Criteria for Judging on Singing Competitions

Looking back, singing competitions used to have a criteria for judging (e.g. Star for a Night, Sing Galing, Star in a Million, and Pinoy Dream Academy). The criteria helps judges evaluate the singer’s vocal range, versatility, originality, and stage presence. Fan base is not included.

Another thing that I like about singing competitions is I get to hear amazing vocals that I don’t usually hear on the radio. Singing contests are different from MTV and MTV is not a singing contest.

So what makes a singer better than the other? For me, these are what I always look for:

  1. Acrobatics – showcases the range, tone and quality of the voice. The most common forms of acrobatics usually heard in singing competitions are the following:
    1. Grudge

    2. Ladder

    3. Curls

    4. Falsetto

    5. Shifting

    6. Shout

    7. Other Forms

    A song can be interesting even without acrobatics. But since singing competition is about competing and proving which singer is better than the other, singers have to sing vocally challenging songs by adding a few acrobatics to help bring the best out of their vocal range and show their versatility. I mean it’s like how can you be a guitar idol if you’re just strumming (no plucking, sliding, etc)? That’s why some contestants combine 2 acrobatics in one (e.g. curling falsettos for R&B singers while shouting grudges for rockers). But it doesn’t mean that the more acrobatics they do, the more interesting the song will be. Sometimes too much of it can ruin the song. This is where the “arrangement factor” comes in.

  2. Arrangement – arranging songs is like trying to think out of the box to:
    1. make their songs sound different from the original
    2. know what kind of acrobatics to use for which type of songs
    3. try to make it sound interesting to the general audience
  3. Stage Presence – this is the singer’s attitude, facial expressions, and how they move on stage.

Today, singing competitions are starting to rely on audience votes. The results maybe influenced by a lot of factors like sympathy votes, good/bad publicity, physical appearance, and a lot more. I feel bad for those who do the effort and try to infuse a couple of acrobatics in nice original arrangements and can sing different styles of music, but are still not appreciated. I mean, what is there to compete about? It seems like those who look good on stage and sing catchy songs have better chances of winning than those who have real talent.

Note: Terms used in this article such as acrobatics, grudge, ladder and curls are just made up by the author.

15 thoughts on “Criteria for Judging on Singing Competitions”

  1. Mader Ghee, you may also want to check out this blog by Rosanne Simunovic, a vocal coach ( She has a more technical opinion on the performances of the American Idol contestants.

  2. Wow thanks for that info’s… i really help me in my singing…

    u can check out some of my videos in youtube… just search for emjay caseja… thanks

  3. Hi hello,

    Greating from the Philippines, Mabuhay!
    My name is Almar and i started singing when i was 6 years old and i joined singing competition at the age of 11 upto now. my voice change into a classical pop-opera. i am 36 years old now and single. and im willing to listen of advices and critics for me to learned more. i havent study in a formal lessons of voice , though i love too but i can’t afford. its so expensive especially here in the philippines. everything is getting higher. All that i’ve learned from my personal study. i also teach to those singers who has the potential in singing but also dont have money for school in music.
    i copy your tips in joining contest so that i could echoe this to my students.
    In this connection, I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge in vocal coaching. More Power and may God Bless you more and More.

    Almar/ Philippines

  4. This is the most HONEST thought about judjing the singers…I feel bad sometimes when someone won over the deserving one just because of text votes. The real talent was suppressed and the person will think that he/she is not good because they didnt won. It can also cause discouragement on the side of the good singer who didn’t won. Only if the judges knew how to judge fairly and correctly, they will not rely on the people’s lack of experience choice.I like what youve said…I was thinking about it before but you put my thoughts in WORDS here…Thanks and God Bless You!!

  5. This criteria for singing competitions is applicable for pop music singing only but we’ll be glad if you post also the Criteria for judging singning competitons on classical music. We have series of competitons on Kundiman (Filipino Art Song Original) here in the Philippines. Mostly classical songs are sung in the original musical arrangements and it is strictly prohibited not to change its arrangement and rhythm. This is just suggestion for those people who frequently asked about this kind of music and its criteria for judging. This will also broaden the knowledge, help singers and musicians to critically distinguish with taste the competitions they listen to. Thank you for taking time to read this. We’re very grateful about this info that has been very important to all of those who wanted to sing and join a singing competiton.

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