Songland is only in its second season and proving to be quite the runaway hit in the NBC line-up. The credit can go, in large part, to songwriter/producers Ester Dean, Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder who show that not only is songwriting a business, but it’s also an art and a passion. Adding Latin Grammy winner and “Despacito” singer, Luis Fonsi, to the mix only seemed to elevate that passion.
In addition to “Despacito,” which has sold over 11-million copies and is the most watched video of all time on YouTube, Fonsi has recorded 10 albums and released 48 singles. His recordings include collaborations with artists like Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Demi Lovato.
If you’re new to the Songland audience, four songwriters start out in the competition performing an original number. One writer is eliminated and the three remaining are paired with either Ester, Ryan or Shane who helps them to refine their composition and prepare it to be presented again to the celebrity guest. The guest then selects their favorite, which they record and release immediately.
DYSON from Plymouth, United Kingdom
Original song: “Conditions” – pop-flavored with a heavy clap track
SHANE: “I freaking love that song!”
LUIS: “I think the song is great. It’s just, lyrically speaking, it might sound a little preachy for a guy, or maybe even aggressive for a guy to say that, which is an easy change. It’s just a matter of tweaking it.”
ESTER: “If we changed the word (“conditions”) to a different word that feels just the same…”
PIPOBEATS from Pasadena, California
Original song: “Sway” – written in Spanish, Latin beat
SHANE: “Oh my god, I’ve never seen the band move like that.”
LUIS: “That was like musical caffeine right there. I like Chile and you, like myself, we speak the language, but we live in the United States, so we have a lot of different influences and I can hear that in the song.”
RYAN: “I think the chorus is a smash. I do have one thing that I think robs the chorus. You have conflicting melodies in the pre-chorus. You have, melodically, what you’re singing, and then, you have the guitar doing its own line. The ear doesn’t know which one to focus on.”
LAUREN MARTINEZ from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Original song: “I Don’t Want to Know” – hooky, pop-infused, driving beat
LUIS: “Great lyrics, great concept.”
RYAN: “You’ve got to get a lot deeper, a lot harder into what you don’t want to know.”
ESTER: “I needs more story.”
CORii from Moorestown, New Jersey
Original song: “What If” – very pop, with a prominent snap track
ESTER: “What if you knew you could sing your ass off?”
LUIS: “What if you just keep singing? Right now, if we were to leave and hear ten other songs, and come back to this, we would probably sing that ‘what if, what if,’ however, is it too complicated?”
DYSON with Shane
PIPO with Ryan
LAUREN with Ester
LAUREN’s collaboration with Ester gave “I Don’t Wanna Know” a decidedly male perspective.
LUIS: “I love the fact that now we don’t hear so many ‘I don’t wanna know,’ but it’s still there because that’s the hook of the song. This took off. I love it.”
DYSON’s collaboration with Shane changed the title of “Conditions” to “Lost In Translation.” They added a post-chorus and performed it as a duet.
LUIS: “Cool way to flip that song, man.”
SHANE: “This girl was a dream collaborator.”
PIPO’s collaboration with Ryan gave “Sway” an even more defined beat and groove.
LUIS: “Love that hook!”
SHANE: “That hook is insane!”
LUIS: “You guys made this very hard on me. That’s a good problem to have. What you guys did with these songs is amazing. You brought them to my world and I’m grateful for that.”
LUIS chose PIPOBEATS’ “Sway.”
Luis’ cover of “Sway” is now available to download or stream, and the live concert music video is already up on YouTube.
Next week, Songland welcomes “Hard Place” singer, H.E.R.