NBC is trying to find the next great hitmaker with a new reality competition show. And this means I need to know — who are the contestants on Songland? A golden rule of writing is to write what you know. So, these people probably have really interesting lives, and I want to know as much as I can about the stories behind the songs.
According to OneRepublic frontman and mega-hit songwriter Ryan Tedder, songwriting is one of the most underrated professions. "If a guy working in the mailroom of Sony comes across the next Beyoncé, he gets more notoriety for discovering that artist than the songwriter that writes the song that becomes that artist's hit," he told NPR. It's a profession fueled by passion, I can relate.
One of the first contestants viewers meet on the May 28 premiere is Tebby Burrows, a Miami native who works a marketing job by day to pay the bills. She definitely has a positive outlook on the hustle involved with "making it" as a songwriter. According to NPR she describes herself as "a little bit like Clark Kent." On Songland's first episode, she'll offer John Legend an anthem called "We Need Love." A song like that could save the world, so I'd say she definitely has some Superman in her.
Burrows originally envisions it as an upbeat dance anthem. But, Songland is like songwriter bootcamp, so when Legend suggests that they slow down the song and make it "sadder," she's all for it. Co-host/producer/songwriter Shane McAnally serves as one of the mentors on the show and assures her that's the right direction for the song.
"I think if we bring it down, you're gonna break some hearts — and change some hearts," he tells Burrows in the show's trailer. Viewers will have to wait and see what song Legend chooses to record, but there is no doubt in my mind that this show will change the lives of every songwriter who makes it into the room in front of Legend and other artists including The Jonas Brothers, Meghan Trainor, and Macklemore.
Contestants are not shy about expressing what the whole experience means to them. "Not every day do you open the door to the studio and see three of the biggest producers and your favorite artist sitting in the room," said one contestant, who will be vying to produce a hit for Trainor. "And to have a shot at showing them a song that I wrote is life-changing."
I can't find much more about the contestants than what's in the video promos. But I know that each week, five of them will be battling for the chance to have a different artist record their songs. They'll get to work with producers and songwriters like Tedder, McAnally and Esther Dean.
This isn't TV's first songwriting reality show. In 2011 I was a fan of Bravo's Platinum Hit featuring songwriter and former American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi. But I must have been one of few because the show ended after one season. Network TV and star power work together to showcase songwriters on Songland and I can't wait to meet all of the contestants.