NMT COUNTDOWN: Top 10 Songs to Sing When You’re Sick and Auditioning Anyway

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!

I hope that you all have been having better luck battling the weather than I have out here in San Diego. Yes, it is gorgeous and sunny every single day, but unfortunately that induces pollination year round, which wrecks havoc on my allergies. So far I have had to perform with strep throat, a sinus infection and a nice, old fashioned, summer cold. Don’t worry, I have been drinking my tea, taking all my medication and protecting my voice, but it got me thinking: what kinds of songs can I sing when I am sick? Hopefully this list can give you some ideas of some songs you can go to when you just can’t.

1. Blue Hair – Joe Iconis

I’m a huge fan of this song anyway, but especially for those girls who can’t push their belt on a certain day. There really needs a speaky, relaxed, quality in the voice in order for the song to land correctly. It can’t be too sung-through or the words will never be understood and it will come across as too formal. It is also an opportunity for a singer to use consonants to their advantage. Let the words do the work for you and let your “singing” voice relax.

Watch this video on YouTube.

2. I’m Sorry – Kerrigan-Lowdermilk

This story song has a folky quality about it, which can be a relief when you are sick. It means you can show off your voice in the correct style without having to push much vocally. Also, sopranos, this is a great song for when you can get the notes in your upper range, but your lower is nonexistent. This song works for me as a wonderful warm up piece in the morning trying to assess where my voice is having issues that day.

Watch this video on YouTube.

3. Expectations of a Man – Jonathan Reid Gealt

Similar to “Blue Hair,” this song is all about talking. Really use your nasal resonators to take the pressure off your vocal chords but still be heard. I’m not saying to be nasally (though it might feel like it when you are sick), but I am cautioning you to not let this wordy song get stuck by trying to push on your chords to get the sound out. Just connect to the story and tell it through speaking on pitch. Basically just try to be Rex Harrison for a few minutes and you’ll do just fine.

Watch this video on YouTube.

4. Way Ahead of My Time – Peter Mills

This song is built on comedy, which basically means timing. Yes, the notes are important, but the words and comedic timing are the most important thing to get across to an audience. On days when you are feeling sassy but might be a bit hoarse (or just not up to your normal vocal power), pull this song out to give yourself a boost and show off your hilarious personality.

Watch this video on YouTube.

5. Uncharted Territory – Adam Gwon

Mezzos and altos, welcome to your new best friend. This piece has such a well-told story paired with a (relatively) easy, tuneful vocal line. It is low enough that it fits well into a voice that might be prone to pushing due to sickness and stops that dead in its tracks. It does have some belted notes, but they aren’t held too long, which helps on those days where you only have one or two money notes in you before returning to the comfort of your bed and best “sick day” Netflix binge.

Watch this video on YouTube.

6. More – Michael Patrick Walker

Baritones- this is a great song for you to check out! It has patter moments for you to give some nasal resonance and speaky quality, a nice story to tell, and a few money notes (not too high) to pull out at the end after you have used the earlier part of the song to “warm up the chords.” This is what I think of when I see the words “contemporary musical theatre” – a really touching song composed with a modern sensibility, and this one focuses a little more on the storytelling than using a long, flowing vocal line.

Watch this video on YouTube.

7. Stay Awhile – Carner and Gregor

I want to preface this with saying that if you are feeling under the weather, you will need to pick the right cut of this song because it does have some higher, held notes that require good vocal support and vocal power. Don’t discount it though! Check out Jeremy Jordan’s performance for a way of coming across as casual and talky, but still showing off great acting moments. Carner and Gregor write with the singer in mind- if your voice is up to it, their music makes total sense.

Watch this video on YouTube.

8. Map of the Stars – Brad Alexander

This is a great piece for showing off personality and being able to manipulate the song to fit what your voice is capable of on a particular day. The high notes don’t have to be held long- it fits into the style of the piece, the patter portion doesn’t get too rangy, and it needs some speech-like singing in order for the audience to clearly understand the story.

Watch this video on YouTube.

9. If I Ever Say I’m Over You – John Bucchino

You’ve probably already read in my earlier posts that I am a huge John Bucchino fan and this song is no exception. For those days when I am feeling a touch under the weather, this song is like warm soup to the soul – even just listening to it makes me feel better! It requires the singer to have a delicate sensibility and really focus on the musicality, but doesn’t task the singer with majorly hard singing or any pushing.

Watch this video on YouTube.

10. Goodbye to Boston – Sam Davis

This is gorgeous ballad that is a little more about a supported legato line than the speaky patter common in many of the above songs. The beauty (for an ill performer) is that this piece has a straightforward vocal line- there are no surprise high notes or riffs out of nowhere. It allows the performer to focus on the acting moments and telling the story rather being vocally “on” and “impressive.” That will just happen naturally!

Click here to stream today’s NMT Countdown playlist. Remember, the code NMTCOUNTDOWN is good for these songs today only, so if you’re preparing for cold season before it hits, today’s the day to snatch up this deal!  

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