Platinum Hit: Finale

From twelve songwriters, we have dwindles down to three: Scotty, Jes, and Sonyae. It is still pretty surprising that Nick is not around, despite how repetitive his songs tend to sound.

Scotty thinks Sonyae is his biggest competition for her lyrics. Sonyae thinks Scotty is her competition. Jess thinks she has better melodies and key changes.

This week’s challenge: write your biggest hit. They have two days to write and then they will go into the studio with a band, backup singers, and experienced exec Evan “Kidd” Boggart to record. Then they will perform in front of “industry insiders.”

Sonyae struggles because she doesn’t play an instrument and can’t find inspiration. Religion maybe? (For some reason she goes to ask Scotty for advice. He doesn’t love it because he has issues with religion.) Or Capacity? (He likes this one better.) Evan likes the title “Love You Like My Religion” but she struggles on the religion.

Jes starts writing about her last relationship who she stills cares for. He doesn’t see his potential… (I think her life is so much less inspirational than everyone else.) She is advised to connect to others instead of being so interior–how can everyone relate to it?

Scotty meanwhile wishes for some boundaries. After talking to Sonyae, he thinks about religion and being shunned for being gay, which gets him very emotional. Scotty’s has the strongest positive feedback but he needs to make sure to “go there.”

They work out the kinks in their studio session. Sonyae’s is particularly impressive, considering that she came in with no actual music.

The guest judge for the finale is Leona Lewis. The room is crowded but most exciting for the contestants is their parents.

Up first is Jes with “Come Alive.” You can see Nick incredulous and Jackie supportive. The judges are nodding along (as is Johnny) which is all that really matters.

Scotty is second with “Beautiful You.” His song makes the judges smile with more head bopping.

Finally comes Sonyae with her song “My Religion.” It’s a very Beyonce song.

Now for the judging:
Jes is told her lyrics are her strongest yet. Leona thinks it has a lot of crossover appeal. Very commercial and melodic though Keith Naftali thought the “Come Alive” concept was okay. Jewel shows some ways she could tweak it even more.

Scotty‘s song had great sentiment. Jewel would have liked more streamlining. But it is a great melody and he has become contemporary. Naftali calls him the maestro of melody. It felt too similar to “Just the Way You Are” though.

Sonyae had yet another great concept, which is her strength. It was sing-a-long-able. Melodically, she is not the strongest contestant. They wanted the chorus to go up, as Kara demonstrates.

(This is some of the best judging we have seen all show. The judges demonstrated the improvements and the songs sounded better with their stronger voices too.)

Once they talk without the contestants they decide Jes has the most crossover appeal, Sonyae has the most sophisticated concepts, and Scotty is a melody machine and key collaborator. (PS- while Jewel looks the best she has looked all season, Kara looks ridiculous in a shiny maroon suit.)

Time to find out the winner. Scotty is booted out first (with kind words from all on his future). The winner is…Sonyae. (Once it was down to her and Jes there was little chance of another outcome.)

Platinum Hit: Episode 9

After a couple of weeks of surprising eliminations, things are winding down. Nick wants Jes to go. Scotty wants to win so he can have the most wins. This week’s guest judge is Perez Hilton. The hook challenge is to write a pure pop song. (Nick likes to pretend he writes pop.) Sonyae thinks she and Scotty are each others’ biggest competitions because their skills complement each other.

Jes– “So See Through” (about being judges), not as fun as expected
Scotty– “DJ Have My Babies” melody could be a hit
Sonyae– “Exit” (about guys doing something wrong) has attitude and personality but lacks melody
Nick– “Boom Boom Boom” Hanson or Jonas appropriate but what is it about

How did they do?
4- Nick, lyrics didn’t make sense
3- Jes, unmemorable
2- Sonyae
1- Scotty

For the first time, the songwriters will be writing alone. The judge will be…high school cheerleaders.

The writers are hard at work when Kara shows up to check in. To Scotty she tells him to think about a bunch of stuff regarding his song, which makes him second guess it. For Nick, Kara tells him strengthen the hook. Sonyae has a strong concept but she struggles with the melody. Jes has good melodies but is hit or miss with the lyrics. Kara leaves everyone a bit terrified and fervently rewriting.

