NMT COUNTDOWN: The Musical Theatre Top 40
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!
Very rarely will a Top 40 hit include full orchestrations with choral inspired four-part harmony, a splash of belt, and a dance break because very rarely (at least nowadays) will a showtune make the charts. I’m okay with that – the separation between pop music and show tunes is not a crime. There’s a reason “Chromolume #7” wasn’t the summer jam of ’84. And let’s be real, there is no Broadway equivalent to “Party in the USA.” But as more and more contemporary writers are writing pop-inspired sounds, more and more singers have started bringing pop tunes into audition rooms. If you only have showtunes on your iPod but want to be a contender for the lead role in a musical that sounds like what you hear on the radio, don’t panic. We bring you the musical theatre Top 40: the top 10 bestselling songs from the last year that seamlessly bridge the gap between musical theatre and pop/rock/alternative/anything besides showtunes.
10. Belief (Alexander Sage Oyen)
This is a great song for tenors looking for a powerful pop ballad. Especially once the drums come in after the first chorus, the beat is infectious.
9. Berkeley (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk)
This folky trio (as performed by another folky trio) evokes the sounds of artists like Sufjan Stevens, the Lumineers, and Mumford and Sons (only with less banjo). Bring this one into your next audition for a new show with a folk rock-inspired score and show off how well you can pull off this multi-genre crossover.
8. The Ballad of Sara Berry (Ryan Scott Oliver)
Not exactly Carrie, but close to it, this gritty ensemble piece highlights the events of a high school prom gone wrong. Its very obvious rock influences make it a hit with younger ensembles, gliding through moments of eerie ballad and jam sessions. Oh, and be sure to perform this song with a heavy dose of theatrics.
7. Never Enough (Drew Gasparini)
Drew Gasparini often writes songs that bridge the gap between musical theater and pop, and you’ll see his name a few times on this list. This song is perfect for an audition because of how strong the character’s goal is. But it also sounds like it would fit in perfectly with the music scene outside of the musical theatre scene. Bring this one into your next audition where you want to sing a pop/rock song and show off your fierce belt too.
6. Good For You (Drew Gasparini)
“Good For You” appeared on SMASH as part of Hit List. It’s a soaring pop anthem that’s bound to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day (in the best way possible).
5. The Human Condition (Drew Gasparini)
I love this fantastic song and its Sara Bareilles vibe. With the pop-rock Grammy nominee’s music coming to Broadway later this season, now is the perfect time to bring this song into auditions.
4. I Still Love You (Adam Gwon)
With a hint of a folksy feel, Gwon’s honest ballad plays out like an old Olivia Newton-John song that you’ll hear every now and then- maybe in an old restaurant or in a car next to you at the red light. It is also the kind of song that Ingrid Michaelson would cover. It just makes you feel overwhelmingly nostalgic for something, though you can’t pinpoint exactly what.
3. If I Had You (Drew Gasparini)
“If I Had You” is a longtime frequent NMT bestseller and for good reason. It’s a jazzier pop tune than some of the other Gasparini songs on this list, and despite the awesome video below, it’s a solo that’s perfect for auditions. Tenors, take note.
2. Two Little Lines (Drew Gasparini)
This is the perfect song if you want a pop-MT crossover that errs more on the side of musicals. It’s more of a story song than most Top 40 hits, but Gasparini’s music brings makes it more genre-bending than solidly showtune. It’s a soliloquy, meant to unlock a character’s inner thoughts, but a modern-day one that brings us into the character’s unfiltered thought process.
1. Anyway (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk)
An iconic K-L piece, “Anyway” could easily be mistaken for an acoustic track on Taylor Swift’s Fearless or an Ani DiFranco classic. The straightforward lyrics, recapping the events of loss, leave enough space for the singer’s emotions to add an extra dimension. With a lyrical crescendo spanning over six minutes, the performer is given time to captivate their listener and inevitably break their hearts.
Click here to stream today’s NMT Countdown playlist. Remember, the code NMTCOUNTDOWN is good for these songs today only, so if you’re hoping to breathe some pop into your audition book, you should make it happen today!