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50+ Hard Songs to Sing - and the Exercises to Master Them

September 22, 2023

50+ Hard Songs to Sing - and the Exercises to Master Them

Young woman singing against a red wall Tim Robberts / Stone / Getty Images

Ask any experienced vocalist for a list of what they consider to be hard songs to sing, and they can probably provide you with five or six examples without much thought.  However, there are as many examples as there are different voices, and every individual singer will have individual vocal hurdles to overcome with their repertoire.

On the other hand, it is possible to identify a few examples across a few genres where a majority will agree that, yes, those are hard songs to sing.

No matter how much you love to sing, there are always going to be songs that are just a little bit harder than the rest. Maybe it’s the high notes that are tricky, or the fast tempo that makes your heart race. But whatever it is, there’s no denying that some songs are just more challenging than others. So if you’re looking for a challenge, or you’re curious about which songs are the hardest to sing, read on.

What is the Hardest Song to Sing?

The song that YOU might consider the hardest to sing might not be the hardest for your other friend that likes to sing! However, here are some of the trickiest tunes to master, with each hard song to sing sorted by genre:

  • Opera – Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro – Porgi amor 
  • Easy Listening – Brodsky: Be My Love
  • Popular/Film – Harold Arlen: Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  • Musical Theater – Schonberg: I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables)
  • Classical song – Frank Bridge:  E’en as a lovely flower

No matter where you are currently as a singer, there are lots of ways you can improve. Taking singing lessons can help you dramatically improve your singing. Check out the benefits of singing lessons by watching the video below: 

What is the Best Song to Show Off Your Voice?

Here are five of the hardest songs to sing, along with a few suggestions for exercises that will help you master them for yourself. There’s no better way to show off your voice than by mastering these hard songs to sing!

1. Opera – Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro – Porgi amor (Countess Almaviva)

This beautiful aria is the soprano’s first appearance at the beginning of Act II. It looks incredibly simple on the page; a clear melody in 2/4 time, with no difficult passages. However, that very simplicity is what places it high on any operatic soprano’s hard songs to sing list – with no ensemble or recitative to warm up with, and no colleagues with you on stage, it’s a nerve-wracking experience even for a seasoned professional.

How to improve: An adequate physical and vocal warm up will help you.  Make sure that you open your ribcage by stretching gently from side to side, and touching your toes a few times.  A gentle walk will also set you up well, as you’ll clear your head and warm up your muscles. Vocally, gentle humming through intervals up to the fifth and back to the tonic each time will warm your voice up.

2. Easy Listening – Brodsky: Be My Love

Made popular by Mario Lanza, this is a song requiring an open sound and intelligent negotiation of register breaks. What really adds this to the list of hard songs to sing, however, is the necessity of being absolutely certain of where to place the notes.

How to improve: Learn the pitches first without the words; use a good open vowel sound, and check the pitches against a keyboard. Next, practice on the vowels of the words only, and make sure you’re singing a smooth line. When you add the words as a third step, imagine that each phrase is one long word, and think of joining your final consonants to the beginning of the next word.

3. Popular/Film – Harold Arlen: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Everyone knows this classic from The Wizard of Oz, made famous by a young Judy Garland! So what is it that makes what appears to be such a simple song on a list of hard songs to sing? Think again about where you’ve heard it – not only does it appear at a particularly poignant point in the film, it’s common fare at weddings, parties, and other events. The emotional control required is considerable.

How to improve: Learning how to show passion and emotions, while at the same time not letting it distract you, is an important skill. To help with this, make sure you’re practiced any emotionally-charged songs a ton before performing in front of others. With enough practice, you’ll get to a comfortable level with the song, so that you feel more in control.

4. Musical Theater – Schonberg: I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables)

Five years ago, an unlikely looking Scottish woman stepped on stage in a national talent show and silenced the audience’s laughter with vocal power that astonished the judges as well as the viewers at home. Following that, this wistful anthem to missed chances immediately became a popular choice with singers everywhere. However, it too requires the same level of emotional control as the “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, as well as considerable vocal power.

How to improve: You cannot “make” a big voice; all you can do is hone the one you have until you’re using it properly. Although opening your mouth unnaturally wide can encourage your voice to spread, make sure you are actually giving it space to escape! Stand up straight, and make sure that your weight is distributed evening on both feet. Imagine that your audience is at the other end of a playing field, and that your voice has to carry there – don’t be tempted to shout or oversing, as a good, projected power will be enough. Singing long phrases to open vowels will encourage you to make economic use of your breath and also help your voice open up.

