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Talent Songs that Pageant Judges Are Tired of Hearing

April Nelson, Miss Louisiana 2015,pageant talent,pageant judges
April Nelson, Miss Louisiana 2015 – Photo: Miss America Organization

You know what we’re talking about. As soon as you hear the first note there is a collective groan of “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Yes, someone actually chose to use an overplayed song for their talent.

She may be new to pageantry, or she may be a pageant veteran. But either way, you know the pageant judges might just mark her down for having to listen to that song again. (Read: How to Find the Best Talent Music)

Here are some songs to steer clear of while picking your talent music.

Overplayed Originals

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

It has been the anthem for multiple illness fighters and girl power since it came out, so no matter how much it means to you, avoid using it for talent. Instead, keep it in your playlist and use it as your pump-up song backstage.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland

Dorothy made it home from Oz. This song is overdone. It was even on American Idol. Drop a house on it unless you are going to bring the house down with your performance of this classic.

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Kira already did it. She won with it. The Minions dance to it. Just don’t.

“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins

We get it, you’re dancing, your feet are loose. The remake of this movie brought the song back so we suggest avoiding it.

“Fame” by Irene Cara

If you want the judges to remember your name, do not use a song from 36 years ago. It’s cliche.

“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

She just killed it at the Super Bowl, but no one needs to hear one of her songs from 5 years ago. It’s great to be unique, but this song may not be the best one to show it.

Alluring Artists

Michael Buble

His old school croon makes him fun to dance to, but because of this, he’s often overused.


Whether singing or dancing, she is a mysterious artist that can be fun to sing or dance to. But watch her music. If it’s current, it’ll be popular to use.


Adele is an amazing singer, so unless you can do an amazing retake of the song that has not been done before, do not attempt this.

Michael Jackson

He’s the King of Pop for a reason. He commanded the stage and rocked every single performance, even in rehearsal. But he was so dominating over so many decades all over the world that his music is used often for any talent performance. Search for lesser known/used tracks if you want to give a nod to MJ.

Hesitant Hymns

Unless you can do this in a unique and powerful way, steer clear of the hymns. You don’t know what the background of the judges is, and you don’t want someone to feel offended of your song choice.

Odds are, Whoopi Goldberg will not be judging you, so leave “Joyful, Joyful” and “Oh, Happy Day” out of it. Also, don’t ask for “Jesus [to] Take the Wheel,” since a lot of girls have asked him to in pageants already.

So You Think That’s A Good Song

So does every one else. If it was the song to a routine on So You Think You Can Dance, do yourself and the judges a favor and don’t use it as your talent music. If you do, make sure the routine does not mirror the one from the show.

Disdain for Disney

Princess Pet Peeves

Whether you are you decided to “Wish Upon a Star” “Under the Sea” while discovering the “Colors of the Wind” in order to write your our very own “Tale as Old as Time” because you’re “Almost There,” “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” you saw yourself win “Once Upon A Dream,” you knew you could do it while looking at your “Reflection,” or you’re wondering “When Will My Life Begin,” just “Let It Go” and pick a different song.

Forget Frozen

“Let It Go” is insanely overplayed. But, it’s not the only song in this movie’s soundtrack that we’d rather avoid. Unless you have a fresh take on it, avoid performing it, whether it’s Anna preparing for the Coronation or Olaf singing of summer.

Beware of Broadway

“Think of Me,” from The Phantom of the Opera

Yes, it kicks major butt and it’s super fun. It’s classic meets rock-n-roll. But others agree and have performed it, so just leave “Think of Me” to your road trip playlist and not the stage.

“I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables

We’ve all had a dream before, which makes this song often overused. Stay away from any song that may be considered overused!

“Memory” from Cats

There are many memories of people singing this song, so if you want us to have a “Memory” of you winning, try to pick a more original song.


Michael Flatly maybe the Lord of the Dance but you better be able to dance like him if to perform to the same song. In the words of Chandler Bing, “It’s as if his legs move independently from his body.”

Anything from Rent

Idina Menzel also lent her voice to this classic, which is filled with ensemble performances. But with Idina’s voice so strong in the soundtrack, be careful if you decide to use this song as her voice is unique and memorable much like Adele.

Anything from Wicked

This is another Idina Menzel masterpiece. Unless you can hit that note, it may be better not to attempt it. Your score will be unable to defy gravity if can’t, and you will not be so “Popular” when you sing a song done so many times before.

Standing Out

It is key for your performance to stand out and song choice is a huge part of that. Look back at songs from the past, pick a current song, change it to fit your style, and give it a fresh take. Kris Allen did this on American Idol when he took the popular Kanye West song, “Heartless,” and gave it an acoustic, raw feel. (Read: Top 10 Most Memorable Pageant Talents of 2015)

Remember, you do not want the judges to be bored from the first note they hear. You do not want them comparing you to a performance that they have already seen or to the original artist. (Read: Is Technical Skill of Entertainment Value More Important in Pageant Talent?)

Make sure that your talent is a reflection of you and not such a performance that the judges become confused as to who you are. Good Luck!

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