Updated: Jun 7, 2018
Learning how to choose the right songs for you is one of the most important things you can learn how to do to prepare for Dixie's Got Talent. The right song must be right for YOU:
1) The right song will be gender and age appropriate. If the song is from musical theater, what is the gender and age of the character in the musical? Would you be hired in real life right now to play this character? If the song is a pop song, what gender and age was the original artist when the song was written? The intended "gender of a song" is not always rigid, particularly in the pop world, and words can be changed slightly to accommodate a woman singing a song written for a man, or vice versa, if necessary, but just be aware of tradition and break it in the right way.
Another important question to ask is whether the content is age appropriate in subject and language. You might want to avoid romantic content or swearing if you are under 16 or if you are opposed to such content. If the song is classical in nature, you need to know vocal traditions of the repertoire, like how old a singer generally is when they are allowed to sing such repertoire, and whether the accompaniment is piano or orchestral (full or reduced) and if your voice can project without a microphone over that accompaniment (even though, in current competition settings, you will be using a microphone).
2) The song must be right for your voice: a) your voice type (soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, bass, etc.); b) your vocal timbre (or color/quality: is your voice bright, dark, pretty, raspy?); c) the heft or weight of your voice (how big/loud/dimensional your voice is); d) your technical abilities and vocal range - you must be able to sing the song easily and well now. This is where a knowledgable voice teacher is crucial in helping you make these assessments.
3) The song must be suited for you stylistically (classical, musical theater, pop, country, jazz, R&B, etc.). In other words, it must bring out your most innate vocal strengths and tendencies. If you tend to sing more in your chest voice, you may be more suited to pop or musical theater belting; if your head voice is strong and easy and not too breathy, you may tend to do well with standard legit musical theater or classical and operatic repertoire. Does your voice move easily? Can you sing R&B riffs and runs easily, or coloratura passages quickly? What kinds of songs do you listen to? Do you like to mimic opera singers or country singers or rappers, or do you idolize musical theater singers? Which artists are you drawn to? We tend to mimic the styles and singers easiest for our voices to imitate and sing correctly.
4) The song must be suited for your personality: are you extroverted, confident, strong, and bubbly, not afraid to stare the audience in the eyes? Do you move your body with big, confident gestures when you sing on stage in front of an audience? Do you come alive on stage? Or, are you more reserved, serious, possibly more shy and hesitant, or are you calm, centered, and strong in a still way? You must pick a song that highlights your personality strengths, instead of your weaknesses, a song that makes you come alive on stage, and, finally, a song that makes you feel like you are genuinely being YOU.
5) The right song must be a song YOU LOVE. It must communicate a message you feel strongly about: something you have experienced, something you care passionately about, something you want to tell the world because it means something to you. If the song is not connected to you personally in some way or isn't something you feel strongly about in some way, you may not be a powerful mouthpiece for that song (unless you are a skilled actor or actress). It doesn't matter why you feel strongly about the song or why you LOVE the song, but you must LOVE the song you sing. If you love the song, and you love to sing the song, it will be contagious, and the audience will love the way you sing the song and will be emotionally engaged and moved by your performance and what you, uniquely, have to say.
6) The right song is always a song you sing well. It is important to choose songs that you can sing perfectly - pitch perfect, note perfect, in perfect rhythm, stylistically perfect, etc. - and, preferably, the hardest - or seemingly hardest - songs you sing perfectly.
7) Which brings me to the final tip: a great competition song is one that highlights your vocal strengths in an impressive, exciting, and virtuosic (difficult-sounding) way: either it shows off your range, your "money notes," your ability to express nuances in volume and color, or your dramatic abilities as an actor or actress, and, in doing so, engenders excitement in the audience - one that preferably moves them to stand, clap, and cheer!