Looking for the ultimate list of pop songs for tenors to sing?
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The tenor range serves as one of (if not) the most popular vocal ranges throughout the entire history of pop music.
However, with such an overwhelming number of pop songs in the tenor range, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re simply looking for something to sing along to.
In this article, our team of musos-cum-internet-wizards have compiled the ultimate list of tenor pop songs, filtered into categories and packed with helpful snippets of information about each track.
These songs will work for pretty much any purpose you need them for, be it a fun night of karaoke or that all-important singing audition you’ve got coming up. They’re also great for singing practice!
Feel free to jump around this list and find the category you need, then cherry pick whichever tracks take your fancy:
The Best Pop Songs For Tenors
We won’t bury the lead on you; here’s our best-of-the-best picks when it comes to pop songs in the tenor range:
Let It Be (The Beatles)
The Beatles were all but broken up by the time “Let It Be” was released in March 1970.
Today, it remains one of the band’s classics, anchored by McCartney’s lilting delivery and its personal, yet universal message. McCartney’s full vocal range is on display in “Let It Be,” in places plaintive and others soaring with memorable weight.
I’m Yours (Jason Mraz)
Sometimes, the most powerful and memorable songs are the simplest.
In 2008, Mraz was best known for his distinctive upper-range tenor voice that often veered toward controlled falsetto.
Ever playful and creative, Mraz’s “I’m Yours” combines his vocal flare with an irresistible, laidback vibe.
Somebody to Love (Queen)
Excitingly operatic and strikingly emotional, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s one-of-a-kind tenor voice fits the gospel-tinged song like a glove from the very first note.
Soulful and soul-searching, “Somebody to Love” remains firmly planted in pop culture consciousness, with Mercury’s soaring voice just as powerful today as it was in 1976.
Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
Current tenor du jour Ed Sheeran made his biggest impression with this 2014 hit.
“Thinking Out Loud” deftly tells the universal story of romance, getting older and still knowing the one you’re with is truly the one.
Sheeran’s moving vocals and unique romantic delivery floats and soothes without turning to mush.
Summer of ‘69 (Bryan Adams)
Whether you interpret Bryan Adams’ 1985 ear-worm as pure nostalgia or purely about a certain, well, position…this one is a fun & easy-listening ‘80s-style rocker.
Adam’s tenor voice earnestly evokes the light spirit of carefree summertime on this track.
Cry Me a River (Justin Timberlake)
For high tenors and falsetto-lovers, Justin Timberlake’s 2002 breakthrough is like heaven — sexy, cool, and charismatic.
Bolstered by a throbbing Timbaland beat that never washes Timberlake out, “Cry Me a River,” an oh-so-over-it break-up diss is equal parts fun and emotive, with lush rhythms that stay with you like a fever dream.
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul Simon)
Paul Simon’s majestic 1970 anthem is a landmark, with reflective and affirming lyrics reaching new (literal) heights with singing partner Art Garfunkel’s rhapsodic high tenor-falsetto.
“Bridge” deservedly won Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys. If this one doesn’t hit you right in the feels, nothing does.
The power ballads to end all power ballads, Aerosmith’s 1993 epic showcases why Steven Tyler is one of music’s most powerful frontmen.
A crazy-good hook will only get you so far. It’s Tyler’s coarse-yet-clear tenor voice that elevates “Cryin’” to the next level of pop — catchy and damn fun.
You’ve Got a Friend (James Taylor)
Warm like grandma’s blanket, James Taylor’s take on songwriter Carole King’s classic is the perfect pop song for a tenor.
Tinged with emotion, straightforward and relatable, nothing else quite reaches its simple message in such an easy way.
Karma Chameleon (Culture Club)
Culture Club’s 1984 hit is a classic pop confection: lightweight yet filling.
Led by frontman Boy George’s distinctive tenor lilt, the perkiness masks its underlying theme.
“The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing,” as George once described in an interview.
George’s pain is a tenor’s reward.
Pop Songs For Male Tenors
Next up, here are our top choices for male-led tenor pop songs:
Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)
The Journey classic, first released in 1981 has lived on and on and on and on (sorry).
Credit Steve Perry’s pure and classic tenor voice, which takes this melodrama to the sky and back. Coming soon (and always) to a karaoke night near you.
Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
Rivaling Ed Sheeran for 21st-century tenor supremacy is Bruno Mars, and his 2010 ballad is exhibit A.
The lush chorus belies the simple nature of the lyrics: Mars describes a woman he simply can’t get enough of. Ah, love. And ah, Mars’ voice.
Let’s Stay Together (Al Green)
Nothing is smoother than Al Green’s 1972 R;B stunner. Nothing.
Green’s tenor voice is a dream in “Let’s Stay Together,” written by Green, Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson, Jr. The vocals lift and turn and swirl and you simply cannot help but sing along, tenor or not.