Performance time. They go to a high school full of students. Taio Cruz is also there for judging, in addition to the high schoolers.

Nick- “My Mistake”
The response to this seems pretty good. A group of kids get up to dance in the middle.

Jes- “See Through”
Nick is not pleased to find that people are enjoying. Kara on the otherhand seems to be quite happy.

Sonyae- “Exit”
There is less clapping along but the kids seem to enjoy it too. They get into the “pointing to the exit” part and even Kara gets into it.

Scotty- “World’s Last Spin”
The clapping and dancing is pretty quick and the dancing seems to include just about the entire room.

The kids vote and then it is time to face the judges.

  • The kids voted for Sonyae as the best song and the judges agree. Sonyae is the winner, with a catch-phrase.
  • Scotty‘s lyrics are sad but the melody is uplifting, which can corner him.
  • Nick has written his best lyrics yet. It feels honest. The melodies weren’t strong enough though.
  • Jes still needs to tighten up her chorus. Hers sounded the most radio-like. Her song was young, which has been a general problem.

Scotty is quickly sent through to join Sonyae. Only one writer can move forward, will it be Nick or Jes? Jes is safe and will advance to the finale because of the strength of her melody. Nick is surprisingly gracious about his departure.

While I’ve hated Nick for most of this competition, I am shocked that Jes is still around. Do you think the judges made the right decision?

Platinum Hit: Episode 8

As Nick gloats about Johnny’s departure, Jes is upset because though she didn’t know him before the competition, having him around felt like having a piece of home.

Kiss the Flame. That is the letter the contestants find waiting for them just before Jewel arrives to tell them about their challenge. But first, the guest judge, the editor in chief of Spin magazine, Doug Brod. Kiss the Flame is a song of Jewel’s about running towards danger instead of away from it. So the hook challenge is to write a song about empowerment. Like Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” Oh, and they must incorporate the words “kiss the flame.”

Scotty is gay so coming out is empowering. Jess feels like she isn’t taken seriously because she is a girl. Nick thinks today’s empowerment songs are all about women being pissed off. Sonyae has been physically and verbally abused so she intends the song as advice to others in a similar situation. Brian’s mother died of breast cancer and he wants to write about getting over it.

Scotty– “Reign Over Me” clever but potentially confusing
Jes– “Underestimate Me” powerful lyric
Nick– “Kiss the Flame” great grasp on melody
Brian– “The Last Candle” tweak the cliche
Sonyae– “Tomorrow’s Too Late” great job

Top Two:
2- Scotty (interesting concept and intriguing creativity, make sure to get the lyrics right)
1- Brian (blew the others away, nice lyrically and emotionally)

The surprise of the week. The member of the winning team to contribute the most will be featured in Spin.

Brian picks Jes. Scotty picks Sonyae. Brian has the option of taking a third teammate or passing him over. Nick actually wants to work with him but Brian passes because he doesn’t want Nick and Jes together.

Jes and Brian have a heart to heart during their session about being drugged and assaulted. They want to aim for a “Pink” sound. They decide to have Jes sing it even though he wanted to sing it.

Scotty explains that coming out means taking control while staying in the closet means other people are dictating your life.

Team Scotty is up first with “Reign on Me” which comes out as something of a mixed up mess.

Team Brian is second with “The Last Candle” which ends up sounds liking something I would listen to.

Backstage Jes says Team Scotty’s song is a mess. Nick thinks Team Brian’s song is not current.

Cara is glad that Brian and Jes based their song on their true story. At the same time, it needed more growl.

Scotty says the writing session was difficult. Cara thought they miss-worded the chorus/song title. Scotty doesn’t think they succeeded in the song.

The superior and more empowering song is Team Scotty’s. Colbie Callait, guest judge, thought it was catchy. It sounds like each of them contributed something key to the song, making the winner a little trickier. The judges agree that the writer to play the key role in the song’s success is Nick for the melody of the chorus, which he fought for.

Meanwhile, they thought some of the lines were undeveloped and the music was too old. Jes gets emotional when told she should have made Brian help work on the lyrics. Nick goads her backstage.

