As the fan base for NBC’s Songland continues to grow, so does the talent of the aspiring songwriters eager to get their work in front of writer/producers Ester Dean, Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder, along with the week’s celebrity guest. But just because these contestants are still developing their careers doesn’t mean that they aren’t incredibly talented.
And that talent surely wasn’t unnoticed by Julia Michaels, who was the celebrity guest on May 11. “I love the idea of basically being a part of a writing session with some of the best songwriters ever,” Julia said. “I’m hoping to hear something that feels like me. Raw and emotional, but still kind of quirky and fun.” She also said, “I love the idea of giving someone the opportunity to be seen and be heard because I’ve been there.”
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.
KEEGAN BOST – Gadsden, Alabama
- Original song: “Glad You Came” – about taking your shot
SHANE: “Your joy is contagious.”
RYAN: “Your melodies are nuts.
JULIA: “That middle part in the hook, it makes me sad when it doesn’t keep going… I think this song is so awesome. I don’t know if I could see myself singing something like this lyrically… Freaking amazing melody, just different words.”
ESTER: “Bring some feminine into it. Bring some sexy.”
JENNA LOTTI – Milton, Massachusetts
- Original song: “Sad Girls” – wrote it for herself, but wanted it to be an anthem for other people
JULIA: “Super, super cool. Like, honestly, that genetics line is just sitting with me so hard. And the amount of times I think about that nature versus nurture aspect of life, it’s just so deep. That’s in there for good.”
ESTER: “This is the thing, music is to bring us to say, ‘you’re not alone here and this is how you can cope.’ So, I think that always bring a moment where it’s your duty to lift us back up, ‘cause you did it.”
SHANE: “Your melody at the top of the chorus is such a payoff…I really think you have something extraordinary here.”
JEREMY SHAYNE – Beirut, Lebanon
- Original song: “Too Late” – about begging a girl to take him back
SHANE: “Is anyone else instantly feeling like – ‘Yeah, I’m still missing you and all the things we do’ – that did not happen enough. It was so good. That felt like a classic moment.”
JULIA: “It’s really just small changes that I think need to be done, like the cadence of the pre-chorus just so it’s not so straight. Just like a little bit more movement.”
DAN BURKE – East Haddam, Connecticut
Original song: “Numb”
ESTER: “Those melodies are really strong
JULIA: “I like the start of your chorus a lot. For me, this is something a lot of people think and a lot of people feel all the time…It’s very personal to you, so I’d have to find a way to make that personal to me…I also feel like you can just imagine like a music video Everything’s just sort of chaos around you. You’re just moving at your own pace, but you feel like nothing feels right.”
SHANE: “That’s when you feel like you go into the slow motion.”
Following the performances, Julia’s picks were:
KEEGAN paired with Ryan
JENNA paired with Shane
DAN paired with Ester
JEREMY was eliminated
JENNA’s collaboration with Shane became an anthem for a community of girls.
SHANE: “I had the extreme privilege of being paired with Jenna and this song.”
JULIA: “You really took that to a new place. You really killed it.”
DAN’s collaboration with Ester changed the verses to be more observant.
DAN: “My goal is to tell the story the right way.”
JULIA: “That production was like wow! And you completely brought that to life.”
KEEGAN’s collaboration with Ryan required a lyrical overhaul to make it more applicable to Julia. Also changed production and brought in a female vocalist to perform it while Keegan played guitar.
JULIA: “I love this. I think I would still probably change them (lyrics), but that’s the best thing that the show lets you have this kind of creativity and you can change things and mix it up and then you guys can take it and give it a whole new life, too, with me. It’s awesome.”
Julia chose Keegan’s song, “Glad You Came,” to record.