A few days ago I had a catch up with an old friend of mine who is just as much as a musical lover as I am (maybe even more so). He has even performed in the West End! During our catch we got onto the subject of the audition process, sitting there in the waiting room hearing everyone else that goes in front of you…sing the same songs over and over again.
This got me thinking if we (a couple of amateurs) find this boring and were only hearing about 20 auditions whilst waiting. Imagine how bored the directors and producers get! Keep in mind that audition panels have been listening to actors/singers all day long (or much longer!), and there are many songs they would rather not hear ever done again, even if they are done well.
So I’ve put together a list of what I feel are the top 10 Overdone Female Audition Songs. Before I do put my Top 10 on the screen, let me say this: if you are able to absolutely nail these songs, then by all means sing them! But if you are only okay or good, then please, go for something different…
I will clarify that just because a song is overdone does not necessarily mean that you shouldn’t sing it for an audition. The most important thing is that you find a song that suits your voice, and a song that represents you as a performer. If the song you’ve picked is overdone, but you feel that it is far and away the best piece you can sing, then who am I to say you shouldn’t. They just want to hear you perform, first and foremost. But sometimes a director will tune out if they’ve heard Defying Gravity for the 15th time that day.
So, here it is:
1. ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ from The Wizard Of Oz.
Some noteable octave jumps… Here’s one that you really don’t have much of a chance to settle into, especially if you start from the ‘some … where …’ chorus. It’s a beautiful song, but unless you are Judy Garland herself, leave it alone. Plus, it’s been done and heard a lot … and done and heard badly a lot.
2. ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Miserables.
OK, so it worked for Susan Boyle. But that’s the problem! People have already been singing from Les Miserables for more than 20 years — but once she became an Internet sensation, even more women went into auditions with this ballad. Not a smart choice. Save it for the shower! If you like singing from big, bold musicals, I suggest you look at Frank Wildhorn shows instead. Scarlet Pimpernel is very similar in style to Les Miserables, but no one ever sings from this show, as it was a big flop! My favourite solo from Scarlet Pimpernel is ‘Only Love.’
3. ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ from Hairspray
This song always seems to pop up in auditions, and I can see why. I love this song, I do. It’s fun, it’s bouncy, and it’s just full of happiness. It’s also so done. Everyone and their mother has sung this song. If you plan on performing this it needs to be a unique performance.
4.’ Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from Funny Girl
Glee has been great for promoting the art of musical theatre, but as a result, certain show tunes have become way too popular at auditions. Belters, we all love this song, but there are so many other great tunes that will let you show off your voice! Try either ‘Look What Happened to Mabel’ or ‘Wherever He Ain’t’ from the criminally overlooked Mack & Mabel by Jerry Herman. Both are incredibly fun and sassy numbers. I promise panels don’t hear them often enough!
5. ‘All That Jazz’ from Chicago
Avoid the ‘rediscover’ trap. No sooner than Chicago was revived on Broadway and made into a hit film then everyone ‘rediscovered’ those songs and now those behind the table are probably sick of ‘All That Jazz.’
6. Pretty much anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
OK, let’s get this out of the way. To clarify: even I have two Andrew Lloyd Webber songs in my audition repertoire; ‘There’s Me’ from Starlight Express, and ‘Sunset Boulevard’ from the same-named show. But what we need to realise is that many of his songs have been done to death. People have heard them too much. So unless you’re going to do one that’s a little more obscure (think ‘The Beautiful Game’, ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ or ‘The Woman In White’), look elsewhere.
7. ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen
Ah Frozen. Somehow the hype is still going! Once the hit song ‘Let It Go’ appeared you heard it everywhere…and I mean everywhere. On the radio, in schools, you tubers covering it and now Christmas is just around the corner guess which is the number one film that the kids want to watch (even though it has nothing to do with Christmas). But that’s the thing this is a children’s film, and while there is nothing wrong with performing a Disney song at an audition, just don’t do this one. We’ve all heard that one child screech this song at the top of their lungs. Why would you want to remind the panel of this?
8 and 9. ‘Popular’ and ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked.
I have loved this musical from when I first saw the show in London a few years. Popular is funny within the show, which I love, but it’s a tad annoying outside of it, especially when you hear girls trying to go more nasal in an attempt to sound like Kristin Chenoweth. And how many girls have you heard attempt to Defy Gravity and how many have succeeded? I loved ‘Defying Gravity’ the first time I heard it. And the next hundred times after that. But now? If I don’t hear this song again until I’m sixty, I won’t be too torn up. It’s a bitch to sing, and even if you can hit the high notes, it rarely sounds pleasing to the ears.
10. Anything that you don’t understand what it’s about.
Ok, this is important. You can’t just sing a song in a musical theatre audition – you have to be the character and tell the story of the song. If you want to be in musical theatre, you have to be able to sell and tell the whole situation.
I’ve been heard a few people sing ‘Your Daddy’s Son’ from Ragtime, and absolutely murder it because they don’t understand the content of the song. Even when they’re asked about the song itself, they always give some lame-assed explanation that has nothing to do with the real truth in the song. Please, if you’re going to sing a song from a show, know what it’s about, know who sings it, and know why the song is sung by that character at that point in the show. If you know the purpose, the reason, the ‘why’ of the song, then you will present it far more truthfully…and to be honest, you may find that you shouldn’t actually be doing the song at all, and that you should find something else to learn. Don’t choose a song just because you like it, choose it because you know it intimately.
So, there you go! What are your thoughts? xxx