The new music competition Songland continues tonight on NBC. Songwriters compete to have their tune recorded by that week’s mega-artist. Tonight, it’s The Voice UK coach and Black Eyed Pea will.iam. Songwriter/producers Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnally and Ester Dean will help the contestants bring their ideas to life.
Will.i.am, tonight’s mega-artist, is looking for a hit for his group Black Eyed Peas.
Josh Logan – Boxes – No NOT the Josh Logan who competed on The Voice season 5. THIS Josh Logan is from New York and writes mostly pop country. He was working in marketing and management, where he felt very “boxed” in. He’s married with a kid and one on the way. We previewed this session. Click the link above! The tune is a little sing-songy. Shane helps tweak the lyrics. Ryan thinks the chorus is a little cutesy and Ester wants to ditch the “na nas.” They are all correct. Will begins producing right on the spot, with the help of the house drummer and Ester keeping the beat. The session ends with a dance party! Josh can’t believe it. Ha.
Charisma – Invincible – She’s a 19 year old, born and raised in India. She moved to Los Angeles in 2014 with her brother. The song is all about spreading love and compassion. She thinks it’s anthemic like “Where is the Love.” She has a sultry voice and the song has a nice hook. Will liked the chorus, but felt some of the words were “too on the nose.” The verses are weak, he thinks. Ryan suggests a few melody changes.
Adam Friedman – Be Nice – Adam is 28 years old, from Phoenix. When he was younger, he had trouble reading and writing. Hooked on Phoenix helped him learn to produce. He wrote the song, responding to the stressed out world around him. The song is clever, but has a novelty feel. There’s some funk and some rapping. It’s got a nice groove. Will calls it “a bumper sticker, a t shirt.” Hm. That’s the problem with it, I think. Will would keep it “all about the bass.” The band demonstrates. Shane and Ryan play along on their acoustic guitars! “There are some really awesome bones in that,” Will says. He calls it “Boat rock.” Also, not a ringing endorsement. Adam has already had plenty of TV exposure. Radio personality Elvis Duran chose him as an Artist of the Month and he sang his song “Lemonade” with Mike Posner on the Today’s Kathie Lee & Hoda show. Check out the “Lemonade” music video on Vevo. According to his Facebook, he sang one of his songs “What If” on ABC’s The Bachelor back in 2017.
Ray Goren – Oh Lord – He’s an 18 year old from New York City. He’s written his “whole life.” He skipped college and has been touring the country. “At the end of the world we’re all one,” he says. He wants to change the world like Bob Dylan or the Beatles. The song is a ballady rap. He’s a decent wordsmith. He sings the chorus. His voice is startlingly gospel-ly. “I didn’t know that was coming,” says Will. Ryan thinks it should be personalized, instead of preachy. He changes the verse into first person. Ray is an instrumentalist as well. In a Guitar World interview, they call him a “teenage guitar star.”
Will has to pick three songwriters to work with the producers. He chooses Josh Logan, Adam Friedman and Charisma to advance on the show. It’s a NO for Ray Goren. But still a yes! Will wants to work with Ray on the song outside of the show. They’ll go into the studio together, with Will appearing as a feature. That could be a better deal. He claims that the song is so good, he doesn’t want to “suck it away” from Ray like a “vampire.”
Charisma is working with Ryan Tedder. The chorus melody is kept the same, but Will comes up with a new verse. Josh Logan and Shane McAnally collaborate. He thinks the verse “could be really long” and he usually doesn’t think that. They make some changes to make the chorus less sing-songy. Adam Friedman is working with Ester Dean. Will calls in with his changes to the song. It’s the kind of tune a crowd sings along with, Shane says about “Boxes.” Will mentions getting kids to sing the chorus. Ugh.
Will has been incredibly hands on, re-writing parts of all three songs. Basically, Peas-izing them.
Charisma – Invincible – Will’s rap replaced the pre-chorus. Ryan is joining Charisma to perform it! This song is so different from the original. It still retains an Indian feel, and the chorus is completely intact. But the beat is much cooler. “It flows right, it flows natural,” says Will.i.am.
Josh Logan – Boxes – The re-worked song is less obnoxiously sing-songy. The kids singing on the chorus brings it right back to nursery rhyme time, however. “A lot of those lyrics changed an hour ago,” admits Shane. Josh has a lot on his plate–his daughter is due to be born today.
Adam Friedman – Be Nice – Adam admits the song has changed substantially. Rather than being chipper, it’s much subtler now. The song is less gimmicky sounding. But it’s still cliched. Will wants to make MORE changes. Will thinks the chorus opened up, but the energy was sucked out of the room on the verse. He gets up to perform his new idea. Ester says they purposely left it open for his changes. “It’s about collaboration,” she gushes.
Time to choose. All three songwriters are called into the room. Will chooses Adam Friedman’s “Be Nice.” But wait. HE CHOOSES ALL THREE SONGS. He’s going to pull 3 songs off of the upcoming Peas album to make room for tonight’s songs. So “Be Nice” wins tonight, but all three songs will appear on his Black Eyed Peas album.
“Be Nice” has a music video and everything! The finished song features Snoop Dogg
This Songland episode with will.i.am was akin to an Oprah Winfrey show where everybody gets a car. YOU get a cut on my album! So do you AND YOU DO TOO! And YOU get YOUR song recorded with production and a feature by ME!
Each of the four songwriters got something. Adam Friedman got the song recorded right away by the Peas, with a music video and Snoop Dogg feature. But Charisma and Josh Logan’s songs will eventually be on the Peas album too. Will claims that he’s taking three songs off the finished Peas album to make way for all 3 of the contestant’s originals.
The fourth songwriter, Ray Goren, who was eliminated early in the show, will keep his song. However, Will will produce it in the studio and add a feature. Everybody wins! In fact, Ray’s “Oh Lord” is already up on iTunes.
Next week: Kelsea Ballerini.