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How do Talent Show Contestants Choose a Song? The Answer Might Surprise You!

Jillian Pretzel

Jillian Pretzel

TALENT SHOW SONG SELECTION SIMON COWELLPhoto by Neil Mockford/GC Images)

Ever wonder how the competitors choose their songs on shows like The Voice and American Idol? Well, it turns out that the singers don’t necessarily get to select their songs.


According to Tribune News Service, the song choice is often a joint decision between the show’s producers and the contestants.

That’s right, Kelly Clarkson probably didn’t choose “A Moment Like This” outright for the legendary season one finale of American Idol. Just like how Connor Christian’s (Team Blake) incredible cover of “Bright Lights” by Gary Clark Jr. on the most recent episode of The Voice might not have been his first pick.

So, Why Do The Producers Want A Say In Song Choice?

As it turns out, they want to avoid all the singers choosing the same songs (like these), but they’re hoping to help the singers show their best side, explains The Voice executive producer Audrey Morrissey.


“Often times artistes are not clear on what kind of artiste they want to be,” Morrissey says.
“Sometimes they’re just putting songs on their list that they love and they’re not really thinking about their personal statement.”

The contestants submit a list of songs and the producers consider which song would be the right pick for them.

“We have several recordings of (the contestants). We’ve seen them in person. We listen to them again. We cross reference with their list. Then we think, ‘OK, what is the right song for them to get a push?’ That’s all we’re thinking about,” says Morrissey.


However, Morrissey Says That The Producers’ Opinions Aren’t The End-All-Be-All.

“I can tell you this: regardless of what people may say at the moment, there is no person that goes on that stage that the song that they ultimately perform and end up with isn’t a song that derived from their list, or was inspired by their list. “Or that they did not raise their hand and say, ‘I don’t feel good about this.’ At any point they can, and their song will be changed.”

So, with such careful selection, is there a specific genre that was chosen more than others in 2020?

Nielsen Music, the industry-standard information and sales tracking sector, published a report in July of last year, officially naming hip-hop as 2020’s most popular music genre.

So, while there is a hefty amount of pop and rock songs on talent shows, perhaps we’ll be seeing more and more hip-hop singers, like The Voice Australia’s Denzel, a fan-favorite rapper in 2019, or America’s Got Talent season 13’s Flau’jae, who got the golden buzzer.

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