Ester Dean, Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder were challenged with a very specific task when celebrity guest Bebe Rexha appeared on the 8th episode of this season’s Songland. Invited to record a song to promote the Tokyo Olympics, Bebe asked her Songland pals to join her in creating an anthemic song befitting the honor.
Fortunately and as always, the rising songwriters who presented original music on this episode were more than up for the challenge.
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.
The writers were:
GREG SCOTT – Chico, California
- Original song: “Miracle”
SHANE: “The verse just didn’t feel current.”
BEBE: “Yeah, the melodies, everything I would completely X that and start from scratch. The one thing that I think is incredible is the hook, so you have the foundation of the song”
ALYSSA NEWTON – Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Original song: “Made for Something”
BEBE: “I love the sentiment of this song. I know that I’m here for a certain reason and we all are here on this earth for a purpose and I love that overall message of the song. The only problem is just that if I was in the Olympics right now, you’re looking at these people, they’re all fighting to have this one spot. They practice all their lives and it’s like, what would you want to listen to? I want more. I want to be hyped up. I want to make it feel anthemic in a dark way.”
ANNA GRACEMAN – Juneau, Alasks
- Original song: “Gold”
BEBE: “The melodies on the verse, the first verse and pre-chorus, I love whatever that was. It felt good to me. Like, all I know is when you first started singing, I was like, damn. The hook, it didn’t knock me in the face.”
SHANE: “It feels like it could get bigger for what we’re talking about…it’s a little on the nose.”
ESTER: “We definitely need to work on lyrics. There’s not a rise here and if we talk about this song for something that is so anthemic, then we want to bring some energy to it.”
JOSH VIDA – Covina, California
Counts Ryan Tedder as his biggest influence.
- Original song: “Crazy Enough”
RYAN: “I like the melody. Obviously, it doesn’t apply specifically to the Olympics, but I’m not terribly worried about that.”
BEBE: “This song is really dope. I will tell you, internationally, they would love this…When I first listen to a song, I’m all about the feel. As long as the melodies are good, I know that everything else can be worked around it.”
ESTER: “And Josh, you want to give chills and the first person who has to feel the chills when they hear the song is you.”
After the four songwriters had performed, Bebe narrowed down the four to three:
GREG was paired with Ryan
ANNA was paired with Shane
JOSH was paired with Ester
ALYSSA was eliminated
Anna and Shane worked on refining the hook of “Gold” – the part that gets “stuck in everyone’s head.” They also changed the name to “Bones,” finessed the production and added a choir.
BEBE: “That melody is incredible. When that hook came in, I felt like if I was in the Olympics, that would push me to go faster, go stronger, like believe in myself.”
Josh and Ester pumped up the song to make “Crazy Enough” grittier and anthemic. They reworked the entire song, changing the hook and then changed the name to “Sideline.”
RYAN: “I heard Ester in that song.”
BEBE: “It feels current and young and fresh.”
Greg and Ryan focused on the production of “Miracle.” The new verses leave room for Bebe to improvise.
BEBE: “That chorus is ridiculous. And I love that drop, too.”
SHANE: “I just love the song, Ryan. I think you killed it.”
Typically, the celebrity guest chooses a song at the end of the show, however, Bebe had something else in mind – a mash-up. Bebe asked Anna and Greg to combine their songs, using the verses of “Bones” and the chorus of “Miracle.”
The end results is Bebe Rexha’s “Miracle,” now available wherever you download or stream music. Next week’s Songland celebrity guest is Ben Platt.