Ultimately, the judges tell Jes she is save and it is Brian going home.

Platinum Hit: Episode 7

Fresh off their last challenge (with my personal favorite, Jackie, going home) the songwriters are surprised by a new challenged coming without a chance for respite. Jewel is wearing a yellow dress that would be very pretty if only it fit right.

Jewel has them writer their names on a paper. She will pick two names out of a hat at a time to determine the teams. Jes and Scotty, Nick and Johnny, and Brian and Sonyae. Only Johnny seems disappointed. They have two hours to come up with as many hooks as they can.

Not surprisingly, they mostly separate so that each person is really working alone with a bit of input. Jes attempts some sort of rap/Kesha thing that Scotty pretends to like. Only Sonyae and Brian try something different–she writes lyrics while he creates the melody. Unfortunately this does not work so well. Johnny has no interest in talking with Nick so he ignores him as much as possible no matter how much he asks. After two hours, Team Jes and Scotty have 9 hooks (only 2 of which are Jes’s). Sonyae and Brian only come up with one song.

They get news that they have something special. They meet the co-founder of the writing camp that the winner become a part of.

Team Scotty and Jes are asked for a male pop R&B song and Scotty, realizing that Jes will be no help, steps up. He gets some good feedback about it (could be good for Bieber if made slightly younger).

Team Sonyae and Brian are asked for a young female soulful voice. Sonyae does some talking around (because their one song is actually pop) and Brian intends to play it different with the hope that Sonyae can adapt to the change. He ends up liking it but wants them to get bigger in the way that Beyonce’s voice could deliver.

Team Johnny and Nick come in and Nick looks like he’s going to kill him. They learn that Gavin Degraw is actually in the studio writing so they join him. Their challenge is soulful Top 40 that suits Gavin Degraw. Johnny goes first (with Nick glaring at him the whole way). Gavin likes it and then leaves. Nick thought they would both get to go so he is not happy.

Jewel comes to talk to them and says that the team challenge is to take the song pitched and turn it into a full song.

Johnny is concerned about Nick’s inability to adapt his style for Gavin Degraw. (In addition the a general mutual dislike that makes it hard for them to work together.) By the end of their first hour, things are not going anywhere. (However, Nick’s style is fairly similar to Gavin Degraw so Johnny should stop being SO grumpy–and I say this without liking Nick.) Nick blows up at Johnny finally and pretty much steps out of the room.

Sonyae tries to remember the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” but Brian is useless. Despite this, they seem to be making some progress. Since Sonyae doesn’t play an instrument, Brian feels the need to take up the instrument slack.

Scotty wants Jes to be more hip hop/R&B which is unlikely. He thinks she’s the weakest link in the competition which might be true. Scotty feels like he has to pick up the slack for Jes though she doesn’t notice.

Time to face the judges:
Team Scotty and Jess are up first with “Love You Down.” Scotty thinks the song fits for a slightly more grown up Bieber than his first album. The truth is, though I don’t love the song, I can see Justin Bieber singing it.

Team Sonyae and Brian are next with “Stranger to Love.” They wanted to make it a little different for Beyonce by adding a bit of rock to the song. Again I can imagine her singing this, though it doesn’t build the way I would have hoped. (This is another case of knowing Beyonce can do big things with her voice and wishing she did those things more often.)

Team Johnny and Nick are last and Nick remains seated for it. Johnny has even dressed like Degraw for the performance. Their writing consultant from earlier is bopping along to the song and Nick has a smug look that I am unsure how to interpret.

The judges deliberate while Johnny and Nick fight it out. Once they are brought back, Jewel has all three teams come up. Everyone was happy with their teamwork except Nick and Johnny who say this was their worst writing experience ever. One song nailed it this week and the winner is…Brian and Sonyae. They brought emotion and good lyrics.

And the weakest song had no hit potential. That is Nick and Johnny, whose song has no hit potential. Scotty and Jes were sent back with a “good job” and a “not quite a hit.” They think it was Biebs friendly and had a good melody. But not quite hot enough.

