Singing With Elvis Backing Tracks
There are many ways you can fit your Elvis backing tracks in to your repertoire. Using the information about backing tracks you’ll find on this website, you can easily find many ways to integrate Elvis Presley songs in to your show:
- Tell your audience some history about Elvis – this is a great way to get communicating with your audience and informing them about the artist who’s songs you are about to sing. Audiences don’t like performers who just sing one song after another with no talk in between, so use some facts and figures about Elvis Presley as an introduction to each song.
- Try interspersing the Elvis songs you sing with some information about what the song was written about, what it means etc.
- Create a quiz about Elvis Presley and use the backing tracks as teasers – for example you might ask “Can anyone in the audience guess what year this Elvis Presley song charted?” or “Which album did this song come from?” etc. When you’ve finished singing the song, tell them the answer – it’s very entertaining and gets an audience involved (see biography)
- Take your audience on a trip down memory lane by singing your Elvis backing tracks in order of the year they were first released, telling the audience the year and perhaps some information about fashion or trends from that year. For example, you could say that “Blue suede shoes” was released in 1956, the same year that Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller and the movie The King and I was breaking box office records.
- If you find yourself performing your backing tracks to some real devoted Elvis Presley fans, you could make up set-lists of songs from a particular album (see discography)
- Put together a Elvis Presley tribute show using your Elvis backing tracks. It can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be. At the lower end of the budget, a chequered shirt and jeans (early years) and an inexpensive cat-suit with wig and sunglasses (Vegas years) is as much as you need to lay out. If you want your tribute show to be a “bigger” extravaganza, you could invest in a professional wig, stage back-drop (a star cloth with the name of your tribute show will look great), make-up to try and make yourself look more like Mr Presley, and specially recorded backing tracks to fit in with any choreography or play-on, play-off music you need to give your show the edge (see custom backing tracks)
- Make up a set-list of Elvis Presley backing tracks to perform. Although the set-list for a dedicated Elvis Presley tribute show will differ slightly from the set-list for a show in which you sing a variety of music where you’re only inserting a short 15 minute Elvis “segment” somewhere in between, either way the rule-of-thumb is always the same – start off your set with slower songs and end it with more fast/uptempo songs. This doesn’t just apply to Elvis Presley set-lists, but is applicable to all types of set-lists because every good entertainer knows that the secret to a successful gig is “building” the atmosphere throughout the evening, working the audience up to a screaming frenzy by the end of the gig!
Slower Elvis Presley backing tracks
Are you lonesome tonight
Can’t help falling in love
In the ghetto
Mid-Tempo Elvis Presley backing tracks
A fool such as I
Devil in disguise Didja ever
Good luck charm
I just can’t help believin
It’s now or never
One night with you
Return to sender
The wonder of you
Up-Tempo Elvis Presley backing tracks
A little less conversation
All shook up
Blue suede shoes
His latest flame
That’s alright mama
If you are performing a Elvis Presley tribute show, you may have to change your songs around to suit the show (for example you may be doing a selection from one particular album or singing the songs in a chronological order). However, these “sub-sections” of songs will still work better if you structure them in the same way as above – ie slow to fast.
Our backing track of 2001Space Odyssey going in to Just can’t help believin’ is a good opener for the Vegas years set.
You should also try to end your show with a real punchy, uptempo song and if your audience ask for more, then a big ballad will finish off the night really well. Although you may think that ending with a ballad contradicts the advice I’ve given you before about going from slow songs to fast songs, your last song of the evening should always be treated slightly differently – think about it for a moment…it’s time for the last song of the night, you’ve done your job, you’ve whipped the audience up in to a frenzy, so now you can bring the evening to a nice gentle close with a nice power ballad like “American Trilogy” to finish off nicely.
Making up a set-list is not an exact science so do have fun and experiment and see what songs work best and in which order. Remember the main thing is that your performance flows and works well for your audience as well as for you as a singer.