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100 of the Best Songs for a Lyrical Dance

Emily has been an online writer for over four years. She focuses primarily on contemporary music and dance.

Lyrical Songs Perfect for Dance

What songs are good for lyrical and contemporary dance? Lyrical, or contemporary, dance is one of the most 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 for the whole piece, so 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.

Top 10 Contemporary Lyrical Dance Songs

  1. "Almost Lover" —A Fine Frenzy
  2. "Always Midnight"—Pat Monahan
  3. "A Million Miles Away" —Rihanna
  4. "The Special Two"—Missy Higgins
  5. "Candlelight"—Imogen Heap
  6. "Come Home"—One Republic
  7. "A Lack of Color"—Death Cab for Cutie
  8. "Heartless"—The Fray
  9. "Makeup-Smeared Eyes"—Automatic Love Letter
  10. "Where I Stood"—Missy Higgins

1. "Almost Lover" — A Fine Frenzy

Album: One Cell in the Sea

Release Year: 2007

This song is slow, moving, and passionate. The lyrics speak of unrequited love.

2. "Always Midnight" — Pat Monahan

Album: Last of Seven

Release Year: 2007

This song is a twangy ballad with piano accompaniment.

3. "A Million Miles Away" — Rihanna

Album: A Girl like Me

Release Year: 2006

Rihanna's smokey, 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

Album: The Sound of White

Release Year: 2004

This song has piano accompaniment and a fast tempo that leads into a chorus with drums and a steady pace. This is a song about growing up and fighting for someone you love.

5. "Candlelight" — Imogen Heap

Album: iMegaphone

Release Year: 2002

This song has lots of movement and haunting vocals with a fast pace.

6. "Come Home" — One Republic

Album: Dreaming Out Loud

Release Year: 2007

This song is a love song with piano and violin accompaniment and male vocals.

I just love crafting and shaping sounds. Actually, many of the sounds that I work with start off as organic instruments—guitar, piano, clarinet, etc. But I do love the rigidity of electronic drums.

— Imogen Heap

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

Album: Transatlanticism

Release Year: 2003

This is a slow-moving song with easy-going male vocals and a pleasant guitar background.

8. "Heartless" — The Fray

Album: The Fray

Release Year: 2009

This song is about difficult changes that occur in a friendship. It moves quickly and has male vocals.

9. "Makeup-Smeared Eyes" — Automatic Love Letter

Album: Truth or Dare

Release Year: 2010

This song has female vocals over guitar with lyrics about pretending everything is all right. This song is a little angry.

10. "Where I Stood" — Missy Higgins

Album: On a Clear Night

Release Year: 2007

This song has piano accompaniment with drums and great female vocals, such as, "I don't know who I am without you."

11. "Breathe Me" — Sia

Album: Colour the Small One

Release Year: 2004

This is a melancholic song with great female vocals, such as, "Be my friend, hold me, wrap me up."

Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?

Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts.

So it's fairly simple to cut right through the mess,

And to stop the muscle that makes us confess

— Ingrid Michaelson

12. "Colorblind" — Counting Crows

Album: This Desert Life

Release Year: 1999

This song has a dark, brooding, and moving piano part with rich male vocals.

13. "Corner of Your Heart" — Ingrid Michaelson

Album: Girls and Boys

Release Year: 2006

This song is only piano, chimes, and female vocals. It has an atmospheric quality. The line "I will leave this town just to sleep underneath your bed," is my favorite in this moving song.

14. "Fool" — Marie Digby

Album: Unfold

Release Year: 2008

This song is about the frustration and anger that come from haven fallen in love with someone who was no good. It's got a bluesy, country feel to it.

15. "Barton Hollow" — The Civil Wars

Album: Barton Hollow

Release Year: 2011

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

Album: Careful Confessions

Release Year: 2004

Deep bass and a funky chorus power this song about someone waiting for a call.

17. "The Chain" — Ingrid Michaelson

Album: Everybody

Release Year: 2009

This is a beautiful song with a 3-part harmony in 3/3 time. My favorite lyric from the song is "And you, my love, are gone. So glide away, and so be healed."

