Coldplay go through 'American Idol' process to choose songs
How to Choose Songs for American Idol Auditions
American Idol is one of the longest-running reality show competitions for singers, and auditioning for the show is incredibly exciting. In order to have a successful audition, you’ll need to pick a song that shows you off in the best possible light. Lucky for you, there are a million songs out there to choose from, and this wikiHow will provide some steps on how to choose the best song for your American Idol audition.
Picking a Song for Your Voice
Watch the show.You can’t audition for American Idol without at least being a little familiar with the show. Look at old auditions online and check out what people sang. Pay especially close attention to what the successful singers sang. If they got through to the next round, they probably made a good song choice.
- Try singing "At Last" by Etta James, like Kelly Clarkson did in her American Idol audition.
- If you're a fan of Katharine McPhee, sing "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday, like she did in her first audition.
Listen to music.In order to pick a song for your audition, you first have to be aware of all the songs there are to choose from. Go for a long walk with your iPod and try to listen to as many of your favorite songs as you can. Keep the radio on in the car when you’re on the road. Cram in as much music as possible and chances are that you’ll hear something that inspires you.
- "Kiss From a Rose" by Seal is a great choice for an audition song. It's often sung in the group round, so it's not frequently used for initial auditions.
- Be like past winner Jordin Sparks and sing "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion.
Be aware of your singing range.All singers have a different range of notes they are able to hit comfortably – and some they are able to hit not so comfortably. For your audition song, pick something that sits comfortably within your vocal range.You’ll know it fits comfortably because you won’t have to strain to hit any of the notes and your voice will sound magical.
- To see if you sound good singing the song, try singing it out loud, over and over. Practice it at home, and then when you’re ready, bust it out at karaoke.
- If you find a song you like, but it’s not in your range, take it to a music teacher and ask them to help you adjust the key.
Pick a song that showcases who you are.Think about the character you want to be cast as on the show. Do you want to be the underdog? The diva? The ingénue? The character you pick should be close to who you are in real life.When you know how you want to be seen, pick a song that corresponds with your character. If you want to be seen as the underdog, choose an uplifting power ballad. If you want to be the diva, pick something by Whitney Houston or Alicia Keys.
- For a great Whitney Houston song, try “I Have Nothing.”
- For great Alicia Keys songs, try “No One” or “Fallin” or “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Choose a song that proves your strengths.Don’t pick something too hard if there’s a chance you might mess it up. Don’t pick something too easy, because that’s not very impressive.If you are really good at hitting high notes, pick a song with a lot of high notes. If you are a confident belter, choose a song that allows you to belt.
- If you’re a great belter, try “I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls.
- Be aware of your weaknesses too. If you know that your vibrato is not that great, don’t pick a song that will force you to display that. Showcase your strengths and make your weaknesses invisible.
Picking a Song for Your Audience
Pick a song that means something to you.The most important thing to consider when picking a song is to choose something you connect with. If you don’t care about the song you’re singing, your audience won’t care either and your audition will be lackluster. Choose something that is emotionally resonant with you and you won’t be able to stop your own emotion from leaking out when you perform it.
- "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt is a great option if you're looking for an emotional ballad.
- Also try, "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban or "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders.
Pick something people know.Part of the charm of American Idol is the people watching at home get to root for their favorite singers. If you want them to root for you, you need to help them connect with you. The easiest way to do this is to pick a song that people know and love. It doesn’t have to be the most popular song, but it shouldn’t be something that people have never heard before.
- You also want to shy away from picking something that is too popular as far as auditions go. If ten people have already sung a song in the auditions before, people who watch the show repeatedly will remember that and compare you to them. Google around to see if your song has been sung on the show before.
- Great options for this are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz or “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Avoid choosing a song in a genre you’re not familiar with.It’s fine to want to challenge yourself, but choosing a song in a weird genre can only set you up for failure. You’ll be competing against people who have been singing in that genre for their entire lives, plus, you won’t be showcasing who you really are.If you’re a pop singer, stick with pop. If you’re really good at R&B, do that. Focus on what you can do, not what you should do.
- For great R&B songs, try “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder or “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green.
- For a great pop option, try “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly.
- For a good country song, consider something from past winner Carrie Underwood’s catalog, or Garth Brooks if you’re going for a slightly different vibe.
Asking for Help
Ask your vocal teacher.If you’re currently taking vocal lessons, ask your vocal teacher for help picking a song. They’re a professional musician and they’ve likely been to a lot of auditions themselves, so they know what to expect. They also know your voice incredibly well, and they’ll know how to set you up for the best possible American Idol audition.
- If there’s a vocal recital coming up, ask if you can perform your audition song choice. The more practice you have performing your song in front of others, the better.
Ask your friends.Get a group of your most musical friends together and perform some of the songs you’re considering picking. Ask them which ones they like best and why. You can also ask them to record you singing, so you can show the tapes to other people to ask them as well.
- If you and your friends have a special song, consider singing that. That way, when you sing, you'll be reminded of your friends, which will make your performance more personal.
Ask the internet.If you’re feeling confident and you have the time, tape a recording of you singing your song choices and post the video online. Ask people to vote or choose and then take their picks into consideration. You’re likely to get more unbiased opinions on your work from strangers.
- If you do post your work online, know that you might not receive only good feedback. This is good practice for when you’re actually being judged on the show. When you receive that feedback, take it and apply it to your audition.
Can I write my own songs?
- You only get thirty seconds to make an impression, so make sure you pick a song that doesn’t take a while to build.
- Be yourself and have fun with it! Auditioning for American Idol is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so enjoy it.
- While most people sing a cappella, a piano accompanist is sometimes used. Consider which is better for you personally before you make your song selection. This way, if you’re singing a cappella, you can practice it that way.
Video: Choosing Songs For Competitions Shows with Loren Lott from American Idol
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