5. Classical song – Frank Bridge:  E’en as a lovely flower

This beautiful example of an early twentieth-century English song is full of the post-Victorian harmonies and pastoral key changes that color not only the likes of Vaughan Williams and Walton, but are also apparent in the work of Bridge’s famous student, Benjamin Britten. This one joins the list of hard songs to sing because of its gently shifting tonality and therefore tricky pitching issues – but once you learn how to fix that, it is absolutely rewarding for its simple beauty.

How to improve: Take each page as a single unit, and work out which notes you need. Fix them in your head, and learn the “map” between them. Finding security over the intervals will help you.

Even More Songs That Are Hard to Sing

Looking for more songs that are really hard to sing? Look no further! We have the ultimate breakdown below. You didn’t think we’d stop with just five songs, now did you?

What Are Some Hard Songs to Sing Female?

Anyone who has ever tried to sing along with their favorite song on the radio knows that some songs are just harder to sing than others. 

For female singers, this is often due to the range of the vocalist. In order to hit the high notes, many female singers have to extend their range beyond what is comfortable, which can result in a less than ideal performance. 

While there are many great songs out there for female singers to showcase their vocal range, there are also a number of difficult songs that can be challenging to sing. Here are just a few examples of hard songs to sing for female vocalists.

  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key: This is one of the most difficult songs to sing for anyone, regardless of gender. The reason for this is its extremely wide range, spanning nearly two full octaves. Hitting all of the notes requires a great deal of control and breath support, making it a challenging song for even the most experienced singers. 
  • “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston: This song has a wide range as well, but it also features very intricate runs and ornamentation that can be challenging to execute without sounding nasal or strained. Finally,

Other songs that are hard to sing for females are:

  • All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey.
  • Someone Like You by Adele. 
  • Chandelier by Sia.
  • Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush.
  • Video Games by Lana Del Rey.
  • Rolling in the Deep by Adele.
  • Crawling by Linkin Park.
  • I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing by Aerosmith.
  • Stay With Me by Sam Smith.
  • Stone Cold by Demi Lovato.
  • Love on Top by Beyoncé  
  • Imagine by Ariana Grande. 
  • Welcome to The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance.

Of course, these songs will vary depending on the singer. Some vocalists may find that these are really hard songs to sing, while different people might consider other tunes to be hard female songs to sing.

What is the Hardest Male Songs to Sing?

Next up on our list of songs that are hard to sing are those for the guys.

There are many songs that are notoriously difficult to sing, especially for male vocalists. The high range and powerful vocal style of opera can be a challenge for even the most experienced singers. In addition, many popular songs require a great deal of breath control and diaphragm support in order to sustain long notes. 

Some hard male songs to sing include:

  •  “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera Turandot 
  •  “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi
  • Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” 
  • “Crawling” by Linkin Park
  • “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
  • “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith
  • “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
  • “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” by Ed Sheeran 
  • “Cry Me a River” by Michael Bublé 
  • “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

Hard Pop Songs to Sing

As any singer knows, some songs are just more difficult to sing than others. Whether it’s because of the range, the melody, or the lyrics, certain songs can be a real challenge to get right. And when it comes to pop songs, there are definitely some that stand out as being particularly difficult to sing. 

One of the hardest pop songs to sing is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. The song requires a very clear and powerful voice in order to hit all of the high notes. 

Another difficult pop song is Adele’s “Someone Like You.” The song has a wide range and is mostly sung in a lower register, which can be tough for some singers. 

And finally, again, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston is also a tough one to tackle. The iconic song has a lot of runs and ad-libs that can be tough to replicate. So if you’re looking for a challenge, try singing one of these hard-to-sing pop songs.

Hard Opera Songs to Sing

Opera is a genre of music that is known for its beautiful, complex melodies and emotional power. However, opera songs can also be notoriously difficult to sing, especially for beginners. 

Some of the hardest opera songs to sing include:

  •  “Queen of the Night” from The Magic Flute 
  • “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot
  • “Casta Diva” from Norma

These songs require a wide range of vocal technique and stamina, as well as a strong emotional connection to the lyrics. If you’re looking for a challenge, these three opera songs are sure to test your vocal abilities.

Hard Christmas Songs to Sing

Some Christmas songs are easy to sing. “Jingle Bells,” for example, is a simple tune that even young children can manage. 

Other Christmas songs, however, are notoriously difficult to sing. 

