Because we do not have enough singing competitions on TV (American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, The Sing-Off, America’s Got Talent partially…) it was time to have a new one. This one, on Bravo, attempts to put its own spin on the competition by making it geared towards singer-songwriters rather than singers. It is more about writing songs than being particularly good at singing them. Each week they are given a particularly genre and/or subject for which they must compose a song.
Jewel, as host, takes after Padma of Top Chef and Heidi Klum on Project Runway–every line is delivered as a stiff statement off fact. It almost looks like she needed to be specially taught how to enunciate for this gig.
Like with all Bravo TV competitions, we meet the competitors as they drag their luggage around (in this case into the Songwriters Hall of Fame), meet each other, and talk about how awesome they are and how determined they are to win. One is a self-proclaimed leader of men. One competitor, named Blessing, is blind and has a seeing eye dog.
Jewel comes in and lets them know that maybe one or two of them will ever make it into the Hall of Fame. She also explains that the songwriting will happen in two parts–first the hook then the rest. The winner will receive $100,000, a publishing deal with Sony, and a recording deal with RCA Jive.
For the first competition, they must write a hook for a song about LA in 30 minutes. inspiration varies from the reasons people come to LA to sunglasses (could fit in with a Glee original song–we had “My Headband” and “My Cup”, why not “My Sunglasses”?) to homeless men.
Judging time brings in Kara DioGuardi, the judge no one liked from American Idol. To be fair, I didn’t dislike her the way other people did. I thought she generally knew what she was talking about and gave better critique than the others. Plus, she has written an obscene number of hits so she is appropriate here.
Scotty– (Jordin Spark’s creative director) “No One” not bad, not amazing
Johnny– “Lost in Los Angeles” also ok
Sonyae– “Love It or Hate It” Kara seems to like, meh
Blessing– “Smile for Me LA” this one is sweet
Amber– “LA with Me Tonight” ok
Jackie– “City of Dreams” fave so far
Melissa– Hawaiian chick “Our Town” doesn’t get far before messing up so…yeah
Jes– “Fake” pretty good
Brian– “City of Make-Believe” (people not feeling good about LA huh?) I liked
Karen– “Southern Spice” Huh?
Nevin– “You’ll Never Be My Home” depressing and not catchy. oh, and Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.”
Nick– “My City” not bad but not amazing.
4- Jackie (catchy)
3- Scotty (good emotion)
2- Nick (crafty)
1- Sonyae (high energy)
The winners get to choose their teams for the next part which is to work in groups of three and create a song around the winning hooks. (Apparently writing a hit song is rarely a solo adventure, explaining why they are being grouped up.) They can modify the hooks but that is their starting point.
- Sonyae- Blessing and Amber. Team Sonyae decide to just have Sonyae perform because they don’t think they can sell it. Sonyae realizes she should hav chosen her team more carefully because their genres are so different.
- Nick- Jes and Karen. Nick is full of himself and his awesomeness. (“Jes and Karen should be thankful hat I chose them.”)
- Scotty- Brian and Nevin Not showing LA much love. Nevin can’t give much but cliche.
- Jackie- Johnny and Melissa. Melissa cannot focus and ends up being distracting.
Team Nick is up first with “My City”. I don’t love the girls’ voices, they’re a bit shrill, but after that it is pretty solid. I could listen to it.
Team Jackie comes second with “City of Dreams” which I find a little easier to listen to. I like Jackie’s voice (though it would be better with a better singer) and the song is definitely one I would put on my iPod.
Team Scotty is third with “No One Again” and they put on a melodramatic performance. Not awful but not great either.
Team Sonyae/just Sonyae is last with “Love It or Hate It” and does not manage to maintain the high energy of the hook challenge.
Team Jackie and Team Nick are called up in one group and told they are the top two teams. Only one team can win and that team is Nick’s.
Team Sonyae and Team Scotty are the bottom. Sonyae’s team is safe because of their melody in the hook. Otherwise, boo your song sucked. Meanwhile Scotty’s was alienating. Ultimately, Nevin is considered the weakest link and goes home.
The funny thing about this show is that there are two other judges but we only really hear Jewel (the host) and Kara (head judge) speak. I can’t even say who the other two are. EW seems to think that the songwriters have songs already thought out and just plug new lyrics into them and while that might be true I don’t mind, since once they collaborate things get changed anyway. I imagine on Project Runway the contestants have some ideas before starting the show.
I’m not sure how much I liked this show. It does feel different than the other singing shows (no auditions for one thing) and the emphasis on the writing is interesting. This seems like a difficult system to have to write songs in but they do seem to have some talent in the group.