Nineties nostalgia has reached an all-time high in western society, and musical theatre certainly hasn’t been immune. In fact, ’90s one-hit wonder kid, Duncan Sheik, has scored TWO Broadway shows over the past decade. In the U.K., Tori Amos’s musical The Light Princess had a healthy run on the West End. Various other contemporary musicals have incorporated ’90s pop and rock styles into their scores.
The main takeaway from the above: if you’re a singer-actor who hasn’t found a solid ’90s pop-rock song for your audition book, now is a GREAT time to do so. Below are ten iconic, ’90s pop-rock tunes originally sung by women. Men should feel free to put their own spin on these as well. When you finish listening through this list, check out my list of male ’90s pop/rock audition songs here.
P.S. If you need assistance choosing appropriate repertoire for yourself or for your students, please check out my new repertoire consulting business, The Repertoire Guru.
1. “PERFECT” – ALANIS MORISSETTE (1995)
Honestly, quite a few Alanis Morissette songs would work well in auditions. For this list, I chose one of her more understated and heart-wrenching ballads, “Perfect”. Fun Fact: The entire Jagged Little Pill album is currently being adapted into a stage musical.
2. “BITCH” – MEREDITH BROOKS (1997)
This Meredith Brooks feminist anthem is one of the most memorable one-hit wonders from the mid-’90s. It’s a great audition choice to show off your confident, edge-y side! Extra props if you can work in the choreography in the video below.
3. “TORN” – NATALIE IMBRUGLIA (1997)
Another one-hit wonder. Particularly notable here are the poignant chorus lyrics: “I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel. I’m cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor…” A great choice for a strong, emotive actress.
4. “I DON’T WANT TO WAIT” – PAULA COLE (1996)
Dawson’s Creek turns 20(!) next year. The chorus of this Paula Cole hit served as the popular teen show’s theme song for six years, and it’s sure to evoke some memories. TIP: Try to include the great, edge-y bridge section in your 16-bar cut!
5. “YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME” – JEWEL (1995)
Jewel has re-invented herself as an artist several times over the past few decades, but her folksy, evocative hits from the mid-1990s remain the best of her musical output (in my opinion). This one is a great driving ballad for singer-songwriter type performers.
6. “DREAMS” – THE CRANBERRIES (1993)
It’s basically impossible to make a ’90s music list and NOT include The Cranberries. The Irish rock band had multiple international hits throughout the decade, but “Dreams” is their most iconic tune (it’s also featured in several film soundtracks).
7. “YOU GOTTA BE” – DES’REE (1994)
Described by Stuart Elliott in The New York Times as “an infectiously sunny tune about the affirmative powers of self-confidence”, Des’ree’s uplifting single is a stylistically unique alternative to the other tunes on this list. You gotta be.
8. “DON’T SPEAK” – NO DOUBT (1995)
No Doubt has broken up and reunited at least a few times over the years. Vocalist Gwen Stefani wrote this well-known ’90s tune about her ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal shortly after he ended their seven-year relationship. A good song choice for a strong actress.
9. “PRETTY GOOD YEAR” – TORI AMOS (1994)
Tori Amos songs tend to be difficult to cut for auditions due to their more ‘experimental’ form and structure, but I’m certain there’s a great cut waiting to be cultivated in this one. The bridge features a particularly striking key change and vocals.
10. “ONE OF US” – JOAN OSBORNE (1995)
Religious/faith-based songs don’t often shoot to the top of the pop charts, but here’s one exception. Joan Osborne’s famous (infamous?) power ballad remains one of the most defining one-hit wonders from the ’90s.