Song work - I'm pretty lost here.

Posted in Category Singing Basics
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    Paw Pedersen 4 years ago

    I finally worked up the courage, to start learning how to sing, and this site seems pretty amazing, i have some questions though.


    The 30-day lessons, only really touches upon techniques and excersises, which is brilliant, but i wanna find a song to kinda practice on the side, and use said techniques, but i have no clue what would be a good song for me, as i have 0 knowledge about vocal range and stuff. 
    any tips on how to find it, and how to find a song thats suitable?

    My end goal is to sing a layman version of some Phantom of the opera songs, as it is that musical that really pushed me over the edge to start learning.. but im fully aware that its probably not a goal i'll achieve in 30 days, or even a year or whatever, just if you wanted some pointers.

    Have a nice day everyone, and sorry if it was a stupid question.

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    Tina Thai 4 years ago

    Hello Paw,

    In the same boat here.  So glad you asked as I have been trying to work up the courage to post the same question! 

    I love the warms ups and the content provided.  I have 0 music background and have a few songs that I would love to sing.  I'd like some feedback if they are suitable for beginners and also how to find the right key for myself.  My voice definitely is more on the high side as I sound terrible singing low notes.  I don't feel comfortable below A5! 

    Some songs I would love to learn to sing:

    Someone to watch over me (Ella Fitzgerald)

    Supermarket flowers (Ed Sheeran)

    You say (Lauren Daigle)

    Which one is best for a beginner and how do I find the right key for myself?


    Thanks a million!


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    Paw Pedersen 4 years ago

    Hey Tina, glad i could, well not help, as we're both looking for advice, but you know what i mean..


    And yeah, i would kinda like to work on:

    Hallelujah (The rufus wainwright version)

    And Till' i hear you sing from Love never dies, of course not the crazy endning part, but the first couple of verses, as when i tried to sing it earlier, it seemed like i hit it pretty well pitch wise.

    If at all possible at suitable for a beginner. :)

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    Camille van Niekerk 4 years ago

    Great questions, Paw and Tina! Please see below for an article on these topics (with a guide to find your range and easy beginner songs):

    How to choose a good song for your voice: considering range, registration, and style

    Camille van Niekerk


    A few weeks ago, I came across this video of Alicia Keys and Billie Eilish performing “Ocean Eyes”: Many commenters have already noted that Alicia does not sound her best on this song. But why? Alicia Keys is a professional vocalist - can’t she sing anything? 


    That brings me to the topic of this post: how to choose a good song for your voice. Alicia Keys is incredible within her style, just as Billie is incredible within hers. You truly can’t compare them, nor should you ever have to! They have unique voices with different strengths, and they’ve both found their wheelhouse. 


    What about you? Do you know which songs and styles are a good fit for your voice? Read on for some tips to help you on the journey of finding out!


    The easy way


    If you’re a true beginner, here’s the easy way:


    1. Choose a song you like.
    2. Sing along with the original artist to learn the melody. 
    3. Check to make sure you’re singing the correct pitches with Smule (or another karaoke app with pitch analysis). 
    4. Record yourself and listen back. 


    If you were able to match the pitch, general tone and style of the original, that song is a good fit for you! You can increase your chances of picking a good song easily by choosing a singer whose voice type (soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor, baritone or bass) is similar to yours. Those classifications aren’t used as strictly in pop and contemporary music, but you should still be able to find a singer’s voice type online and see if it matches your own! If you don’t know your range or voice type, keep on reading.


    Determine your vocal range


    First, we’re looking for your lowest comfortable note and your highest comfortable note. You can determine your range at or You can also use the range function on the SingSharp app:


    Read more about determining your range here:


    Where’s the break? 


    In addition to your current “singable” range, take note of where your passaggio is: that’s the pitch or range in which your voice transitions or “hands over” from one register to the next. For most singers, this will present itself as a “crack”, “yodel”, or “break”. Locating your passaggio will help you realistically choose songs based on your desired tone and registration. 


