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As you embark on your beginner singing lessons, it can be helpful to set yourself some goals of what you’d like to achieve as part of your studies. Musical theatre is one of our most popular styles among our students and it comes as no surprise since there are so many beautiful songs written in the genre and they offer a real challenge for your vocals. In no particular order, we have listed 10 of the best musical theatre songs to learn. Whether you are just starting out and looking for some inspiration or you’ve been singing for a while and are looking for a challenge, you will find a song for you on this list!
1.Memory – Cats
Based on a poem by T.S. Elliot, this heart wrenching show tune was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Trevor Nunn, and it is by far one of the most popular songs in the musical ‘Cats’. The song is written for Grizabella, a character who was once a glamour cat and has now become an outcast. She sings ‘Memory’ to plead for forgiveness and acceptance from the other Jellicle Cats. Jemima, also known as Sillabub, is a young cat in the musical who is sympathetic of Grizabella and joins in through the song to urge her on. This is a beautifully written piece to aspire to and it’s fantastic to work on your key changes, dynamics and expanding your range.
2. Defying Gravity – Wicked
Probably one of the most popular show tunes of all time, ‘Defying Gravity’ is certainly a song that will give you a run for your money. This uplifting, emotive tune is a true pleasure to listen to and it really grasps your attention as it builds up to a stunning, powerful climax. In the musical, Elphaba Thropp, Wicked Witch of the West, performs the song as a way to own her outcast status and find power through it, which is quite different to ‘Memory’, where the protagonist pleads for acceptance. This is, without a doubt, a tough song to sing and one that requires a lot of skill and dexterity, however, it’s a great goal to set for yourself to motivate you through your lessons.
3. I Dreamed a Dream – Les Miserables
Another hugely popular musical theatre song, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ explores a very wide dynamic range and it’s fantastic for working on your softer, lower register as well as your vibrato and head voice. In the original, it is sung by Fantine, a character who is upset about ending up on the streets after getting fired from her factory job and reminisces on her happier days. In some adaptations, the song is also used to accentuate the fact that Fantine is forced to turn to prostitution after losing her job. As well as being covered by numerous artists in film adaptations and on stage, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is also translated in 21 languages, emphasising just how many people have enjoyed this beautiful piece all around the world.
4. You’re the One That I Want – Grease
Although it wasn’t in the original musical and it was later added in the film adaptation, ‘You’re the One That I Want’ from ‘Grease’ is a bouncy, upbeat song that is perfect for a duet. Originally sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, it has achieved a huge commercial success, selling an estimated 15 million copies. It has more of a pop feel compared to other songs on this list, therefore, it is perfect to learn if you’re transitioning from a pop background into musical theatre style.
5. A Million Dreams – Greatest Showman
We simply had to include this song, especially since it has achieved so much commercial success as the soundtrack for the film, ‘The Greatest Showman’. It has been covered by other famous artists like Pink, Susan Boyle and Michael Ball. Although ‘A Million Dreams’ has been popularised by a film rather than a theatre production, it has all the show tune qualities that will help you work on your craft and, due to its popularity, it’s also a very fun song to sing that will be recognised by audiences of all ages.
6. All That Jazz – Chicago
Perfect for adult singers who love a bit of jazz, this sultry song would work very well for someone who is comfortable in a lower register and might not want to venture into the bigger show tunes like ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ or ‘Defying Gravity’. Still, this song offers plenty of character and theatrics to play with and it is one that you can really have fun with while performing.
7. You’ll Never Walk Alone – Carousel
A very popular show tune from the 1945 musical ‘Carousel’, this song has touched the hearts of many around the world. It is sung in football clubs and it was also dedicated to key workers and those in quarantine during the pandemic. In the original musical, it was sung by protagonist Julie Jordan’s cousin, Nettie Fowler, to comfort her following the death of her husband. This is an uplifting and heart-warming ballad that can also be a really good challenge for your vocals.
8. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina – Evita
Beautifully written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ was initially intended for a concept album, which was later developed into the musical, ‘Evita’. This song was inspired by Eva Peron, who was the First Lady of Argentina and was involved in a number of charitable and feminist activities. This song is emotive, exploring a wide dynamic range, building from softer verses to a truly impactful chorus. A really great song for anyone to aspire to!
9. Favorite Things – The Sound of Music
A great song for beginners, this upbeat and cheerful show tune is from the popular musical ‘The Sound of Music’. Recently reworked by Ariana Grande in her song ‘7 Rings’, this is a comforting classic that will be loved by anyone who hears you practice!
10. All I Ask of You – The Phantom of the Opera
Ending our list with another number by Andrew Lloyd Webber, ‘All I Ask of You’ is a stunning duet that was originally recorded by Sarah Brightman and Cliff Richard, although the male protagonist was played by Steve Barton. The movie adaptation of the musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was widely successful and gave the original soundtracks a more current makeover.
Do you want to learn any of these songs? We can help!
We have talented singing teachers in London who can help make your musical theatre aspirations come true! We offer voice lessons for beginner adults in a comfortable, motivating environment that will let you overcome any anxieties you have about singing and unveil your unique vocal talent. Our singing lessons in London for beginners can be adapted to all and any of the most popular styles, so get in touch with us today for more information and to book your first lesson. You have nothing to lose and a beautiful vocal to gain!