18. "Mad World" — Gary Jules

Album: Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets

Release Year: 2001

This is a haunting song with the high, wavering male vocals of Gary Jules and simple piano accompaniment. My favorite lyric is "the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had."

19. "Red Roses" — AJ Rafael

Album: Red Roses

Release Year: 2011

This is an upbeat with 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

Album: To the Sea

Release Year: 2010

In this song, soothing guitar backs up Jack Johnson's smooth voice.

21. "At This Moment" — Michael Buble

Album: Crazy Love

Release Year: 2009

Big band-style music and Michael Buble's deep, classic voice crooning about losing the love of your life make this a great song. This song is in 3/3 time.

22. "Best for Last" — Adele

Album: 19

Release Year: 2008

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

Album: Loud

Release Year: 2010

This is a powerful ballad about lost love with soaring vocals mixed in with more low-key choruses.

24. "Don't You Remember" — Adele

Album: 21

Release Year: 2011

This is a slow-moving song with a nice build-up.

25. "Down (Candle Light Remix)" — Jay Sean

Album: All or Nothing

Release Year: 2009

This song has beautiful male vocals against piano music.

I'm never a believer in going back in anything. You move forward, so that's my whole mentality. You make moves to go forward not back.

— Jay Sean

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, and 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

Album: Simple Times

Release Year: 2008

Joshua Radin has a high, soft voice that sounds beautiful against a lively guitar accompaniment.

27. "Magic" — Colbie Calliat

Album: Coco

Release Year: 2007

This is a classic love ballad with lovely female vocals. It's got an easy pace.

28. "Catch Me" — Demi Lovato

Album: Here We Go Again

Release Year: 2009

My favorite lyric in this song is "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

Album: Stop All the World Now

Release Year: 2003

This is a classic singer-songwriter piece with the distinctive male vocals of Howie Day against soft guitar.

30. "A Little More of You" — Ashley Chambliss

Album: nakedsongs

Release Year: 2002

My favorite line in this song is "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

Album: Brand New Eyes

Release Year: 2009

This is a song that starts sweet and ends with some serious female vocal power.

32. "Cosmic Love" — Florence and the Machine

Album: Lungs

Release Year: 2009

This is a fast-moving song with depth, power, and moving vocals.

When you're heartbroken, you're at your most creative. You have to channel all your energies into something else to not think about it. Contentment is a creativity killer, but don't worry. I'm very capable of making myself discontented.

— Florence Welch

33. "Somersault" — Zero 7

Album: When It Falls

Release Year: 2004

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

Album: Kiss Me Hello

Release Year: 2007

This is a very cute, upbeat song with a beautiful message and a chipper vibe.

35. "Heroes and Thieves" — Vanessa Carlton

Album: Heroes and Thieves

Release Year: 2007

Violins, piano, and drums add a nice accompaniment to Vanessa's clear voice.

36. "Blue Eyes" — Cary Brothers

Album: Garden State

Release Year: 2004

This song is in 3/3 time with simple lyrics and an easy pace.

37. "Just Like Heaven" — Charlotte Martin

Album: Reproductions

Release Year: 2007

This is a melodic piano ballad that moves slowly.

38. "Stranger" — Secondhand Serenade

Album: A Twist In My Story

Release Year: 2008

This song has a power ballad that builds throughout the song.

My goal is to give girls and boys a different idea of expression. It's not always about looking pretty or cute. It's about expressing yourself however that may be, even if that's being silly or goofy or weird.

— Sia (originally a member of Zero 7)

39. "My Beautiful Rescue"— This Providence

Album: This Providence

Release Year: 2006

This song is a sweet singer-songwriter piece about falling head over heels in love.

40. "Ordinary Day" — Vanessa Carlton

Album: Be Not Nobody

Release Year: 2002

A simple, inspiring song about how even the ordinary days are extraordinary.

41. "You and I Both" — Jason Mraz

Album: Live at Java Joe's

Release Year: 2001

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

Album: Battle Studies

Release Year: 2009

This is a steady guitar and drum accompaniment with sweet and soothing vocals from two excellent artists.