    For example, the melody of “Shallow” (A Star is Born) contains a low G3 and a high D5. This may be within your overall range, but that’s not the only consideration. You also need to know how those pitches sound (in the original), and whether you can recreate a similar sound. Lady Gaga is singing that D5 with a strong “mixed” coordination, so it sounds more like chest voice. Many singers can easily sing a D5, but they may only be comfortable singing that pitch in head voice, which naturally has a lighter, brighter tone than chest or mixed voice. 


    I can’t belt that high note. Am I doomed?


    A song requiring a high belt (in either chest or mixed voice) is very challenging, and beginning singers can easily hurt themselves trying to push for those high notes. If you’re in this boat, you have a few options:


    1. Search for a lower karaoke track (as long as you can hit the low notes in the new, lower key)
    2. Use different registration than the original (for example, use head voice instead of belting and make it a stylistic choice)
    3. Put this song on the shelf (for now) and choose an easier one!


    Once you’ve developed mixed coordination, you won’t need to work around your passaggio quite as much. But for a beginning singer, it’s stressful to constantly be crossing that register break, and you can easily get discouraged when the original artist sounds a certain way and you can’t yet achieve that same sound. 


    If you want to avoid shifting between registers until you’ve built your “mixed” coordination, choose songs with a smaller range so you can sing the entire melody within one vocal register. See below for a list of recommended songs!


    Songs with a range of approximately one octave


    Note: a few songs on this list technically span a ninth (or an octave plus one whole-step), but they will still be doable for most beginning singers. Change the key as needed to suit your voice by looking for an existing track on YouTube (search “higher”, “lower”, “male key”, etc) or purchasing a customized karaoke track at


    “Ain’t no sunshine” (Bill Withers)

    “All Star” (Smash Mouth)

    “All the small things” (Blink 182)

    “Angel from Montgomery” (Bonnie Raitt)

    “Bad Moon Rising” (Credence Clearwater Revival)

    “Bubbly” (Colbie Caillat)

    “Chasing Cars” (Snow Patrol)

    “Da Doo Run Run” (The Crystals)

    “Drops of Jupiter” (Train)

    “Eight Days a Week” (The Beatles)

    “Fields of Gold” (Sting)

    “Girls just wanna have fun” (Greg Laswell cover, originally by Cyndi Lauper)

    “Happy” (Pharrell Williams)

    “Heart of Gold” (Neil Young)

    “Hey Jude” (The Beatles)

    “Hotel California” (Eagles)

    “I can see clearly now” (Johnny Nash)

    “I guess I just feel like” (John Mayer)

    “I love rock n roll” (Joan Jett)

    “I will follow you into the dark” (Death Cab for Cutie)

    “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz)

    “I’ve just seen a face” (The Beatles)

    “If I ever leave this world alive” (Flogging Molly)

    “Let Her Go” (Passenger)

    “Let it go” (James Bay)

    “Losing my religion” (R.E.M.)

    “Love yourself” (Justin Bieber)

    “Make you feel my love” (Bob Dylan)

    “Mamma Mia” (ABBA)

    “Mr. Brightside” (The Killers)

    “Riptide” (Vance Joy)

    “Say my name” (Destiny’s Child)

    “Shotgun” (George Ezra)

    “Should I stay or should I go” (The Clash)

    “Sittin on the dock of the bay” (Otis Redding)

    “Take it on the run” (REO Speedwagon)

    “Take me home, country roads” (John Denver)

    “The Middle” (Jimmy Eat World)

    “This is the life” (Amy Macdonald)

    “Wagon Wheel” (Darius Rucker)

    “Walk the line” (Johnny Cash)

    “Wind of Change” (Scorpions)

    “You belong to me” (Carla Bruni)

    “You know I’m no good” (Amy Winehouse)

    “Your heart is as black as night” (Melodie Gardot)


    For song suggestions within your range, visit


    Establish a few “tonal models”


    Which artists can you sing along with most easily? Those singers can serve as tonal models for you, as you develop your tone and style. You may struggle to think of singers you sound like - but keep that question in mind as you listen to different artists, and take note of those that feel like a more natural fit than others! Listen for singers with (1) a similar range to yours and (2) a tone quality that’s easy for you to recreate. Look through their song lists when searching for new songs to learn, and explore similar artists on Spotify/Pandora. 


