Songland season 2 continues tonight on NBC featuring country group Florida Georgia Line. 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. FGL will then choose one song to record.
Everything you need to know about tonight’s episode featuring Florida Georgia Line:
Florida Georgia Line have 3 of the Top 5 songs of all time. Ryan calls the duo, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard “killer songwriters” who not only write hits for themselves, but others as well. The duo love the concept of Songland. “Ultimately we’re songwriters at heart. That’s our number one passion.” The two are looking for a song with “energy.”
The Artists Pitch their Songs
Shawn Austin – Ain’t Going Nowhere – The Vancouver Canada based country artist first experienced success charting singles up north in Canada. His 2019 single “What Do I Know” was co-written by American Idol 15 winner Trent Harmon. He played sports in high school, but eventually found his real love, music. He describes the song as R&B flavored, with a driving beat. The song sounds very much like an FGL song. Will they choose a song so “on the nose.” Or are they looking for something a little different? Brian compliments the lyrics and melody, but is still looking for the hook. Shane says he’s heard the lyrics before. “We’ve got to get to what “I ain’t going nowhere” means, or we got to change that title. The panel pick out parts of the song they DO like, as they tinker with the lyrics. Ryan plays a guitar riff. The group is tweaking this song quite a bit.
Lukr – Hopes High – He started writing songs as a kid “plunking out melodies on the $80 second-hand family piano.” The song is about “failure,” Lukr says. He believes his cross genre vibe will appeal to FGL. He admits that he’s not a country songwriter. Considering FGL pride themselves on crossover, he’s probably not wrong. Lukr presents a song that could easily be tweaked into a semi-country song with crossover appeal. The original is kind of a bummer though. Shane calls the song “amazing.” Tyler instantly relates to the song, calling it “fresh.” The group begins tweaking the melody. In the lyrics, Brian is looking for an action that he can take, a revelation. Yes, making the song more hopeful. Shane toys with the tempo–Lukr sings along.
Victoria Banks – That’s a Country Song – The forty-seven year old Canadian singer-songwriter released her first album, When You Can Fly, in 2009. She wrote the song “City of Dreams” in the wake of the 2010 Nashville floods. She majored in Zoology in college. But she followed her heart, ending up in Nashville writing country songs. She’s pandering big time to the duo with a song she says was inspired by the pushback the duo received after they released their first hit single. FGL has been criticized for bringing non-country elements like hip hop into country songs. Self-referential country songs like “This is Country” make my eyes roll. Shane calls her “the real deal.” The panel play around with the melodies and a bit with the lyrics to make it even more anthemic.
Griffen Palmer – Second Guessing – Hailing from a small town outside Toronto, Canada, Griffen co-wrote the Keith Urban song “Polaroid,” produced by FGL producer Joey Moi. His dad played in bar bands. Griffen is a multi-instrumentalist. The song has a Ryan Adams vibe. The title is a play on words employing a deliberately misleading twist, which the duo appreciates. “Every woman wants to hear a man say those words,” says Ester. Shane admits that for the first time in two seasons, he’s mad at a hook. Tyler wants to change the phrasing a bit, while Ryan wants to add more time references. “Long story short, we can work with you,” says Tyler.
Florida Georgia Line make their choice choice
Shawn Austin, Griffen Palmer and Lukr advance. Victoria Banks is eliminated. She is the most experienced songwriter of the quartet, but the duo explain that a song about a song is a hard one to write.
Ester Dean produces Shawn Austin – FGL says don’t be afraid to “take it all the way down to the bones.” Ester does her thing, re-arranging components that are already there.
Shane McAnally produces Griffen Palmer – Shane gets to work on that hook he’s mad at. Heh. He’s convinced the song will be a huge smash. But he thinks listeners will grow weary of the initial hook, and will need another to “keep us listening,” he says. FGL wants to take out the alcohol references, because the song sounds like a “wedding song.” Shane disagrees, but notes that “we would rather it be suited for them.” The lesson here: Songwriters got to swallow their pride.
Ryan Tedder produces Lukr – FGL wants the duo to take the best bits in the song and flesh it out. Ryan decides to do a complete rewrite of the lyrics and melody, as he is wont to do. Only the main riff will remain. Ryan changes chords from minor to major. The original song was kind of a downer. Lukr plays a mean mouth horn!
The Artists present their newly produced songs
Griffen Palmer – Second Guessing This version is more twangy. I liked the original better, but musically, it’s now a better fit for FGL. The melody retains its original sweetness. That’s a good thing. Shane is so proud of the song, he looks like he’s about to cry!
Shawn Austin – Lean On – Everything about this song changed. It doesn’t even sound like the same tune. It’s very R&B. I guess FGL will add a few twangy guitar and call it a day? “It got Esterized!” says Shawn.
Lukr – What You’re Putting Down – The new version of the song isn’t such a dirge. The chorus has a ton more energy. “It’s an anthem love jam!” Shane calls it “a big transformation.”
The writers wait for the results! FGL feels all three songs are worthy, “You three guys are just getting started. But the song they ultimately choose is Griffen Palmer and Shane McAnally’s “Second Guessing.” The duo think Griffen is “super talented.” I noted above that FGL’s producer worked on a song, “Polaroid,” that Griffen co-wrote for Keith Urban. Hm.