Today’s post was inspired by a question from one of my readers:
Nicole, thanks so much for your awesome advice! My son is almost 16 and is preparing for The Voice auditions; his style is classic and contemporary standards and although he is open to other genres he is confident about his style and his niche is more the crooning type and he has a bass voice with a good range. One of the questions I have about The Voice (red ticket) callback auditions (just in case) is their definition of “current / popular” songs for the second callback. Does that mean songs that are currently on the top 100 charts? Or does that mean older songs that are popular in general? Please shed some light on this if possible, you sound like you are “in the know”. Thanks, Katherine
I’m very glad to sound “in the know”, but as I’m not directly related to the show I can only give my opinion as to what The Voice considers to be “current/popular”. I’ve been watching for quite a few years now so at least it’s an educated guess!
[Note: I answered Katherine’s great question in the comments section of another page, but thought it was worth expanding on as a full post as many other probably have the same question.}
I suspect Katherine raised this question because if her son’s a “crooner”, he’s probably really well suited to a lot of older repertoire and not whatever Justin Timberlake track is currently climbing the charts.
I think The Voice are essentially looking for songs that people know, songs that people recognise when they hear them. New or old, it doesn’t matter, so long as the song is not too obscure. They audience doesn’t want a contestant they don’t know singing a song they’ve never heard before, and producers know that. Audiences want a connection, and if they don’t know the singer, then a familiar song choice really helps to generate a connection with the contestant.
Think about it – the day after The Voice airs, water cooler conversations are usually “Hey, did you see that guy’s reggae rendition of Heartbreak Hotel on The Voice last night?” or, “I can’t believe how good that girl’s version of Creep was on The Voice, I never even liked that song before but she made it totally amazing”.
Song choices should either be recognisable because they’ve been played a lot recently (“current”), or because they’ve been around for a while and people still play them regularly (“popular”) – on the radio, frequently downloaded online, from classic albums, etc.
Frank Sinatra recorded and released “I Get a Kick Out of You” over sixty years ago, but it would be an excellent song choice for a crooner because it’s still popular and covered by plenty of artists (and by the way, don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia when it comes to music!). On the other hand, a song from a completely unknown band, even if it was released less than a year ago, would not be a great choice.
That’s not to say a song from unknown band couldn’t be amazing, but you need to keep in mind that The Voice is mainstream, prime-time entertainment. Thinking about your audience and what they are going to enjoy most is a smart, strategic way to approach song choice. It may be called The Voice, but there are plenty of other factors at play, and song choice is one of the top ones. Choose a song that’s currently all over the place, one that’s still played regularly, or a classic that people remember.