They ask if they captured Gavin Degraw’s style but Nick says he wasn’t involved at all. Nick provides his own possibility and says he was ignored. Nick gets dirty. They are told that the song was a lyrical cesspool. The judges end up disgusted and Kara says they have shown the ugliest in each of them. They let their egos get in the way. Ultimately, Nick is safe and Johnny is sent home. Johnny looks shocked.

Nick goes backstage and acts like a jerk. Everyone is as surprised, even the judges who thought Johnny could win. Nick goes as far as to give Johnny a final scolding with a compliment buried inside.

Platinum Hit: Episode 6

Finally Melissa is gone and now the real competition can get started. You know what I mean…

Kara meets the writers outside. (No Jewel?) Today the hook challenge is all about risk. They have to perform their hook in the promenade. The winner is whoever ends up with the most money at the end of the day. In all fairness, location is as important as a good song. Jes’s risk is continuing in the competition. Umm Jes, this isn’t a risk. Nick quite his job in favor of pursuing his writing. Sonyae feels disadvantaged without having an instrument. There is also an advantage in being the first person performing. Plus there’s the whole cuteness factor)

Jackie– Say It Back
Scotty– Melt
Jes– Save Yourself
Sonyae– Jumping out the Window (aaah)
Johnny– Bettin’ My Life on You (had people singing along)
Brian– Heart in Your Hands
Nick– Risky Business (his music sounds the same all the time)

Top 3-
3- Jes- 14% of earnings (cut meandering)
2- Johnny- 27% of earnings (relate-able)
1-Jackie- 43% of the earnings (make the lyrics a bit more interesting)

Picking the teams:
Jackie takes Scotty and, at his recommendation, Sonyae (who has immunity from last week). Johnny picks Brian. Jes selects Nick.

The teams must complete the song but not in the genre it was written in. Jackie’s team opts for country. Johnny’s team picks reggae. Jes’s team goes with pop. (Jackie thinks she should have taken R&B considering her team, but I think going out of the most obvious genre is more impressive.)

Nick thinks Jes’s song has miles of work to do because it has a boring feel. Meanwhile Johnny and Brian have a hard time focusing. With team Jackie, Scotty refuses to take a backseat to Jackie. Sonyae thinks country is about bacon and eggs. Scotty becomes so immersed in writing the track he all but shuts out his team.

The guest judge this week is Bonnie McKee of Teenage Dream and California Girls fame.

Team Jes– “Save Yourself,” pop, the song sounds much better than it sounded in their session though Nick’s background is only different in so far as its electric guitar instead of acoustic.
Team Johnny– “Bettin’ My Life On You,”
reggae, I don’t like reggae so I have a hard time judging this.
Team Jackie– “Say It Back,” country, the song seems to have the judges grooving and Nick yawning obnoxiously.

Team Johnny and Team Jackie are called up to the stage first. one team took a bunch of risks that paid off. That team is Johnny and Brian, who have won the challenge. Kara loved the melody and lyrics.

Team Jes joins Team Jackie onstage. Jewel points out that Team Jes did not write a pop song. It has to be easy to understand. The judges keep expecting something to happen with Nick but he seems to be all talk. Jewel loves country music but thought their lyrics were disappointing. Team Jackie is…the bottom song.

Didn’t expect that. Jackie and Scotty are in the bottom two, with Sonyae safe. Kara wants to know why they picked country rather than R&B. The judges felt like there was no country feeling. So this is one of those questions–worse for doing something bad or doing nothing at all. They didn’t explain enough and used an urban phrase. Scotty and Jackie fight over ownership of the song (which is interesting considering that the judges didn’t like it). Scotty says he rewrote the entire melody and Jackie didn’t write any of it.

The judges have deliberated and unfortunately one of them will be going home. Jackie’s lyrics did not strike an emotional cord or tell the story. Scotty didn’t contribute to the key part of a country song. Ultimately, it is Jackie going home.

Jackie gets some good feedback before being told to pack her things. Jes seems genuinely sad for her but no one else seems to care. Though Nick (surprisingly) instigates a group hug which is nice.

The contestants are ready to relax but in comes Jewel to tell them that their next challenge starts immediately.

