi Lovato
"Before I fall too fast, kiss me quick, but make it last." This is a breathy, sweet song with soft accompaniment and prominent vocals. It has a powerful ending.
29. Collide (Acoustic) — Howie Day
A classic singer-songwriter piece with the distinctive male vocals of Howie Day against soft guitar.
30. A Little More of You — Ashley Chambliss
"All I need is a little more of you." This song is easy-paced with female vocals and piano accompaniment.
31. The Only Exception — Paramore
This is a song that starts sweet and ends with some serious female vocal power.
32. Cosmic Love — Florence and the Machine
This is a fast-moving song with depth, power, and moving vocals.
33. Somersault — Zero 7
With bluesy tones, female vocals, and an easy-going pace, this song lets you settle into it before moving you with deceptively simple note patterns.
34. Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes — Kristin Andreassen
A very cute, upbeat song with a beautiful message and a chipper vibe.
35. Heroes and Thieves — Vanessa Carlton
Violins, piano, and drums add a nice accompaniment to Vanessa's clear voice.
36. Blue Eyes — Cary Brothers
This song is in 3/3 time with simple lyrics and an easy pace.
37. Just Like Heaven — Charlotte Martin
Melodic piano ballad that moves.
38. Stranger — Secondhand Serenade
Power ballad that builds throughout the song. Male vocals.
39. My Beautiful Rescue—This Providence
A sweet singer-songwriter piece about falling head over heels in love. Very cute.
40. Ordinary Day — Vanessa Carlton
A simple, inspiring song about how even the ordinary days are extraordinary.
41. You and I Both — Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz knows his way around a love song. This song is upbeat and fun.
42. Half of My Heart — John Mayer ft. Taylor Swift
A steady guitar and drum accompaniment with sweet and soothing vocals from two excellent artists.
43. Arms — Christina Perri
A melancholy but quick-moving song with soaring and clear vocals from Perri.
44. Back to One — Brian McKnight
Smooth male vocals and a catchy beat and chorus.
45. Can You Tell — Ra Ra Riot
This song sounds a bit different; it's reminiscent of alternative and indie music and has an upbeat tempo.
46. Closer — Joshua Radin
Very mellow song with delicate male vocals.
47. If It Kills Me — Jason Mraz
Upbeat love song from a master of the genre.
48. Only You — Joshua Radin
This song has a funky beat that pops. The vocal track is also layered, which sounds really nice.
49. Make You Feel My Love — Adele
A beautiful ballad with strong female vocals, piano, and violin. This song has a slower tempo.
50. To Sir With Love — Lulu
A retro song with almost a big-band feel, with strings and drums.
Lyrical dance pieces are unpredictable, especially when compared to ballet or jazz dance.
51. Comtine D'un Autre Ete — Amelie Soundtrack
One of the most popular tracks on the Amelie soundtrack, this song has melancholy piano notes that are evocative and moving, mixing hope and sorrow.
52. King of Anything — Sara Barellies
Handclaps and horns back up Sara as she smoothly sings about an overbearing acquaintance. It's both heartfelt and perky.
53. Mouthwash — Kate Nash
Upbeat, catchy tune that starts with piano accompaniment and turns powerful.
54. Slow Me Down — Emmy Rossum
This song has a very unique sound to it that is breathy and reminiscent of chimes. The background music is only layered voices.
55. Give Me One Reason — Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman's beautiful and smooth vocals over a popping bass line.
56. Collie Man — Slightly Stoopid
Airy male vocals over a steady and determined drum background. This song is reminiscent of summer.
57. The Scientist — Coldplay
This is an iconic Coldplay song with Chris Martin's signature falsetto and a slow-burn piano accompaniment.
58. To Build A Home — The Cinematic Orchestra
Sweet, melancholy male vocals over piano accompaniment with strings entering at the end. In general, it is a slower song.
59. Last Dance — Sarah McLachlan
A completely instrumental piano and cello duet with a sweet and melancholy feel.
60. Home Sweet Home — Carrie Underwood
Carrie's version of the Motley Crue song. It still carries some of that hard rock feeling, but is done over in her country style.
61. Secrets — One Republic
A moving ballad with a very catchy chorus.
What Do Lyrical Dance Moves Look Like?
Lyrical dance isn't named for the lyrics of the song, but rather for another meaning of the word "lyrical": having a poetic, expressive quality; musical; characterized by or expressing spontaneous, direct feeling; expressing deep personal emotions or observation; highly rhapsodic or enthusiastic.
A lyrical dance piece combines highly technical and pedestrian moves. It might not be graceful, or it might be. Lyrical dance pieces are unpredictable, especially when compared to ballet or jazz dance.
Ballet techniques are at the core of this dance style, as there is an emphasis on proper body placement and alignment, but lyrical choreography will also introduce deliberately naturalistic moves, like walking, with the more challenging movements.
62. Aha! — Imogen Heap
This is an a cappella remix of the Imogen Heap song that will make your heart race. It's spooky and has engaging rhythm changes.
63. Yellow — Vitamin String Quartet
A beautiful instrumental rendition of Coldplay's sweet and slightly melancholy love song.
