Songland season 2 continues tonight on NBC featuring pop singer and former The Voice mentor Bebe Rexha. 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. The group will then choose one song to record.
Everything you need to know about tonight’s episode featuring Bebe Rexha:
Here’s the crazy thing about tonight’s show. NBC filmed the episode before Covid-19 shut just about everything down, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In the episode, Bebe is looking for a song to represent the Tokyo Games. NBC meant for the show to serve as a nice little plug for the event, previously scheduled to air this summer on the network. Maybe Bebe can still use the song if the games happen next summer, as planned.
NOTE: DON’T miss the major TWIST at the end!
FYI: Shane McAnally is responsible for that ubiquitous song “Meant to Be” Bebe released with Florida Georgia Line. Thanks a lot Shane. Additionally, Bebe has written songs for other artists. She and Ester co-wrote “Hey Mama” for Nicki Minaj and David Guetta.
The Artists Pitch their Songs
Greg Scott – Miracle – The son of a musician, Greg’s songs have been featured on VH1 and the Netflix series YOU. The song is about working hard, perseverance, never giving up etc. etc. The lyrics are cliched. But considering what Bebe is looking for, that’s probably a plus. Bebe calls the chorus A+. The panel also loves the chorus, but aren’t sold on the verses. The panel wants to rewrite the song around what they consider a killer hook. Bebe and Ryan begin an on the spot re-write. She’s so excited, Bebe kicks off a dance party. And after Greg leaves the room, Bebe grabs the mic to sing a few bars. She’s VERY ENTHUSIASTIC.
Alyssa Newton – Made for Something – Alyssa grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. At 18 she moved to Nashville to study music at Belmont University. She comes from a family of attorneys. The song is about believing you have purpose, and having the confidence to live it out. If Bebe doesn’t record the song, maybe American Idol or The Voice can use it as a winners song. These Olympic tunes are all destined to be “inspirational.” The song has a bland melody, unfortunately. Bebe loves the sentiment and message. But she wants more. “Dark, in an anthemic way.” In other words, she’s calling it weak sauce, while trying to be constructive. Shane begins re-writing the lyrics with Bebe, making it “grittier.” Ester calls the song “too happy.” She wants more contrast between the lyrics and the melody.
Anna Graceman – Gold – Now 20 years old, Anna was a contestant on America’s Got Talent season 6 in 2011. Only 11 years old, she belted out Alicia’s Keys “I Ain’t Got You” while accompanying herself on piano. From Juno, Alaska, Anna has been writing songs since the age of 6. Her composition, aptly titled Gold, is about getting back up after a fall and “chasing your dreams.” Hm. This song sounds so familiar. But maybe she’s just good at writing songs that mimic what’s currently popular on pop radio. She’s the best singer tonight, so far. Bebe loves the verses. But the hook didn’t “knock me in the face.” Shane rewrites the lyrics so they’re less “on the nose” (another way of saying cliched). Ester asks for a “grimier” sound. She adds an organ, while Ryan adds a new beat.
Josh Vida – Crazy Enough – He’s a huge Ryan Tedder stan. This is the least coronation-ish of the songs presented. It’s a love song about following romance to the ends of the earth. “I’ll die for your love” is a lyric. Ryan notes that the song doesn’t apply specifically to the Olympics, but he’s OK about that. Sure, he can just take the hook and re-write the whole song. That’s his favorite thing to do, amiright. Heh. Bebe and Ryan agree that the tempo needs to be quicker. The idea is to make it more anthemic, and less ballady.
Bebe Rexha makes her choice
Greg Scott, Anna Graceman and Josh Vida move on to the producer round. Unsurprisingly, Alyssa Newton is eliminated. Bebe calls her voice incredible, and assures Alyssa that because the song isn’t a good fit, doesn’t mean it’s not a good song.
Shane McAnally produces Anna Graceman – Shane explains why they have to change the hook. Bebe just didn’t like it. They used the original chord progression, but added heavy drums and guitars. Shane and Anna work hard on the lyrics to “tell a story.”
Ester Dean produces Josh Vida – Ester loves the melodies and hears a strong hook. But she plans to “pump up” the song to make it “motivational.” That means taking out all the doubt and negativity. “We have to make a vibe for Bebe,” Ester says.
Ryan Tedder produces Greg Scott – Bebe loved his chorus. Ryan notes that inspirational songs can become cliched very quickly. He simplifies the melodies on the verse, and changes the production on the track, completely. He rocks it up, OneRepublic style.
The Artists present their newly produced songs
Anna Graceman – Bones – Since “Gold” was a lyric in the dreaded hook, the song is now called “Bones.” The new song has a darker sound and a choir. The new lyrics are less on the nose, and the arrangement is more rock and soul, less pop. Shane definitely improved the song. Bebe loves the new hook.
Josh Vida – Sideline – Another title change. Coco will perform the song, which sounds completely different from the original. The new version is a dark, gritty rock song and has nothing to do with undying love. Now it’s about going to any lengths to meet a goal. Bebe thinks it sounds current and young. I preferred the original, but it had to be revamped to fit the Olympics theme. So, oh well!
Greg Scott – Miracle – Ryan tapped season 1 contestant Sam Derosa to sing lead on the song. The chorus is the same, but set in a heavier arrangement. Ryan added a drop to modernize the sound. Bebe loves it. Out of the three, “Miracle” changed the least.
Afterward, Bebe makes a bold BOLD decision. She will take TWO SONGS AND MELD THEM Y’ALL. She wants to use “Bones” lyrics and melody as a lead in to the chorus from “Miracle”. Shane calls it “next level” songwriting.
After the three songwriters are assembled, Bebe explains that “Nobody really saw this coming” and that what she’s about to do has never happened on the show before. She explains her song mashing concept to the songwriters, before announcing that “Bones” and “Miracle” are the two winning songs that will become one.
Bebe says it was hard to choose between the two songs. “I absolutely loved the verse on Bones,” she explains, “But I just couldn’t give up the hook of Miracles.” So why not take them both!
First ever for Songland: Bebe chooses the verse of Anna Graceman’s “Bones” and the chorus and title of Greg Scott’s “Miracle.” Two songs become ONE.
Next Monday: Ben Platt