It’s back to school season and The Green Room is looking out for you. All this month, the NMT Countdown series is bringing you a guide to the best-selling songs on NMT from the last year. Are you planning a cabaret and looking for the perfect stand-alone song? Are you a soprano looking for audition material that shows off your classical skills? The NMT Countdowns will guide you to some of the best songs NMT has to offer. PLUS: for today only, get 20% off the songs on this list with the code NMTCOUNTDOWN. Happy singing!
We delved deep into the depths of the NMT records and found some buried treasure. Here’s a list (in no particular order because honestly they’re all really amazing) of some of the least-performed, most underrated songs by your favorite composers. There’s so much out there to explore! All of these songs will make great replacements for your favorite overdone audition pieces. Take a look and let me know if you find one you love!
1. Living the Dream – Tales From The Bad Years, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk
For any actor who doesn’t think you’re much of a singer: this is a great song for you! It’s more of a rap than a singer’s song and it’s hilarious. If you want to go to karaoke night with your musical theatre friends, pull this one out and surprise everyone! This is a great rap about married life and all that comes with it, presented in a serious way that’s sadly funny because of how truthful it is.
Greg Hildreth (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Cinderella) sings “Living the Dream”
2. I Hmm You – Edges, Pasek and Paul
This adorable duet not only is an anthem to that awkward in-between stage of romance between like and love, but also sneaks in a couple musical theatre tributes. The great thing about Pasek and Paul’s music and lyrics is that they manage to bring into song the things that we often think but don’t know how to say. This song doesn’t disappoint. It’s catchy, cute, and definitely fun! And it’s got a great journey, since by the end of the song, the characters are able to say what they really feel.
Why Not? Production Company’s production of Edges by Pasek and Paul
3. Burnout – Drew Gasparini
This is a great, undiscovered pop rock solo. It’s relatable to the frequent partygoer (or young New Yorker) and has a rocking power ballad feel to it. The bridge and/or verse following the bridge would make great cuts for an audition. It’s the kind of song that you could hear and sing along to on the radio but it’s got enough of a storyline to be a musical theatre song. And it’s Alex Brightman’s favorite Gasparini tune to perform, too!
Alex Brightman (Big Fish, School of Rock) sings “Burnout” by Drew Gasparini
4. Shoulders Down – Carner and Gregor
“Shoulders Down” is actually one of my absolute favorite Carner and Gregor songs. It’s quirky, adorable, heartfelt, and it’s got a huge range! This song has some tricky rhythms in it – so take your time when learning it, but it’s definitely worth the time!
Jackie Burns (Wicked) sings “Shoulders Down” by Carner and Gregor
5. Play the Princess – Joe Iconis
This girl-girl duet struck me because it’s so accurate to how girls look at each other. We often see someone else and think they have a perfect life, perfect personality, perfect everything. But sometimes they’re looking right back at us and thinking the same thing. It’s important to keep perspective and to realize that maybe everyone doesn’t want to live the perfect life – and that even if it seems like they are, it might not be what they wanted.
Melissa Rose Hirsch (The Bad Years) and Remy Zaken (Spring Awakening) sing “Play the Princess” by Joe Iconis
6. Lovable – Jonathan Reid Gealt
Jonathan writes some of the most emotionally powerful songs I’ve ever heard, and Alysha Umphress is one of the most incredible interpreters of his work. If you’re looking for an alternative to his popular song “Quiet,” this is a stellar replacement. It’s got the same opportunities for riffs, rawness, and range as many of his other songs without sounding as if you’re trying to sing something else.
Alysha Umphress (On the Town) sings “Lovable” by Jonathan Reid Gealt
7. Union Square – from Hot Mess in Manhattan, Gaby Alter
Wow! If I had known about this song earlier this year, I would have included it in my list of top ten songs about New York City. It’s another song that you don’t have to be a mega belter to succeed at. It’s a simple, sweet love song to Union Square. It’s got a pleasant melody and enough variation between the bridges and verses that you could easily pull an audition cut out of it.
Cait Doyle sings “Union Square” by Gaby Alter
8. What It’s Worth – Out of My Head, Ryan Scott Oliver
With a dark undertone but overall message of understanding, this song is comfortingly typical of the RSO canon. It’s a powerful solo to show off your acting as well as your ability to hold long phrases. The song has a nice middle range with no dramatic highs or lows. It’s the most serious song on this list but there’s nothing wrong with a good dramatic ballad. RSO’s music has a definite, recognizable quality and his songs are great pieces to explore acting choices. They force you to know your character’s backstory and exactly what you’re singing about, and so they’re a great choice for an audition where you want to prove that you’re a real actor-singer.
David Wiens sings “What It’s Worth” from Out of My Head by Ryan Scott Oliver
9. Growing Up – Adam Gwon
This song is absolutely adorable. While it’s highly personalized to Gwon’s actual life, it could make a really cute character song for any guy. It’s meant to be sung in a cabaret setting, straight to the audience, but if you give yourself a believable imaginary scene partner, you could pull this off on your own. The backup singers are a wonderful addition but not absolutely necessary to the song, so you could still use it at an audition.
Adam Gwon sings “Growing Up” with Olli Haaskivi, Mallory Hawks, Sam Heldt, and Bonnie Milligan
10. Him – Salzman and Cunningham
This song brings to mind the classic “Someone to Watch Over Me.” It’s beautiful and has a very Golden Age feel compared to the rest of Salzman and Cunningham’s work. The feminist in me doesn’t adore the sentiment that all she needs is her man, but for an ingénue auditioning for an R&H show, it might be perfect. It’s got a glorious piano part underneath it as well.
Katie Rose Clarke sings “Him,” cut from The Legend of New York by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham
Click here to stream today’s NMT Countdown playlist. Remember, the code NMTCOUNTDOWN is good for these songs today only, so if you’re looking for the song less traveled, grab this deal before it’s gone!
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