Four Tips for Picking the Right Pop-Rock Audition Song

4 tips pop rock audition song

You’ve spent years perfecting your “legit” tunes. Anything Goes? Try anything got it covered. But then you read those dreaded words on the audition notice: pop-rock song. The good news is that finding a pop-rock song is easy. They’re all over the radio after all. It’s picking the RIGHT pop-rock audition song that’s the hard part.

1. Don’t pick your favorite song.

Just because it’s your favorite song, the one that you belt as loud as you can with the windows down on the way to school, doesn’t mean that it’s the best song for YOUR voice or for THIS audition. First and foremost, you want to be aware of what best compliments your specific voice. If you’re not the ultimate power-belter, you’re going to want to take a hard pass on Adele and Bruno Mars. If you don’t have a lot of vocal texture, Ingrid Michaelson and Ben Folds probably shouldn’t be on your list.

Also, be aware of what production you’re auditioning for. For Loserville, for instance, we’re looking for anything that fits into that early 2000s Warped Tour pop-punk feel. Good Charlotte. Paramore. Jimmy Eat World. Blink-182. Alkaline Trio. Fall Out Boy. Green Day. However, if you’re struggling to find something complimentary in that genre (looking at you, ladies), then we just want you to sing the best pop song possible for your voice.

2. Do listen to lots of music.

We’re living in the Spotify era — a gift for all singers who need to pick their next audition song. Find a singer who matches your vocal abilities and then plug them into the Artist Radio. Not only will you be exposed to similar artists who match your style, you may also stumble on a brand-new song from a familiar artist that will make its way onto your “favorite audition songs” list.

3. Learn how to make your own accompaniment tracks.

We know that we've written ad nauseam about using Audacity and audio canceling to create your own accompaniment tracks — but we're going to make another plug for mastering this skill. While many pop songs have professionally recorded karaoke tracks, available for download on iTunes or streaming on YouTube, there’s a strong chance that you’ll stumble on a deep cut that you want to add to your repertoire — the track from a Billboard-charting album that never was released as a single or the indie number that never received any radio play. If you have the MP3, you can create your own accompaniment track, no sheet music or pre-recorded karaoke track necessary. Check out the how-to on YouTube.

4. Musical theater composers? Not necessarily out-of-bounds.

See how we mentioned Green Day up there? Break out your American Idiot songbook. There are tons of pop-rock musicians that have crossed over into musical theatre — and vice versa. Duncan Sheik. John Cameron Mitchell. Sarah Bareilles. Ryan Scott Oliver. Juliana Nash. Joey Contreras. Joe Iconis. Michael Friedman. The pop-rock audition doesn’t mean that you need to completely abandon your musical theatre roots; just be on the lookout for musical theatre songs that sound like they could be on any Top 40 radio station.

ONE MORE QUICK NOTE: Even though you're singing a pop-rock song, don't forget that this is still, first and foremost, an acting audition. Ask yourself: Who am I singing to? (Always pick a specific person; never use "the audience" or "myself." You'll make stronger choices if you're singing to someone that you can clearly visualize in your mind.) What do you want from that person? What tactics do you use in the song to get what you want? Use the same strategies that you'd use for a traditional musical theatre song, but just apply them to the Billboard hits.

Once you've found your perfect pop-rock song, CLICK HERE to audition for NTSA!

Posted on Nov 06, 2017 in Auditions  

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