I recommend these 5 steps for memorizing and what is called “getting inside the lyric”.
#1 Listen, listen listen! It is recommended that you listen to many artists singing the same song, as the lyric may vary a bit from artist to artist. Research what the original lyric really is, according to the composer and look up any words, expressions or phrases in the lyric that you don’t fully understand.
#2 Write down the lyric by hand, yes, the old fashioned way! Finding them online and printing them out does NOT get them in.
#3 Read what you wrote. Ask yourself – what is the story of the song and why do you feel to sing it? Where’s the poetry? What is the chronology of the events (if there are events) that the song speaks of? Sometimes different phrases of the lyric are interchangeable, so make mental notes of the order of the of the phrases. I often use the alphabet or find something that works for you.
#4 Speak the lyric, this is important! Speak it slowly with breath support and feeling. Dig in! Take it out of the tempo in which it appears in the song. Caress each word and let w go by unimportantly.
#5 Okay, now you’re ready to sing it. You can start by singing along with vocal recordings of other artists. It’s recommended that you don’t get stuck in any one rendition. Sing it many times. And/Or.. look for an instrumental or karaoke track of the song and sing with that or just sing it a cappella OR come to me for some voice lessons! I’ll accompany you on piano and we’ll work on it together.
Final note – Your goal should be to not just memorize the lyric but to internalize it. That is to say, bring it in to a deeper place within. That place where you will still remember it when you are ninety. When you perform you need to know the lyric better than you ever thought you needed to know it…inside out, upside down, backwards and in your sleep! When you’re performing, if a little nervousness kicks in, lyrics that you thought you knew can fly right out of your head… trust me on this one!