Choosing songs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Depth_Charge, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. Our cover band has a real problem choosing songs to play. We play Top40 type rock n roll and both my guitarist and I want to play songs that are relatively fast, catchy and that we and the crowd rock out to.

    Our singer is really into slower, melodic stuff that bore both myself and my guitarist and always seem put him in the spotlight, and it seems no matter the band whenever someone suggests a song he'll come back with a ballad that band does instead, and since our drummer struggles to hold a fast beat we always end up with 2v2 deadlock.

    6 months since forming, we still have basically the same set list and the same arguments about songs, then yesterday at practice the singer dropped a bombshell - "Let's all just choose one song a week each to do no questions asked", then went on to choose his, and tell me and the drummer what our choices were since we asked about them ages ago!

    Suffice to say I'm not really thrilled with this method of choosing songs, and I'm wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation and whether it worked or not.

    Sorry for the rant, I could go on about it but I'll spare ya's.


  2. vroc38


    Jan 5, 2006
    In my experience it's not uncommon for singers to be less than objective when suggesting cover tunes. They often gravitate toward material that they think showcases their voice. It's interesting that the majority of the tunes that we keep are those that either myself or the drummer suggested, or support 100%. Maybe the same traits that led us to choose support roles also allow us to be more objective about song choices.
  3. Every few weeks the players and our vocalist throw together about ten songs as possibilities.We all take a disc home with all the songs and we only do the stuff that grabs us after a couple of listens.We have a female vocalist so high register stuff is easy (kelly Clarkson,Pink..etc) but she also is into hard eighties rock and we cover even guns n roses and survivor songs.But it MUST be a consensus about what we play. If you're not into the songs it shows in the delivery and on your face!

    To be honest,watching a band playing mainly slower stuff so the vocalist can strut his/her stuff would bore me to tears after the first set.Must be murder playing it, when you really want to rock out!
  4. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    You gotta have some slower things to make the fast stuff sound faster. Variety really counts. But in the end, its keepin' on the dance floor that makes the money.

    When we pick songs, we pick things that our audience likes, and dance to. If everyone in the band loves a song and no one dances, the song is dropped.... no question.
  5. mrmoonjam


    Apr 17, 2006
    Here, Now
    It sounds like 2 problems that are pretty normal IME. First, the singer and drummer are unrealistic about what a crowd wants to hear, which is usually about 75-80% fast songs that actually get them up and moving. Second, they're trying to use your setlist to show off [singer] and hide weak spots [drummer]. If y'all want to gig and get asked back, they need some kind of reality check about what crowds respond to.

    If your setlist hasn't changed in 6 mos., IME that's a serious problem. As a drummer friend of mine once said, "If you're not learning new songs, people get bored and start firing each other." When you refer to a 2-2 deadlock, I guess you're picking songs by "majority rules." One band I'm in picks songs by consensus, and I think that's ideal if it works for you. It works best if people can bend a little to serve the music and the people you want to entertain. Playing in a cover band, I've grown to enjoy playing a few songs I originally, well, hated, just because they consistently get crowds movin' & groovin'.

    The drummer needs to confront his problem with faster tempos; confronting my weak spots is the biggest component of getting better, IME. Maybe you could have a conversation with him about it, or ideally a band meeting to talk about all these issues.
  6. Thanks for the replies there are some good ideas here.

    I agree that a few slow and obscure numbers in the setlist can work. Both my guitarist and I are willing to at least listen to if not learn a lot of the suggested songs (or at least a basic version) to see how we make them sound.

    But we also want to enjoy the playing experience and at the moment the slow tempo is making for boring practice and we're both getting a little tired of it.

    We usually go by majority rules, unless one person really hates a song. It just seems our vocalist "hates" most of what we suggest, or it's doesn't fit his vocal range, or the crowd won't like it etc. etc. sic ad nauseum.

    And now he is suggesting we just have each of us pick one song for next session, no questions asked and I can't help but feel doing that will create more animosity than good among a group starting to struggle to agree on much of anything...
  7. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I do not understand why you do not see an advantage in this deal. If one other person is with you, half the songs are exactly what you want. Unless you are a jerk who wants to control all the songs, I would say that is a pretty strong position that you should be more than satisfied with.

    I do not see this as bad, in fact, I think your singer has made a tatical mistake and I do not think you see it that way. Most singers call for full veto power. Many bands who have a struggle with songs create some sort of situation where majority rules or all people have to agree.

    You are in a situation where no one can veto your songs. And you come here and complain?

    Jump on this. Bring two great songs. In addition make an agreement as to rating the songs, not as slow and fast, but as "dance floor fillers" and "dance floor killers". If when you play a song the number of people on the dance floor stay a large number or increase, that is an F song. If the people on the dance floor stay a small number or reduce in number, that is a K song. After every set, mark up the set list as Fs and Ks and show everybody what you think the result was.

    Then whenever you are working on a set list, simply ask where the dance floor fillers will be. "Hey how many F songs we gona have this set? And where they gona be? Toward the end? Yea, thats a good idea. I am with you."

    That could be a fun way to gently move your group toward songs that objectively F the dance floor.

    Man. We really F'ed the dance floor tonight. Man. That was an F song. That song Fills!

    Can I say that? The Fill word?
  8. Tim I see your point and I do feel it was a mistake on the singers' part and something easily taken advantage of (whether I want to is another matter that sounds awefully 'political'). And you're right having the guitarist in my corner is certainly an advantage.

    I do like the F/K grading system over fast/slow and if we're still using the "choose anything" method and gigging (we don't currently gig together), I'll give that a try once we have a crowd to judge by :)

    I guess not gigging adds to the issue of what will rock and what won't, and only time will tell if the singer holds to his own decision to allow anyone to add anything.

    Thanks again,

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