100 of the Best Songs for a Lyrical Dance

Updated on October 4, 2017

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

  1. I'd Rather Be With You — Joshua Radin
  2. Magic — Colbie Calliat
  3. Catch Me — Demi Lovato
  4. Collide (Acoustic) — Howie Day
  5. A Little More of You — Ashley Chambliss
  6. The Only Exception — Paramore
  7. 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

  1. Sober — Kelly Clarkson
  2. All We Are — Matt Nathanson
  3. A Beautiful Mess — Jason Mraz
  4. Dream — Priscilla Ahn
  5. 80. Keep Breathing — Ingrid Michaelson
  6. 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!

Good luck!

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 jemillyfish

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      • profile image

        Harper Larsen 

        9 days ago

        I love dance and I'm trying to get an idea of what song to use in one of my performances. So thanks so so so so so so so much.

      • profile image


        3 months ago

        NOPE, sorry did not help but for others it might work.

      • profile image


        4 months ago

        Didn’t help at all thanks though


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