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Contemporary Pop/Rock and Punk

Pop/Rock Musicals 

Next to Normal     If/Then     Rent     High Fidelity   

SpongeBob Squarepants, The Musical    Aida    Bare

Bat Boy    Billy Elliot     The Full Monty   

Matilda     The Toxic Avenger     Pretty Woman: The Musical    

The Heart of Rock & Roll     Triassic Parq The Musical

Beetlejuice     King Kong     Carrie

Dear Evan Hansen     13    Moulin Rouge! The Musical



The Music

Pop is the style of music that has a great catchy hook and intends to be a huge hit on the radio. It’s heavily produced, and the singer may or may not need to be good because of auto-tuning and vocoding! At its core, pop music is absolutely contagious!

Rock is based in drums, bass, and guitar. If it becomes a hit, that's cool, but the song is intended to be an emotional expression! PLUS, rock has a LOT of flavors, including punk rock, soft rock, classic rock, alternative rock, and rock-gospel! It’s VERY flavorful. Pop tastes great too, but simply, it takes like pop!


Picking a Song

Your audition song needs to capture the essence and energy of the show. So be sure to listen carefully to the score of the musical for which you are auditioning, and have an awareness of what music is popular in that style and time period! 

What musicals do you think this song would be great for you to audition for? One really important lesson for pop/rock is that you should never try to copy an artist. You should make a cover of the song, not an imitation. Here is a prime example of an original song and a great cover: Listen to Taylor Swift sing "I Knew You Were Trouble," then listen to Jessie J's version of the same song. How can you do that with your song selections?

Here is a pop/rock Spotify playlist !Once you find a song you love, get it on Musicnotes


Let’s break down Rock, Punk, and Emo!

Punk/Rock Musicals

American Idiot     Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Lizzie The Musical     Passing Strange

Rooms: A Rock Romance    Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark  

Jagged Little Pill     Be More Chill    Heathers

Cruel Intentions: The Musical

These musicals are all influenced by the current styles of popular music. Sometimes artists who write contemporary music on the radio write musicals too (i.e. Green Day's American Idiot), but I don't recommend you sing Green Day for an audition; it just typically isn't “rangy” enough. You should find music that has range AND this quality of rawness. Some artists I would call punk-pop would be Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at The Disco. You will get a LOT farther with these types of singers!

Here is a Rock/Punk/Emo Spotify playlist.


The History

Punk began in the 1970s with the British Invasion and the "Anti-Establishment Movement." It is very "stick it to the man." Think of a bunch of guys in a garage band. They don’t necessarily play their instruments well or sing well but they LOVE to get their feelings out! Punk music is wild, emotional, and fast and furious, but it has gotten more melodic over time, with pop-punk bands like Paramore and Panic! at the Disco. Here's an incredible video of the history of punk! Here's an even cooler video about the black history of punk music!

Emo is EMOtional music and generally has a more catchy melody line than punk. It's a mixture of pop and punk, with a generally darker, slower, and heavier tone, lyrically. Emo songs generally feature guitar melodies, confessional lyrics, and personal storytelling.

Here is Kurt Cobain. He started the "Grunge Movement" in the early '90s. Listen to him sing live. Notice there is no real screaming. Here is Hayley Williams of Paramore singing "Misery Business" Live. Is she screaming? Can you name what both these artists are doing? What quality is on their voices? 

Since we’re talking about the 1990s to NOW, think about how much culture has shifted from then to now! This music demands that you show us how you exist as a human being in the very complicated world of today. What emotions come up for you when you sing from a place of honesty about how it all makes you feel? We immediately think of anger, especially with punk music, but punk is actually raw emotion. What emotions, not thoughts, do you have when you are alone? How can you express raw emotion instead of anger through Punk music? Check out Avril Lavigne talking about being a “rock chick”!  


Audition Recap

Vocals: Emotion Driven (instead of Yelling!), Cover vs. Imitation, Wild, Rebellious, Straight Toned

Movement: Presence vs. Posture, Honest Expression

Pick a song that not only fits the style of the Musical, but gives you a platform to communicate raw emotion and be YOU - now!

Our goal is to present our cover version of the song, not to recreate the Artist.

Ground yourself in the full spectrum of your feelings; don’t cling to surface level angst!

Dress like you are going to a rock concert. If you put on some eyeliner and boots and turn the music up really loud and jam out, how does that make you feel? Bring that into the room. 

If it’s a contemporary pop/rock audition, just be casual and cute. Nice sneakers or low boots, clean jeans, and a cool top will do the trick! Done! As always, dress in a way that is real to you and the way you express yourself in the world. No cuff or black eyeliner could ever replace the feeling of not belonging, or the fear of failing.

Punk Style!

Watch Contemporary Pop/Rock and Punk Classes Below

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