Songland season 2 continues tonight on NBC featuring singer-songwriter Julia Michaels. In the episode, songwriters will pitch their compositions to the the guest artist and the panel. Afterward, songwriter/producers Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnally and Ester Dean work with the artists. Julia will then choose one song to record.
Everything you need to know about tonight’s episode featuring Julia Michaels:
“I love the idea of basically being part of a writing session,” says Julia. She has never had anyone write a song for her. She’s looking for a song that’s raw and emotional, but also quirky and fun.
The Artists Pitch their Songs
Keegan Bost – Glad You Came – A Gadsden, Alabama native, Keegan has been songwriting since 14. The 20 year old is the worship pastor at Cornerstone Church. The song is about meeting a girl’s eye across the room, and taking a chance on her. He sent a couple of songs in to Songland producers, and he can’t believe he’s there. He’s not a pro, which is rare on this show. Keegan has a sweet tenor voice, and writes a decent hook. Ryan calls his melodies “nuts.” Julia wants the melody to be be more “boppy.” They up the tempo. “Bring some sexy, feminine into it,” Ester suggests. Julia likes the song? But the lyrics will need to be completely re-written. When a song needs a lot of work, that’s usually a bad sign. We’ll see if they like the melodies enough for the song to make the cut.
Jenna Lotti – Sad Girls – Originally from Milton, Massachusetts, Janna started writing poetry, eventually crafting her words into song. She is open about her struggles with anxiety and depression. She moved out to LA two years ago with her husband. She wrote the song for herself, but with an eye to anthemic themes. Julia immediately takes to Jenna’s vibe. The song is a little cliched. We’ve heard this song before, as far as the theme is concerned. Julia plucks out a line that she REALLY likes, but they tweak it a little more. An additional word can make a big difference. Shane loves the melody at the top of the chorus so much, he doesn’t want to give it away immediately. “I really think you have something extraordinary here,” he says. We previewed this performance HERE.
Jeremy Shayne – Too Late – Jeremy emigrated to the U.S. from Beirut, Lebanon at 3 years old. He has written recorded and produced his own songs. He’s garnered over 5 million streams on Spotify. Despite the success online, he works two jobs–ridesharing and babysitting–to make ends meet. The song is about romantic regrets. I wasn’t sold initially, but the chorus is catchy. Ryan loves the chords. Shane picks out the classic moments. The pre-chorus in particular grabs the group’s attention. Ryan plays around with the melody a little. Julia thinks the song only needs small changes.
Dan Burke – Numb – Dan grew up in East Haddam, Conn. and currently lives in Los Angeles, Calif. He fronts the band Twenty love. The song is a “wakeup call” to pay attention to the world around him. This is my least favorite of the four songs. I don’t hear a hook. Julia likes the start of the chorus. She notes that the song seems very personal to him. They’ll have to tinker with the lyrics. She also suggests adding more synths. Ryan calls it “different and weird in a cool way.”
Julia Michaels Makes her choice
Jenna Lotti, Dan Burke, Keegan Bost will advance to the producer sessions. Jeremy Shayne is eliminated. Julia thinks the song needs too many changes. Later, she admits that she feels the song was “too familiar.” Interesting, because she said in the room that the song would only need small changes. Keegan on the other hand, is through even though the group agreed that the entire lyric would need a rewrite.
Ester Dean produces “Numb” with Dan Burke – Ester thinks the song needs to breathe. It’s bouncy, but the lyrics are sad. She wants to make it simple, refine the lyrics, add a drop. Dan and Ester work together on the lyrics. Julia is such a gifted songwriter, says Ester, that the goal is to make the song a proper starting point for her.
Shane McAnally produces “Sad Girls” with Jenna Lotti – Julia related to Jenna’s story, so Shane wants to transform it into a rousing anthem. He changes the lyrics to make it more “Julia Michaels.” Shane hates starting a song with the chorus. Hooks should be saved as a payoff, he says.
Ryan Tedder produces Glad You Came with Keegan Bost – Ryan gets to work on overhauling the lyrics. “You have to trust the process,” he says. Ryan plays some chords for Keegan. He’s doing all the heavy lifting here, as Keegan is the greenest of all the songwriters.
The Artists present their newly produced songs
Jenna Lotti – Sad Girls – The lyrics still strike me as trite and sophomoric. Shane actually added the line “This is my party and I’m going to cry if I want to.” Hm. The chorus is the best part of the song.
Dan Burke – Numb – A new arrangement is a big improvement. The changes Ester and Dan employ make the song more coherent and hooky. Ester suggested adding a drop after “I hate that I’m so numb” and it works beautifully.
Keegan Bost – Give it To You – Ryan brought in a female vocalist to perform the completely rewritten tune. It’s got a new title, too. Keegan accompanies her on guitar. Ryan basically used the melody to write a different song. They loved the melody that much. It is pretty great. Julia would change the lyrics even more.
The songwriters gather together in front of the group. She loves all of the songs, but only one “really sounded like Moi.” Julia chooses Keegan Bost’s song! He’s the least experienced of the four songwriters. He lives in small town Alabama with his wife. For him, it’s a pretty huge break. Julia says she wanted to do Ryan and Keegan’s song because “it just felt different and fun and still emotional.” She thought it was really cool that they took her notes. The process felt like a “real collaboration” to her.
Julia Michaels picks Keegan Bost’s “Give it To You” Listen to it here.