43. "Arms" — Christina Perri

Album: Lovestrong

Release Year: 2011

This is a melancholic, but quick-moving song with soaring and clear vocals from Perri.

44. "Back to One" — Brian McKnight

Album: Back at One

Release Year: 1999

This song has smooth male vocals and a catchy beat and chorus.

I don't care how small the game. I want to win.

— Brian McKnight

45. "Can You Tell" — Ra Ra Riot

Album: Beta Love

Release Year: 2013

This song sounds a bit different; it's reminiscent of alternative and indie music and has an upbeat tempo.

46. "Closer" — Joshua Radin

Album: We Were Here

Release Year: 2006

This is a very mellow song with delicate male vocals.

47. "If It Kills Me" — Jason Mraz

Album: Mr. A–Z

Release Year: 2005

This is an upbeat love song from a master of the genre.

48. "Only You" — Joshua Radin

Album: We Were Here

Release Year: 2006

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

Album: 19

Release Year: 2008

This is a beautiful ballad with strong female vocals, piano, and violin. This song has a slower tempo.

50. "To Sir With Love" — Lulu

Album: Together

Release Year: 2002

With beautiful strings and drums, this is a retro song with almost a big-band feel.

I don't care about clothes, I'd rather spend my money on cigarettes and booze.

— Adele

51. "Comptine D'un Autre Ete" — Amelie Soundtrack

Album: Amelie Soundtrack

Release Year: 2001

This is one of the most popular tracks on the Amelie soundtrack. This song has melancholy piano notes that are evocative and moving. It's a strong mix of hope and sorrow.

52. "King of Anything" — Sara Barellies

Album: Kaleidoscope Heart

Release Year: 2010

Handclaps and horns back up Sara as she smoothly sings about an overbearing acquaintance. It's both heartfelt and perky.

53. "Mouthwash" — Kate Nash

Album: Made of Bricks

Release Year: 2007

This is an upbeat, catchy tune that starts with soft piano accompaniment and turns powerful.

54. "Slow Me Down"— Emmy Rossum

Album: Inside Out

Release Year: 2007

This song has a very unique sound to it that is breathy and reminiscent of chimes. The background music is built on layers of voices with no instruments present.

55. "Give Me One Reason" — Tracy Chapman

Album: New Beginning

Release Year: 1995

This song contains Tracy Chapman's beautiful and smooth vocals over a popping bass line.

56. "Collie Man" — Slightly Stoopid

Album: Everything You Need

Release Year: 2003

This song has airy male vocals over a steady and determined drum background. This song is reminiscent of summer.

We all must live our lives always feeling, always thinking the moment has arrived.

— Tracy Chapman

57. "The Scientist" — Coldplay

Album: A Rush of Blood to the Head

Release Year: 2002

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

Album: Ma Fleur

Release Year: 2007

In this song, sweet, melancholy male vocals overlap piano accompaniment with strings entering at the end. In general, it is a slower song.

59. "Last Dance" — Sarah McLachlan

Album: Surfacing

Release Year: 1997

This is a completely instrumental piano and cello duet with a sweet and melancholic feel.

60. "Home Sweet Home" — Carrie Underwood

Album: Play On

Release Year: 2009

This is Carrie's version of the classic Motley Crue song. It still carries some of that hard rock feeling, but is done over in her country style.

61. "Secrets" — One Republic

Album: Waking Up

Release Year: 2009

This is a moving ballad with a very catchy chorus.

If you love large, you've got to hurt large. If you've got a lot of light, you've probably got an equal amount of darkness.

— Sarah McLachlan

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

Album: Ellipse

Release Year: 2009

This is an a cappella remix of the Imogen Heap song that will make your heart race. It's spooky and has engaging rhythmic changes.

63. "Yellow" — Vitamin String Quartet

Album: Vitamin String Quartet Performs Coldplay

Release Year: 2002

This is a beautiful instrumental rendition of Coldplay's sweet and slightly melancholic love song.

64. "Your Ex-Lover's Dead" — Stars

Album: Set Yourself On Fire

Release Year: 2004

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

Album: The Element of Freedom

Release Year: 2009

This is a haunting version of &qu