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Songland-John Legend

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Tonight, John Legend will be joining the three judges Ester Dean, Ryan Tedder, and Shane McAnally. The first writer is Max Embers and he was born in Germany. The song he is singing is called Back Home. He’s excited to perform a song he wrote before some of the biggest people in the industry. He plays cover gigs 4 or 5 nights a week.


Ester asks how John would personalize it and he says he’d work on melodies. Shane says he has too many melodies in the song so it just needs cleaned up a little bit. John starts playing a little and humming. Teddy advises to save the high note for the chorus instead of the verse so he has a goosebump moment. John says he’s going to listen to some other writers and he’ll get back to him. Max wants to rework his song and he thinks John will like it.


Next is Tebby Burrows and she lives in Miami. Music was her oasis and her song is We Need Love. She thinks John is perfect for this song. She’s in marketing and Teddy worked at Pottery Barn and Ester worked in a funeral home. She performs her song for the judges and John is listening. Teddy says you have to be careful about lyrics crossing a line. John says the lyrics are sometimes cheesy and he thinks the song should sound a little more mournful. Ester says it’s a beautiful message. Shane says he had a hard time getting past the production because it sounded like the Lion King. Shane says changing the tone of the song will highlight the lyrics and bring out the message more.


Next is Sam James from Nashville, TN. He says he has country elements in his writing, but he thinks John could perform this because it’s universal. The song is called Shine Down. Sam walks in and performs for the judges. Shane is dancing along to the music. Shane says that was amazing, it had a lot of soul. Ester loved it. Shane asks what inspired that. Sam says he has the best partner in crime and it’s their ten year anniversary. Ester asks if this is a John Legend song. John doesn’t think the ends of the lyrics are compelling. Teddy gives a few lyric suggestions and everyone seems to like it. John says it might not be him, but it does sound country.


Next is Ollie Gabriel and he joined the National Guard and he wrote songs during that time. Having John Legend record this song would be a dream come true. His song is called Something New. The song was inspired by his grandparents and couples who have been together for 50 years. He performs for the judges. Ester wants to hear one part again and Ollie sings it again. Shane says it’s very close to being a hook he’s never seen before. Teddy says there was one line that didn’t hit him the way the lyric was intended and he goes over the lyrics.


John is discussing with the judges the song choices and he is choosing three writers to work on the songs. John’s first choice is Max. His second choice is Ollie. John tells Sam it was difficult but the song just wasn’t right for him. His final selection is Tebby. The producers are fighting over which writer they want to work with. 


Teddy is working with Max on his song. Ollie is working with Ester. Tebby is working with Shane. Teddy has advised Max to pick the tempo up a little bit. Shane is advising Tebby to strip it back and maybe just play the guitar. He says it was over the top. Shane says Tebby’s song really needs the mournfulness and they need to simplify some of the lyrics. Shane says the lyrics are beautiful to read but sometimes you have to take into consideration what you feel.


Ester is giving tips to Ollie on syncopation and changing pieces of the song. Ester says you only have a few seconds to get people hooked in and she advises him to pick up the intro to grab everyone’s attention. Tebby and Shane are still working and Shane wants to keep it simple to make sure the song is the star. Shane says it needs to be scaled back and maybe Tebby should consider playing it on acoustic. Teddy wishes Max good luck and says Auf Wiedersehen.


Tebby is the first to re-pitch her song We Need Love and she has stripped it down to just her and one other guitar player and a bass player. Her and Shane have slowed the tempo down and made it a more mournful song. John says the change in mood made a big difference. Ester says it came a long way from a Caribbean beat. John says the verses sound really nice now. Shane says Tebby was so open to working with and making some changes. Teddy says he got goose bumps. John sings parts of it and Tebby I excited.


Ollie is in next to re-pitch the song he and Ester worked on. They made the song a bit slower and more intimate. John says the feedback was pretty straight forward and Ester did that. John says he might change one word and Shane says they chopped out a stanza. John says it feels timeless and he loves the concept.


Max is in last and Teddy has suggested a change to the name of the song to Lookin’ Up. John loved the choruses and John sings it. Max says he sounds amazing. Teddy says they were working on it until this morning and Max really took a lot of Teddy’s advice. John says he’s happy with what he heard today.


John says everyone took the feedback so well and he thanks them and the producers. John says they all killed it and he’s happy he got to be there and experience their creativity and hopefully make a hit. John has made a decision. He’s chosen his favorite song from the three of them and he’s going to pick the song that he thinks made the biggest journey from where it was to where it is now and it is Tebby. John says it gave him chills and he’s ready to cut it. Tebby says this is beyond anything she hoped for it. Shane says this is a song we need and he’s so proud of Tebby. John says the song is available tonight and he hopes everyone listens to the lyrics and feels the love.

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