Nashville had the power on the third episode of NBC’s Songland. Along with songwriting pro, Shane McAnally, award-winning singer-songwriter, and the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, Kelsea Ballerini appeared as the featured celebrity. On a quest for a song for her upcoming album, Kelsea was treated to four performances from rising songwriters and, with a little help from Shane, Ester Dean, and Ryan Tedder, she got her potential hit.
When Ester asked the country superstar what she was looking for, she said, “I always go for like a proper jam,” Kelsea said, “or I want to cry.”
Fortunately, Kelsea got some of both.
The first contestant, Justin Bieber lookalike Jack Newsome of Rumson, New Jersey was, admittedly, a fan of Kelsea’s. He explained that his original song, “Lying (Next to You),” had roots in both country and pop. After his performance, the pros began spitballing ideas on how to make the song work for Kelsea and Jack was quick to submit his own suggestions that Kelsea embraced.
Next up was Jess Jocoy who was living in Nashville to pursue her own artist and songwriting career. Her haunting ballad written in three-quarter waltz time, “Easy,” told her own story of a man that her friends warned her to stay away from. “They were right,” she said. Following her riveting performance, Shane told her, “You’ve got some really good bones with that melody. It’s going to haunt us,” but after Jess left the stage, Kelsea expressed concern that the song was very personal to Jess.
Daniel Feels of Los Angeles took the stage next with his original beat-driven pop song, “Crush,” and it was obvious that Kelsea was onboard almost immediately. “I like this song,” Ester told him after the final note dropped. “It’s a happy one,” Kelsea added. “It feels good!” The pros immediately went to work on the infectious tune and compared Daniels’ composition to the work of the legendary Paul Simon.
Philadelphia’s Darius Coleman was the final writer to make a bid for Kelsea’s new cut and while he admitted that he might not be the most obvious choice, he was over-the-moon about the possibility that a star like Kelsea could cut his song, “Better Luck Next Time.” It turns out, he may have been selling himself a bit short because after he presented his song to the pros, Kelsea told him, “That’s something that would fit on country radio right now.”
After a break to discuss the music, Kelsea, Shane, Ester, and Ryan decided that the three writers continuing on were Daniel, who was paired with Ester, Darius, who was set up with Ryan, and Jack, who was sent to work with Shane. Kelsea did, however, offer positive praise to Jess and encouraged her to use her song for her own artist career.
When Daniel, Darius, and Jack each returned to perform the rewrites of their respective songs, it was impossible to judge a clear winner from Kelsea’s reaction. The devout music lover found something positive to say about each of the rewrites and bounced in her chair, ponytail swinging, during every performance.
But when it came down to choosing, the talented tunesmith who just earned her fifth No.1 with “Miss Me More,” surprised Darius Coleman by choosing his clever and complex “Better Luck Next Time.”
Look for Kelsea’s version of “Better Luck Next Time” to be available soon and congrats to the “Miss Me More” singer and her team on her newest smash.