Here’s what happened when Leona Lewis came to Songland.
Originally from Houston, Olivia Lane is a pop-country singer/songwriter. Now that she’s based in Nashville, Olivia is looking to make her big break with “emotional queen” Leona Lewis. Her song, “Perfect Skin” is about self-confidence and body positivity. Leona says that as a woman in the music industry, the lyrics are so important and relevant. Shane and Ester both talk about how powerful the words she uses are too. Ryan suggests changing some of the melody to make it more interesting. Finally, Leona talks about wanting the lyrics to be more “British.” Olivia is paired with Ester Dean to produce her song.
Next up is Rozee, a makeup artist turned singer-songwriter from St. Croix. Rozee tells her story, which is an emotional one. Her dad passed away when she was 8 and her mom passed away when she was 21. After the show, Shane even acknowledged on Twitter that he didn’t know her backstory at the time, but it was so touching to watch. It gives even more context to who she is as a songwriter.
When she wrote her song, “Fighting For Us,” Rozee was going through a breakup. It was tough to do, but she had to get through it and be strong. You can feel her emotion in the song. Ryan instantly says he loves the chords. I loved her hook (and her voice) but thought the song needed to move along a little better. Ryan even suggested making it a feature with a Spanish rapper and Leona singing the hook. Lucky Rozee, she got paired with Leona Lewis’s producer/friend Ryan Tedder. Leona must have liked his idea for the rewrite!
From the preview released before the show, we’ve already heard Rafferty’s incredible song. I was excited to know his story and see what the producers would do with this one! Rafferty has had a rough past with music–getting teased by jocks (then joining sports) and quitting for a while to be a real estate agent–but something kept him coming back to it.
His song, “Heart Full of Love” is about starting over. Appropriate topic considering his story! He kicks it off with an acapella verse. This is a huge risk but it pays off for him, showing off his raw talent and vocals. When he gets to the chorus, the emotion comes out. He brings the melody up an octave, making Shane comment that it “tore [his] heart out.” The producers and Leona all suggest lyrical changes and making it fit the artist more. Rafferty works with Shane McAnally to produce his song.
Not only a singer-songwriter, Annabel Lee mentions that she has four jobs right now. She’s hoping to make music her full-time gig with a song credit by Leona Lewis. Her son, “Ugliest Love,” features her accompanying herself on piano while she sings. It’s bluesy and not something I would typically picture Leona Lewis singing, but she did mention she wants something different, so this could be it! Annabel has a much more rugged voice than the refined vocals of Leona. All the producers comment on the lyrics needing work. She explains it’s about an ungrateful teenager’s love with her mother. Unfortunately, Annabel was not chosen to move on to the next round.
Olivia Lane (with Ester Dean)
Ester and Olivia’s session starts with a Facetime with Leona Lewis. Because of its message, she is excited for the three women to work together on it! Ester wants to throw a few new melodies into the mix. Olivia says she isn’t set on the guitar and vocals either, so it’s in for an overhaul. Ester encourages her to make a big moment in the song, giving Leona something to “soar” on.
Olivia’s second performance was even stronger and more empowering than the first. She rocked it! And her pants, as the producers pointed out, were on point. Leona says she loves the message of the song, how it gives important advice to girls who may be struggling with body positivity. The lyrics “pretty fades but beauty never does” really resonated with the producers as well.
Rozee (with Ryan Tedder)
Ryan took a risk with Rozee’s song. He wanted to hear Spanish and rap in the verses. WHAT?! Ryan made the song a little Caribbean, which spoke to Rozee’s roots! When they went to record it, the song sounded completely different. But Rozee is excited about the changes! She is confident that Leona will love it too.
The second performance from Rozee changed the song from a ballad to a Latin-pop hit. A rapper came in to perform with her as well. Ryan explained this is how he imagined the song with Leona. The song took a whole turn but Leona seemed to like it! It is definitely unlike anything she’s ever done before.
Rafferty (with Shane McAnally)
Shane says he wants to find the most true emotion in Rafferty’s melody. Leona put Shane on the song so he could re-work the lyrics for her. He wants to simplify it, giving a softer feeling. Rafferty says he’s fallen in love before and it’s fallen apart, so he can relate to making this a heartbreak song instead of a love song.
The newly titled “When You Fall in Love” starts with a simple low piano backtrack and picks up at the chorus. I liked it, but it felt overproduced. I honestly thought the original might have been better in this case, which is rare. But the producers don’t seem to agree because Ester and Leona both instantly talk about how much they love it.
Leona Lewis’s New Song Is…
Leona liked all three songs for different reasons. She thought she knew what she wanted to do at first but after hearing them all the second time, it was hard for her to choose! When it came time, Leona went with…“Solo Quiero (Somebody To Love)” written by Rozee and produced by Ryan Tedder!
So is it really any surprise that Leona picked Ryan’s song after they’ve worked together on SEVEN songs? No…but the song itself was a surprise! It’s something Leona Lewis has never done before, but the end result is amazing. I love that she went out of her comfort zone to choose something new!
Next week, Charlie Puth will be the featured guest on Songland! Which means the week after will be OneRepublic for the season finale. Join us again next Wednesday for another exciting episode of Songland, at 9/8c on NBC.