This week, Charlie Puth came to Songland in its penultimate episode looking for a hit that will get stuck in your head. But fun fact: his show was actually the pilot, which was taped first! So we are in for a treat.
Here’s how Charlie Puth found what he was looking for in his next hit song.
For guest artist Charlie Puth, this is a familiar face. Sam was actually one of his classmates at Berklee College of Music! Originally from Poughkeepsie, New York, Sam graduated from Berklee with a degree in songwriting. Her song, “Pill for This,” was written after she found out her friend was getting married to her ex.
And WOW. What a song! The lyrics are powerful but the beat makes it a BOP. Charlie said he wanted emotional lyrics and a catchy tune so “Pill for This” seems to check both boxes. Sam also nails the performance to the point where the mentors stand and applaud her at the end. Ester says, “That song is on the radio right now!” Ryan wants to experiment a little bit with some small things, but says it’s 90% there already. Shane wants to strip it back and take out the “tricks.” Ester suggests a duet with Charlie and plays piano along to make it happen. This one is a strong contender for sure.
Next up was 90’s kid from Berkeley, California, Zach Sorgen. He’s a big 80’s music fan though! Zach started songwriting in his teens and has been writing a song a day for years. That is impressive! He comes from a classical background and initially wanted to score movies.
But his Songland entry, “Habit,” is much more jazzy than classical. Zach doesn’t have the strongest vocals but it’s easy to see how Charlie’s voice would fit on the track. Charlie said “I like that a lot” right away! Ryan loves it melodically and lyrically, but Shane wants to lyric to be more clear. Ester suggested adding a stronger beat and had Zach sing over it. The rest of the producers love it too, saying it opened up the song, added “swag,” and made it a “smash.”
Nineteen-year-old mother Paris Alexa was third to perform for Charlie and the producers. She is from New Jersey but now lives in Seattle. Her song, “Pity Party” is about someone who feels bad about ruining a relationship. Paris was sassy and fun in her performance, bringing the swag missing in the last one. Ryan said the melody was a “10.” But it didn’t sound like Charlie to me, which the producers agreed with. Charlie wanted to flip the lyrics to make it more him, then showed off his piano skills and how he can make an impressive trumpet sound with his mouth? Watch and you’ll get what I’m saying. But in the end, Paris did not advance to work with a Songland producer.
Last to perform for Charlie Puth and the producers was Joel Adams. Joel is a 21-year-old songwriter from Australia. He moved to the US after graduating school in order to pursue his dream of working in music. Joel explains that his song is about a tough relationship that made him hate love. At least that’s what HE says it’s about!
Joel’s performance was a little over-the-top and cheesy for me. His theatrical hand movements and expressions were…a bit much. Plus, the song seemed very generic pop. Oh and it was also clear that this song is about make-up sex, not a tough relationship. But that’s neither here nor there! Shane loves the melody but says the word “hate” is way too strong.
Sam Derosa (with Shane McAnally)
The first pairing was Sam Derosa and Shane McAnally. To kick off the second performances, Sam was back with a new take on her song, “Pill for This.” She and Shane added some dynamics and rhythm to the song, kicking up the beat in the chorus, but for the most part it was pretty similar. I’m honestly happy about that too! The original was so good and definitely the most ready. Charlie complimented the updated beat and noted that Sam is a “really, really good singer” whose performance made the song.
Zach Sorgen (with Ryan Tedder)
Second up, we had Ryan Tedder working with Zach Sorgen. Ryan wanted to redo the guitar part a la James Taylor to make it more hip and edgy. So…yeah, piece that one together. He also wants to add some swag for Charlie’s take on it. Again, not exactly “James Taylor” but we’ll go with it. They also renamed the song “Bad Habit.” In his performance, the updated melody Zach sang sounded much more like Charlie Puth. I especially loved the “baaaaaad habit” in the chorus. Way to go, Ryan and Zach! This one wins most improved and you can tell Charlie agrees by how he dances and sings along.
Joel Adams (with Ester Dean)
For the final song, we again have Joel Adams, this time partnered with Ester Dean. In their session together, the two butt heads when Ester wants to make it into a dance track, but Joel is hesitant. Eventually, of course, Ester wins the battle there. They also work on the lyrics to get rid of “hate love.” I like the updated beat, tune, AND lyrics compared to the original. It sounds much more unique than it did in the first performance. You hear some of the weaknesses in Joel’s voice when it gets to the high parts of the chorus but…he’s a songwriter! Give him a break! We all can’t be Charlie Puth.
Charlie Puth’s Songland Single
Well this one was a tough decision for sure! I felt like it had to be between Sam’s “Pill for This” and Zach’s “Bad Habit,” but I couldn’t tell who would pull out the win. But when it came time, Charlie chose…”Bad Habit” by Zach Sorgen and Ryan Tedder. And he even surprised Zach with a live performance of the song!
But Charlie Puth didn’t play by all the rules. After the show, he did not release his own version of the song, instead urging his followers to buy Zach Sorgen’s version. He said he understands where Zach is at and how big of an opportunity this is for him. Charlie wanted him to be able to get the most out of his experience on Songland!
Here’s what Charlie had to say about his decision:
So if you want to download Zach Sorgen’s “Bad Habit,” it is available online. Tune in to Songland for the season finale next week with OneRepublic! The last episode will air at 9/8c on NBC next Wednesday.