Audition Guides

Below you will find some tools to help you in choosing songs for auditions including a new chapter in Excavating the Song. Also below are the first two chapters of Joanna Merlin’s book–Auditioning: An Actor Friendly Guide.

See Creating the Perfect Audition Book for lots of information.

A Guide to Choosing Audition Songs from Excavating the Song.

Auditioning-An Actor Friendly guide Joanna Merlin

Choosing Pop/Rock songs for auditions

    In increasingly greater situations these days, people would rather hear Pop/Rock songs rather than Musical Theatre songs. Everything from Hair to Les Miserables to Next to Normal to Rock of Ages to The Lion King to All Shook Up, Pop/Rock songs are being asked for.

Here are some qualities that make a good Pop/Rock audition song:

  1. 1. A good Pop/Rock song is melodic. If the song is pleasant to sing and recognizable without accompaniment, it is probably a good choice. Don’t choose a song with a limited pitch range. You want a song that can show off your voice.

  2. 2. A good Pop/Rock song should be well-known or at least somewhat well know. It is wise to choose a song that was released as a single and charted fairly highly.

  3. 3. A good Pop/Rock song should work with piano accompaniment only. Don’t choose songs whose best attribute is its groove or is primarily rhythmic. Look instead for songs with a strong harmony.

  4. 4.A good Pop/Rock song has real Rock energy with a strong back-beat. The drums should be playing for most of the song.

  5. 5. A good Pop/Rock song is better if it is more positive than negative.

    You will need several Pop/Rock songs in your book. These include at least one uptempo song from the 50s or 60s with a fun Rock or Motown groove. You will also need an uptempo and a ballad from the 80s to today. It’s not a bad idea to look for piano-based songs by Billy Joel, Elton John, Carley Simon and Ben Folds. Guitar based songs can work as well if they are strong melodically and harmonically. The Beatles songs, although often guitar-based are wonderful because they are well-crafted and melodic with strong, interesting harmonies.

    Here is a short list of the artists that have a discography of great choices for auditions. Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Bonny Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Rick Springfield, Melissa Ethridge, Phil Collins, Queen, Donna Summer, Sheena Easton, Janis Joplin, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Kelly Clarkson, Diane Warwick, Tina Turner, Styx, Journey, Christopher Cross, Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Kenny Loggins and Michael Jackson.

    In choosing a Country song, many of the same guidelines apply. Choose something with a good melody, something well-known and something that will sound good with a piano. Many of the Country songs of the last 15 years or so have much more in common with Pop/Rock songs. Find something that has a real Country style. Don’t neglect the songs from the early days of Country music.