Songland returned with another brand-new episode last night. Country superstar, Kelsea Ballerini joined producers, Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnally, and Esther Dean in search of her next great song.
Kelsea was introduced to four talented undiscovered songwriters: Jack Newsome; Jess Jocoy; Daniel Feels; and Darius Coleman.
First up is Jack with a breakup song called “Lying (Next To You).” Kelsea and the producers like the song but suggest changing the melody at the end to better highlight the double entendre and create a significant break at the hook.
Next is Jess Jocoy with “Easy,” a personal song derived from her experience dating a guy her friends warned her about. Kelsea and the producers praise the song’s “gorgeous melody” and Kelsea is excited to “marry pop and country influences.” They suggest tweaking one verse and removing the name of the guy Jess dated in order to make the song that much more relatable.
Third, Daniel Feels (whose real name is Daniel Goldberger) sings his song, “Crush.” Kelsea and the producers note that the song is “happy” and “feels good” but has “a lot going on melodically.” They advise Daniel to “strip the production” and keep things “organic.”
Finally, Darius Coleman pitches his song, “Better Luck Next Time.” Darius says he wrote the song about a girl he knows whose boyfriend cheated on her. Kelsea and the producers really gravitate toward the song. Kelsea says she “doesn’t want [it] to end” and thinks it would “fit on country radio.” The only piece of feedback she and the producers give Darius is to lift the song’s melody.
Now it’s time for Kelsea to decide who’ll advance to the studio round. After a brief deliberation, she chooses Daniel, Darius, and Jack, telling Jess to hold on to “Easy” and keep it for herself since the song tells such a personal story.
During the studio round, Jack is paired with Shane. Their main task is to re-write the song’s lyrics and play around with double meanings. They also chop up the acoustics so that the song’s production will mirror its story.
Daniel and Esther focus on stripping the production on “Crush” and creating memorable moments within the song. They also plan to bring in a female to sing the newer version of the song so Kelsea can get a feel for how it will sound from her perspective.
Ryan helps Darius toy with the key of his song. Ryan has worked with Kelsea before so he has the advantage of knowing which key will be perfect for her to sing in her head voice. Ryan and Darius drop the key down and add in a high octave on “Better Luck Next Time.”
With the studio round complete, it’s time for Jack, Daniel, and Darius to perform their songs for Kelsea.
Jack goes first. Kelsea likes that the song has “changed a lot.” Jack and Shane played with the lyrics and added a slow outro that emphasizes the double entendre. Kelsea says they “nailed it.”
Next up is Darius. Kelsea loves his vocal runs and says that the song sounds “magical.”
Last is Daniel with “Crush.” He’s stripped the production down to just an acoustic guitar to give the song more “earthiness.” Kelsea says that the song is “so good” and also agrees that it was “helpful” to bring in a female to accompany Daniel during the performance round in order for her to understand the changes he made.
Kelsea is now tasked with the tough decision of having to choose which song to record. She eventually selects Darius’ “Better Luck Next Time.”
Listen to Kelsea sing “Better Luck Next Time” on YouTube.
On next week’s episode of Songland, the Jonas Brothers stop by in search of their next hit.