64. Your Ex-Lover's Dead — Stars
Harmonica, cello, drums, and violin start out this song with Stars' signature storytelling and rhythm.
65. Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down — Alicia Keyes
This is a haunting version of Empire State of Mind with echoey vocals that belie the lyrics, which say "New York - these streets will make you feel brand new, these lights will inspire you."
66. Big Jet Plane — Angus & Julia Stone
With an easy vibe and a steadily building chorus, this song will have the audience bopping their heads along.
67. Cider House Rules Theme — Cider House Rules Soundtrack
A soaring instrumental piece.
68. Beyond Words — 10th Avenue North
Medium or maybe slightly fast-paced love song with guitar and male vocals.
Inspiring Songs for Lyrical and Contemporary Dance
- Sober — Kelly Clarkson
- All We Are — Matt Nathanson
- A Beautiful Mess — Jason Mraz
- Dream — Priscilla Ahn
- 80. Keep Breathing — Ingrid Michaelson
- 81. Free Fallin' — John Mayer
69. Lamentation — Lea Andreone
Opening words of this song: "Oh God we're here, and goodbye chokes on my tears." The title gives it away — this is certainly a sadder song with serious passion.
70. Rock Your Soul — Elisa
There's a lot of movement in this song in the piano accompaniment that leads into a full band. Soaring female vocals.
71. Black Balloon — Goo Goo Dolls
A love ballad with passionate male vocals.
72. Dreams are More Precious — Enya
A soothing song with a full, steady sound.
73. Unwinding Cable Car — Anberlin
This song has a fast pace and a lot of energy in it. Male vocals.
74. Superhuman — Hobbie Stuart (Cover)
A beautiful version of Superhuman, with piano accompaniment and incredible vocals.
75. Bad Romance — Vitamin String Quartet
Lady Gaga's anthem done over in instruments—fast paced, fun, and desperate.
76. Sober — Kelly Clarkson
A power ballad of deep loss.
77. All We Are — Matt Nathanson
A song with an easy pace and soothing melody, though the lyrics are sad.
78. A Beautiful Mess — Jason Mraz
This song has a slow, rocking and melodic musical accompaniment that is a cross between a waltz and big band music.
79. Dream — Priscilla Ahn
Beautiful, layered female vocals with a peaceful guitar and harmonica accompaniment.
80. Keep Breathing — Ingrid Michaelson
This song has a lovely crescendo of female vocals and accompaniment with a full sound.
81. Free Fallin' — John Mayer
John Mayer's rendition of Tom Petty's classic song expressing the uncertainty that always exists in relationships. The chorus is legendary.
82. Say — John Mayer
John's smooth vocals over an upbeat guitar accompaniment that leads into drums.
83. Beautiful — India Arie
This song uses percussion instruments to add an interesting beat to this song with lovely female vocals.
84. Ok, It's Alright With Me — Eric Hutchinson
An upbeat and bright piano-based song.
85. The Cave — Mumford and Sons
A soaring ballad of the human heart, this song has roots in country and bluegrass music and will lift the spirits of everyone in the audience.
86. Flying High — Jem
Breathy female vocals that soar over a patient guitar accompaniment.
87. I Believe — Blessid Union of Souls
This is a classic piano ballad that is sure to pull on heartstrings: "I believe that love is the answer."
88. Boston — Augustana
Piano accompaniment with a lilt and lovely male vocals.
89. Stop & Stare — One Republic
Catchy and moving, this song has beautiful male vocals and lyrics.
90. The Time of My Life — David Cook
A fast-paced song dedicated to living a life as full as possible.
91. Worn Me Down — Rachael Yamagata
This is a passionate song that builds up to a beautiful climax. Rachel's voice is understated but powerful.
92. Without You — AJ Rafael
Fast-paced pop song with male vocals.
93. At Last — Etta James
One of the most famous jazz songs of all time, Etta James has a voice that is unforgettable. The song takes its time before settling into a laid-back beat.
94. Fly Away — Corrine May
A slow and sad piece with piano accompaniment and female vocals.
95. A New Day Has Come — Celine Dion
A pretty, fast-paced song about hope.
96. Better Days — The Goo Goo Dolls
A smoldering song with simple instrumental accompaniment and a powerful chorus.
97. Belief — Gavin Degraw
Gavin's raw voice goes well over a full band in this moving song.
98. Stand By Me — Ben E. King
Another iconic song about the power of love and friendship. Beautiful male vocals.
99. Don't Get Lost in the Crowd — Ashley Ballard
Old school rhythm that is reminiscent of the 80s or 90s along with chimes that give a whimsical impression.
100. You've Got A Friend — Carole King
A very sweet song about friendship with a steady rhythm and well-known lyrics.
YouTube: Another Place to Find Great Songs
There it is! There is a wide variety of fast and slow songs within the list, so don't be afraid to try something new. Another way to find songs for lyrical dance is by looking for covers.
I really like covers of many R&B songs. A lot of them are really beautiful. You can start finding songs by looking around the well-known YouTube artists. I have a couple YouTube artists on my list such as Hobbie Stuart, AJ Rafael, Marie Digby . . . YouTube is a great resource!
© 2011 jemillyfish