The show seems to indeed be struggling as it is moved fro its Sunday slot to Friday night (I almost missed it completely because I was taken by surprise about the move). I think perhaps the network did not think through all the details when they put this project together. There was a lot of “this is how it is done in the real world” and not enough of “this will help get across the songs to America.”

Platinum Hit: Episode 4

Jackie is looking for redemption this week while Nick is looking for the “most obnxious” award.

Today’s challenge: writing a rap about superpower they wish for. The guest judge today is Rodney Jerkins (who you have undoubtedly heard about if you watch other TV shows about music–he’s basically worked with anyone who is anyone).

Melissa– “Instant Love” (almost a Vegas hotel commercial)
Amber– “Controlling the elements”
Jes– “Hard-hearted”
Jackie– “Amazing rapper” (Jewel thinks this was some of her better lyrics, much to Nick’s chagrin.)
Brian– “Love Potion” (needs more time)
Nick– “Invisibility”
Scotty– “Flight”
Sonyae– “Controlling Emotions”
Johnny– “Walking Through Walls”

The hardest part of this is imagining a good rapper doing the song. Johnny can’t really rap at all but a good rapper could probably make his song sound good.

Top 3:
3- Jackie (comedic like Missy Elliot)
2- Sonyae
1- Johnny

The challenge: right a rap song while incorporating another genre.

Team Selection-
Johnny– Scotty and Jes (choose to incorporate operatic pop)
Sonyae– Nick and Melissa (add an R&B, rock)
Jackie– Brian and Amber (incorporate a doo-whop)

Sonyae and Nick clash on the small details (like the exact emphasis and rhythm) because they are both big personalities. Johnny and Jes meanwhile are a little on top of each other, which makes Scotty a bit uncomfortable. Brian works on the track because he feels uncomfortable with the lyrics and rap. Amber and Jackie and Amber seem on the same page. In each group there seems to be an odd man out.

Team Johnny– “Walk Through Walls” Johnny actually does a good transformation into a rapper and though Jes is a little high-pitched, the general harmony with Scotty’s smoother tone is pretty good.
Team Sonyae– “Miss Make the Boys Cry” Sonyae definitely can rap and I like the addition of Nick’s singing as a sort of dialogue
Team Jackie– “Super Duper Rapper” There’s something fun and enjoyable about this song. I could kind of see this song on air though I have no idea who would sing it.

Backstage Nick says he thinks Jackie’s song is “whack” and he thinks she has an evil side. Jes doesn’t see that and tries to defend her a bit.

Team Sonyae and Team Johnny are called up first. They are the Top Two. (Sonyae is wearing the weirdest earrings ever.) This is why I hate group challenges–Melissa doesn’t deserve to stay regardless of her team’s success.

And the winner is: Team Johnny.

Now dealing with Team Jackie, who is in the bottom. Brian thinks this is more novelty than a hit. There was no social commentary in the lyrics, which they think would be important to make it better. The comedy was too one-dimensional. Amber has been sort of the background and they don’t really know where she fits in. The track wasn’t fresh, which was Brian’s entire project.

Backstage, Nick says Jackie is hard to work with because she steamrolls them. This turns into a session of “who is talking about Jackie behind her back.” Nick calls Sonyae out who denies it and ends up yelling at Nick. Nothing gets resolved.

The moment of truth: Amber is going home. Brian takes the news stoically while Jackie bursts into tears. (She’s kind of crying more than Amber is.)

Platinum Hit: Episode 3

As a bonus, Kara will be judging the hook challenge, which will be to write a song about taking a road trip. There are postcards upstairs which have a word on it that must be incorporated into the challenge. (Away, free, view, change, escape, explore, wheels, direction, pack, and road.) Nick is disrespectful to Jackie (he basically calls it that she will give a long-winded thing about how much she likes her word—and he’s right) and Kara calls him out on it, saying he’ll lose jobs like that.
 