    Some love for low voices


    Many beginning singers struggle with the high notes they hear from singers like Adam Levine, Ariana Grande, and Brendon Urie. These singers, in addition to having years of training and well-developed mixed coordination, have naturally higher ranges! See below for some fantastic lower-voiced singers, if you are an alto, baritone, or bass. 


    Lower-voiced female singers:


    Allison Moyet

    Amy Winehouse

    Annie Lennox

    Diana Krall

    Dua Lipa

    Etta James

    Fiona Apple

    Grace Jones

    Helen Shapiro

    Janis Joplin

    Joan Jett

    Karen Carpenter

    Lalah Hathaway

    Lana Del Rey

    Miley Cyrus

    Nina Simone

    Peggy Lee


    Shania Twain

    Stevie Nicks

    Toni Braxton

    Tracy Chapman 

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    Camille van Niekerk 4 years ago

    Part 2 of the above article:

    Lower-voiced male singers:


    Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

    Barry White


    Bing Crosby

    Bruce Springsteen

    Cat Stevens

    Darius Rucker

    David Bowie

    Dean Martin

    Eddie Vedder

    Elvis Presley

    Frank Sinatra

    George Ezra

    James Blake

    John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

    John Legend

    John Lennon

    John Mayer

    Johnny Cash

    Luther Vandross

    Matt Berninger (The National)

    Michael Buble’

    Mick Jagger

    Randy Travis

    Ringo Starr

    Serj Tankian


    And finally, if you’re a higher-voiced female singer who doesn’t belt, see below for some sopranos who use a lot of head voice in their sound:


    Alison Krauss



    Billie Eilish



    Blossom Dearie

    Ellie Goulding

    Ingrid Michaelson

    Joan Baez

    Kate Bush

    Lily Allen

    Regina Spektor

    Tori Amos


    Finding your “wheelhouse” takes time and a lot of experimentation! Listen to music from different genres and eras, and find the styles that help you sound and feel your best when you sing.


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    Tina Thai 4 years ago

    Thanks so much Camille for such a thorough response! I love you the content you have created that works so well, especially for the shy and the newbs ;)

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    Camille van Niekerk 4 years ago

    My pleasure, Tina! It's a very brave thing to work on your voice and sing in front of others. Best of luck to you!

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    Steffen Sandermann 4 years ago

    Hi Camille, this is a great response here, very encouraging, thank you. I just think I also would add Louis Armstrong in the bass section, right? I also watched the Alicia Keys and Billie Eilish thing some time ago and noticed both did covers of the other, independently: So we seek our challenges, right? Personally, I like or prefer to speak of version or may be better still: variations, like in classical music when you do variations of the certain melody or song? The classical example would be Bach's The Art of the Fugue, so it's always that new variation that can be so enchanting. I recently watched your own Ukulele cover of Yebba's Where do we go recently and was so enchanted by the way you sang it and how this sounded, I prefer it over the original version. So, it is a cover, as you say, but in my view it is a variation which is something new and exists in its own right. What do you think?

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    Camille van Niekerk 4 years ago

    Definitely, Steffen! I actually did list Louis here:

    Oh, I agree 100%. I love many covers more than I love the originals (all due respect to the original artists) - for example, Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" and Johnny Cash's "Hurt". And one beautiful thing about music is that it's open to the interpretation of both listeners and artists. 

    Thank you for listening and for your feedback! I think another genre of music with "variations" built in is jazz. We might think of "Fly me to the moon" as Frank Sinatra's song, or "Someone to watch over me" as Ella Fitzgerald's - but in reality, they're both jazz standards that have been sung by countless artists, each with their own interpretation and influence. 

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    Joel Fredin 3 years ago

    Is it possible for you to list some Jazz songs that are beginner friendly?

    Best wishes,

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