Ever since NBC announced their new songwriting competition show, Songland, and began teasing the celebrity guests, fans have been anxious for the night effervescent Meghan Trainor would appear on the show. Their patience was finally rewarded when the talented and bubbly blonde appeared during the June 25th episode.
And it was reality show gold.
Meghan is working on her third album, and while she said she loves power anthems that are “sassy and have great meaning,” she was faced with four great songwriters who brought their A-game in one of the best episodes of Songland so far.
First up was Brandin Jay from Atlanta, Georgia. The absolutely joyful singer’s original number, “No Money Alright” was bouncy, fun and celebrated the fun that can be had with limited means. Following his performance, songwriter and producer Ester Dean teased Brandin saying, “You can’t write that good and don’t have no money.” Professionals Ryan Tedder and Shane McAnally also agreed with Ester that the lyric would have to be tweaked since Meghan does, in fact, have money now.
Tarzana, California’s KOLE took the stage next with her original song, “Hurt Me” and the judges were so impressed with her performance and production that she was questioned if she would be interested in pursuing an artist career. In fact, Meghan squealed when she finished and told her, “This should be your first single, I’ll take it!” And Shane admitted that he and the other pros might fight over who would get to work with KOLE on finessing the tune.
When Zachary Kale of Athens, Alabama entered the studio, Meghan pegged him as a songwriter simply by the way he looked. When he said he was all Nashville, she asked if she was going to hear a country song from him, but his original, “All Over Again,” was pure pop. Was it pop enough though? All of the pros agreed that the tune was so well written that there were multiple ways to rework it for Meghan.
The final emerging songwriter was Sunnyvale, California’s Josh Wood. Dynamic, energetic, and full of solid pop sensibilities, Josh’s song, “Alone,” drew little critique from the pros, but garnered truckloads of enthusiasm, especially from Meghan who sang along through Josh’s entire performance.
While all of the episodes have showcased some of the finest rising songwriters in the music industry, this may have been the toughest for the celebrity guest to choose from. She did, though, and the three songwriters that went through to work with a professional were Brandin, KOLE and Josh.
Josh went into the studio with Shane who was very upfront with the young writer. “There’s some stiff competition,” he said. “Now that I’ve looked at it closer, your melody is just so perfect, but I want the lyrics to pop like the melody did.” Following their session, Josh said, “I love that Shane brought playful lyrics that you’re going to remember because Meghan is playful, Meghan is smart with her lyrics. She’s witty, she’s funny.”
“KOLE clearly understands pop writing. She cut the vocals, she produced the track, she wrote the lyrics and the melody,” Ryan said in the studio. His concern was with the production of the song which just needed to be pumped up. “We’ve upgraded every line, we went over every single lyric, the chorus stayed intact. The song is catchy as hell, super radio friendly, so that excites me,” Ryan said after they finished.
While the essence of Brandin’s song stayed the same, Ester told him that she wanted to change the beat, but that they had to tackle that narrative significantly because it was all about “being broke.” But Brandin was receptive to any changes and was embracing the opportunity to work with such a respected producer as Ester.
Josh was the first to return to the studio to perform his revised version of “Alone.” “The song changed from the ground up,” he said, but all of the pros loved the changes. “It sounds ready, it sounds great,” Meghan told him.
For KOLE’s “Hurt Me,” the whole production ended up changing, and it paid off. “So good,” Meghan said. “I love everything.”
Brandin’s rewrite reflected the most changes. “The new title of the song is ‘We Got Us.’ Most of the lyrics are totally different now and I love it because it’s kinda got this inspirational feel now,” he said, beaming. It certainly inspired the pros who gave him a standing ovation. “Oh my god, it’s so different,” Meghan exclaimed. “Your song is now a different topic and a lot of songwriters would not be down for that.” Ryan also told him, “You emanate joy which is such an unbelievable personality trait, which has nothing to do with music but has a lot to do with music because guess what? I want to write with you. When someone makes me feel good and I can tell that the energy in the room is going to be positive, I want to spend time with that person.”
Again, Meghan, who said she would cut all three of the songs, was faced with a mighty decision to make.
But she did choose and “Hurt Me” by Kole was the song she selected to take to the studio.
Next week Aloe Blacc picks a song for the soundtrack to Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. And remember, Meghan Trainor’s “Hurt Me” is available for download now.