It’s no wonder that Rolling Stone listed “Let’s Stay Together” as No. 60 on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. It should be much higher.
In My Blood (Shawn Mendes)
Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes’ movie-star looks often overshadow his powerful tenor rock-pop vocals.
“In My Blood” showcases his potential to be stirring, upfront, and personal (the track is about Mendes’ battle with anxiety, he told Teen Vogue).
The musicality of the track is also hard to resist, shifting between light pop and power rock — a perfect fit for a mature, confident tenor.
Brick (Ben Folds Five)
Trio Ben Folds Five’s only top 10 hit packs a wallop.
First, the unique tenor/falsetto of titular frontman Ben Folds guides the song on a fluid journey that hooks you from the start.
Second, there’s the emotional subject matter, a tale of teen love, mistakes, regrets, and life lessons. And yes, it’s pop.
She’s Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
Early Billy Joel songs are a tenor goldmine.
Take 1977’s “She’s Always a Woman,” a remarkable song with gorgeous vocals from Joel, who wrote it about his then-wife, Elizabeth. The lyrics cut as deep as his voice, which never fails to elicit goosebumps.
Joel and Weber divorced just a few years after “She’s Always a Woman” was released. But hey, at least we got the song out of it.
Blinding Lights (The Wknd)
The Wknd continues to mesmerize with hits like 2019’s “Blinding Lights,” a spinning, melodic nugget about the power of love and pull of relationships.
This track’s attractive pop pull is credited to co-writer Max Martin, who’s behind some of the biggest pop hits of the last two decades, including Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” among about 134 others.
Stay With Me (Sam Smith)
If you’re going to have a post-one-night-stand reflection on your lonely life, at least make a hit out of it.
Sam Smith’s 2014 gospel ballad is elegant and heartbreaking, with a soulful tenor that came from nowhere. It’s elevated by a vocal power that’s becoming increasingly rare in pop.
You Sang to Me (Marc Anthony)
Somewhat overshadowed by Ricky Martin in the Latin-pop explosion of the late 1990s, Marc Anthony’s crystal-clear tenor voice adds weight to his 2000 ballad, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Yes, Anthony’s intensity may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to argue with his talent.
Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
Jon Bon Jovi’s raspy tenor voice has never as good as it is on Bon Jovi’s signature 1986 track.
It’s like a spiritual successor to the storytelling of “Don’t Stop Believin,’” with Jon Bon Jovi’s rich vocals mirroring Steve Perry’s, but with an ’80s twist. And that’s a compliment.
Pop Songs For Female Tenors
Although commonly referred to as being part of the male vocal range, there’s a massive range of awesome female-led pop songs that sit within the tenor range.
Here’s a few of our favorites:
Smooth Operator (Sade)
Is there anything sexier than the English band Sade and its uncategorizable 1985 hit?
How about singer Sade Abu’s otherworldly tone and diction, her smoother-than-smooth contralto delivery, and her husky, funky take on pop-jazz?
Yeah, that would be sexier.
Rainy Days and Mondays (The Carpenters)
It’s hard to pick just one track from the Karen Carpenter-led The Carpenters for this list, since her voice is so distinctive, her spin on songs so perfect for female tenors.
We’re going to go with this 1971 pop classic, which showcases Carpenter’s full power and uniqueness that guided some of the biggest pop hits of the 1970s.
Midnight Train to Georgia (Bill Weatherly)
Songwriter Bill Weatherly first wrote this R;B classic as 1) a country song and 2) as “Midnight Train to Houston,” according to The Billboard Book of Number One Hits.
Both of those would have been OK, but then we never would have gotten Gladys Knight and the Pips’ 1973 cover of the song, pulsating with Knight’s honeyed, sultry vocals and dripping with soul.
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)
Tracy Chapman’s timbre is unmatched, especially on her 1988 breakthrough hit.
The lyrics are captivating, but it’s Chapman’s singular vocals that elevate her as one of our greatest singer-songwriters. It’s folk, it’s rock, it’s pop, and it’s all Chapman.
Waking on Broken Glass (Annie Lennox)
Sorry, Dave Stewart, but post-Eurythmics Annie Lennox is our favorite Annie Lennox.
Her velvet voice captivates in 1992’s “Walking on Broken Glass,” counterbalancing the poppy, upbeat rhythm that seems to conflict with the broken-relationships analogy of the lyrics. It just works.
Video (India Arie)
Perhaps the best contralto since Tracy Chapman, British singer-songwriter India Arie shines bright in 2002’s folk-pop “Video.”
Sporting an impressive vocal range, Arie’s rich tone is authentic in a way that lesser singers can only aspire toward.