  • “The 12 Days of Christmas,” for example, is packed with rapid-fire lyrics that can trip up even the most experienced singer. 
  • The same is true of “Deck the Halls,” which features complicated harmonies that can be difficult to follow. 
  • Then there are carols like “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” which have long verses that can test the stamina of even the most seasoned vocalist.

Let’s not forget “O Holy Night,” which has a massive range that can be difficult for vocalists to master!

Not all Christmas songs are created equal—some are easy to sing, while others are decidedly challenging. But regardless of how difficult they may be to perform, these hard-to-sing Christmas songs always seem to bring people together in the spirit of the season.

Hard Disney Songs to Sing

Many people grew up singing along to Disney movies, but not all of the songs are easy to sing. In fact, some of them are quite challenging, particularly for those who are not trained singers. Here are a few of the hardest Disney songs to sing:

  • “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book: This song has a challenging range and requires vocal control to sound good. 
  • “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast: Though it’s a fun song, it’s also fast-paced and difficult to keep up with if you’re not a trained singer. 
  • “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast: This is a beautiful song, but it’s also quite high-pitched and requires a lot of control to sing well. 
  • “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid: This song is fun but also fast-paced and full of tricky lyrics. 
  • “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid: This is a sweet song, but it’s also quite low-pitched, which can be difficult for some singers.

These are just a few of the hardest Disney songs to sing. If you’re not a trained singer, it’s best to avoid these songs unless you’re willing to practice and

Hard Country Songs to Sing

Country music is often thought of as being sad and sentimental, but there are also many songs with a more upbeat message. Here are four hard country songs to sing that will get your feet tapping and your heart pumping. 

  • “The Dance” by Garth Brooks: This is a song about living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment.
  • “Ring of Fire” : This classic by Johnny Cash is a song about taking risks and following your dreams. 
  • “Stand By Your Man”: A classic tune by Tammy Wynette, this is a song about loyalty and commitment. 
  • “I Walk the Line”: This song by Johnny Cash is a song about staying true to yourself. These are just a few of the many hard country songs that are sure to get you moving.

Hard R&B Songs to Sing

If you’re an R&B fan, you know that some of the most iconic and memorable songs in this genre are also the hardest to sing. But why shy away from a challenge? Whether you’re a seasoned singer or a newcomer to the genre, tackling a difficult R&B song can give your vocal skills a workout and let you truly explore the depths of the music. 

Easier said than done, right? If you’re looking for some hard to sing songs in the R&B genre, get grooving with some of these top picks: 

  • “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston – This classic ballad requires both power and delicacy, as Whitney’s soaring vocals demand precision and control. To tackle this song, start by focusing on your breathing, as the long held notes and transitions require plenty of support. Practice hitting each note with clarity and purpose, being careful not to overdo vibrato or runs. It’s also important to sing from the heart, as this song is a true emotional powerhouse.
  • “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin – Another R&B legend known for her powerhouse vocals, Aretha Franklin delivers an intense, soulful performance in this classic. The song starts with a slow, almost pleading tone, building to a powerful crescendo that showcases Franklin’s range and control. To tackle this song, focus on your phrasing and timing, as the intensity of the lyrics demand a careful balance of emotion and restraint. Pay attention to your breath support and try to match the nuances of Franklin’s performance as closely as possible.
  •  “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys – A modern classic of the R&B genre, this song is both challenging and accessible, making it a great choice for intermediate singers looking to push their skills. The song includes both belted high notes and soft, tender tones, requiring a balance of power and nuance. 
  •  “Superwoman” by Karyn White – This upbeat, catchy tune features intricate vocal runs and plenty of power and attitude, making it a great song for those looking to challenge themselves. The song’s rapid pace and complex rhythms can be tricky to navigate, so it’s important to practice your timing and pacing. e.
  •  “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston – One of the most beloved dance-pop songs of all time, this Whitney Houston classic features high, soaring vocals and plenty of energy. To tackle this challenging tune, practice your vocal agility and range, being sure to hit each note with precision and clarity. Focus on your breath support and pacing, as the song’s upbeat tempo can be tricky to keep up with. 

Hard Karaoke Songs to Sing

Who else here loves belting out tunes at karaoke bars or in the shower for their own personal concert? Karaoke can be a great way to let loose and have fun, but sometimes the songbook can present a challenge. We have all been there: scrambling through a list of overplayed favorites, realizing too late that we bit off more than we can chew with a tricky tune.

The good news is that you can prepare for these challenges ahead of time by mastering your favorite songs ahead of time – no matter how tricky they might be.

Here are some of the hardest karaoke songs to sing:

  • “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston: An ultimate karaoke classic, “I Will