Jes– “Free” her voice is eh here, but the song isn’t bad, Jewel likes her vulnerability
Melissa– “Change” Kara “wows” it
Amber– “View”
Karen– “Away”
Scotty– “Pack” Jewel thought he did a lot right
Jackie– “Road” Kara feels it is a perfect statement
Sonyae– “Explore”
Nick– “Wheels” (“hi I’m Nick I’ve toured because I’m awesome”) Kara doesn’t think he can put feelings into music yet
Jonny– “Escape”
Brian– “Direction”
 
The contestants really stepped it up this week. Maybe road trips are just something artists can easily connect to (especially since so many of them are not from LA). Either way, this week it didn’t sound like disaster after disaster which was a welcome change.
 
Winners:
3- Jackie (strong melody and hook)
2- Jes (vulnerable, yet hopeful with honest lyrics)
1- Johnny (perfect marriage of music, melody, and emotion)
 
As the winner, Johnny gets to pick his entire team first. He chooses Brian and Scotty (after a teaser about choosing Nick). Jackie and Jes then take turns. Jes chooses Amber, and Melissa. Jackie chooses Karen, Sonyae, and Nick. Nick is chosen as last as possible (Jes even passed on him), which just goes to show that you shouldn’t be so mean.
 
For inspiration, the contestants go on a road trip and write in the cars. Karen still seems to be struggling with writing non-childish lyrics and Sonyae has no qualms calling her out on it. Jes decides to incorporate Melissa’s hook into her song because it really resonates with her. (Jes’s song is interesting because it is a slow road trip song.) Jes struggles with the fact that Melissa uses imagery for imagery’s sake. (Melissa gets frustrated because she can spell better than anyone.) Jackie is surprised at how great it is to write with Nick. Sonyae is more of a thinker and then a “gem-dropper” while Karen is more of a dropper and the occasional gem. Jackie is entirely satisfied with her song; it is a surprisingly smooth writing session. Meanwhile Johnny frets over whether or not his song is perfect. Jes and Johnny get some flirting going because there had to be at least one couple on the show.
 
Competition time. Natasha Beddingfield is the guest judge. (Is it weird that Jewel never like “here is someone I have worked with”? What is the point of a celebrity if they use none of their resources? Sort of how the Voice uses the coach’s friends…)
 
Team Jackie– “The Road is Where the Heart Is”
I’m finding that I really like Jackie’s voice (sorry Nick). I would listen to this song.
 
Team Jes– “Home for Me”
I don’t like Jes’s voice quite as much but the song isn’t bad either.
 
Team Johnny– “Going Where I Need to Be”
He’s actually got a good voice too. I don’t love some of the lyrics, which feel overly image-based, but I like the melody.
 
Nick struggles because he has usually concentrates more on the melody than the lyrics and in this competition, lyrics are key.
 
The judges say this week’s hooks are the strongest in the competition so far. Team Johnny and Team Jackie are called up first. One song had the perfect blend of lyrics and melody—Johnny’s team. Natasha liked its symbolism. Team Jes is asked to join Team Jackie. One song was not as strong as the rest, Team Jackie’s. Team Jes is safe. Natasha was touched emotionally and she thinks she could sing it.
 
Karen gets called out for her lyrics again, because it isn’t the most unique way. Jackie says her lyrics aren’t useable and are somewhat elementary. Nick plays the melody, which he came up with. Kara thinks that part is brilliant and a missed opportunity for the song. They don’t like Jackie’s opening line. The song overall felt too generic. Sonyae’s bridge line is solid. (Backstage Jackie breaks down into tears, she is sure she will be going home.)
 
The judges have decided. Nick is safe. As is Sonyae. Karen and Jackie are in the bottom. Jackie wrote a hook with potential, but she didn’t drive it home. Karen has a long way to go with her lyrical story writing. Jackie is safe, which means Karen will be going home.
 
Now that I have seen a few episodes, I have concluded that Jewel is the weakest part of the show. She feels like a Barbie doll—no personality, very stiff. I want her to have some personality. There’s no quoting her because she never says anything interesting (there isn’t even anything to joke around and imitate). If I could change one other thing, it would be getting real singers to sing the final products. Most songwriters sell their songs to other people, so let’s hear artists sing the final products so that the audience can really hear how it should sound and not the bad-voiced versions of them. (Maybe they can audition some singers or something each week to sing the song.)