Down to Zero (Joan Armatrading)
A downright perfect song about rejection and handling heartbreaking, Joan Armatrading’s 1976 masterpiece blends her expert storytelling with an unmatched voice.
Sullen and strong, enticing and foreboding, there’s nothing like “Down to Zero” out there — and there probably never will be.
These Are Days (Natalie Merchant)
There’s something ethereal yet organic in 10,000 Maniac’s former frontwoman Natalie Merchant’s vocals on this 1992 alternative hit.
Her contralto voice rises and falls seamlessly, shifting between soulful pop and garage rock. It’s a reflective and showstopping tune that’s a great showcase for a full-throated range.
Landslide (Stevie Nicks)
Stevie Nicks’ 1975 song was not a hit at the time; it reached just No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100. But there’s a reason it is beloved and covered by musicians as disparate as The Smashing Pumpkins and The Chicks.
Nicks’ poignant and unforgettable low-toned vibrato is the definition of unconventional. It’s also why she’s one of the legends of rock.
Pop Songs For Low Tenors
Finally, here’s our top pick of pop songs that sit in the lower end of the tenor range:
It’s a Beautiful Day (Michael Bublé)
Unabashedly cheery, Michael Bublé’s 2013 power-pop track is a fantastic fit for his throwback low-tenor take on standards.
“It’s a Beautiful Day” is a big move into straight-up bubbly-pop for Bublé, showing that his vocal range fits that genre well.
“I have always written these songs about love, or loss or longing,” Bublé told BBC News. “I thought this is a great concept. I am going to write this song about a guy whose girlfriend thinks she’s the greatest and dumps him.”
Daniel (Elton John)
You can pick any early Elton John song if you’re looking for a perfect low-tenor tune, but “Daniel” is one of his best — emotive and timeless.
The 1973 hit’s lyrics are as emotional as John’s vocals, about a Vietnam War veteran who’s disillusioned after returning home and longing for the life he once had, according to co-writer Bernie Taupin.
Let’s Get It On (Marvin Gaye)
The 1970s soul classic from the master, Marvin Gaye, topped the Billboard singles chart for two weeks and remains one of Motown’s greatest classics, full of longing with an instantly memorable rhythm.
Its power is undeniable. “Above all, it has Marvin Gaye’s best singing at its center, fine background voices on the side, and a long, moody fade-out that challenges you not to play the cut again,” wrote Rolling Stone.
The Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
Former Eagles lead singer Don Henley released this 1984 scorcher on his second solo album.
Pulsating with themes of love, loss of youth, and fading idealism, “The Boys of Summer” is perfect for a low-tenor singer who excels at evoking sentimental longing, but can deftly veer it away from schmaltz.
Take It Easy (Eagles)
Speaking of the Eagles, this breath-of-fresh-rock-air from the Eagles’ landmark debut album, combines country, rock, and pop in one package.
Lead singer Glenn Frey shares vocals as smooth and easy as the title suggests. It’s laconic yet poignant, exciting yet laid-back.
Time in a Bottle (Jim Croce)
Released as a single soon after singer-songwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash, “Time in a Bottle” functions as a fitting memorial for both Croce’s talent and his unique, low-register tenor.
A love song without sticky-sweet sentiment, Croce wrote the song after finding out his wife was pregnant. It hit No. 1 a full 14 weeks after his death.
Collide (Howie Day)
Howie Day’s 2004 single features his warm, low tenor voice that’s straightforward but also inventive, alternating between the high notes and the gritty lows.
It’s a nice take on an eternal theme in love and song: opposites attract.
Fly Away (Lenny Kravitz)
Lenny Kravitz’s resurgence in the late 1990s and early 2000s was propelled by low-tenor rockers like “Fly Away,” which sounds both modern and reflective of 1970s area rock.
Kravitz’s voice is spectacular here, gritty but soaring. It won Kravitz a Grammy in 1999 for Best Male Rock Performance.
One Headlight (Jakob Dylan)
Jakob Dylan conveyed some deep thoughts on this acclaimed single from his 1990s band, The Wallflowers — he once said it’s a song about the “death of ideas.”
It’s also gritty folk-rock best suited for a low tenor with a voice that’s also a bit rough-hewn. The tone is deep, distinctive, and a bit weary.
Good Riddance [Time of Your Life] (Green Day)
Unavoidable in the late-1990s, Green Day’s mainstream hit shows off frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s low tenor shaped by decades of pop-punk perfection.
Armstrong wrote “Good Riddance” after a girlfriend moved out of the country, according to the Green Day biography Nobody Likes You.
You can hear the pain, but also the sly anger and subversive sense of humor, all wrapped into evocative lyrics and unconventional melody.
We hope we’ve spoiled you for choice with this ultimate list of tenor pop songs! If you enjoyed this article, why not also check out our list of pop songs for for altos?